The TV media people are tripping over their feet today trying to explain away Hillary Clinton’s win in New Hampshire. Of course, the whole “come from behind against tremendous odds” meme is ridiculous on its face — Clinton led consistently in New Hampshire until a couple of days ago; why are we so surprised that she eked out a victory? But apparently we’re supposed to be. Even the news reports that note her months-long lead in the polls call her 3-point win “huge” and “stunning”.
It seems the media, having been embarrassed by its forecasts of an Obama blowout and a Clinton demise, now has to to force-feed us some kind of excuse for its misstep. I’m hearing everything from “white voters lied to pollsters” to “voters felt sorry for Hillary Clinton”.
First of all, as I already pointed out above, Clinton had a steady lead in New Hampshire until last week’s Iowa caucuses. It’s to be expected that Obama’s win there would give him a bounce in the polls, but there’s no guarantee that all those newly identified supporters actually showed up to vote. I’ve also read speculation that Obama’s surge, and the resultant premature declaration of victory in the media, led some independents to use their votes for McCain. And if some white voters lied about their intentions, there weren’t many — Obama was a close second in a strong field of candidates. Really, this isn’t like the dilemma of New Hampshire Republicans, who last night chose John McCain as their least of the evils.
Second, I don’t buy that voters chose to support Clinton because they “felt sorry” for her. Reporters, who use words for a living, should give a little thought to phraseology. There is a big difference between feeling sorry for Hillary Clinton and being angry on her behalf. One implies that she is, or should be, the object of pity; the other reflects a perfectly appropriate response to the shitstorm of sexism that has blown through the media over the past few days. Actually, given that shitstorm, maybe the reporters are just following up on their emotional woman theme with a sly “bless her heart”.
I expect there were voters who turned out yesterday to express their anger at the implication that showing a little emotion disqualifies a woman from serving as president, while Mitt Romney can repeatedly cry on cue without the press or his political rivals proclaiming him unelectable (and shame on John Edwards for his cheap shot response to Hillary’s “tears”). Good for them. It’s about time for the United States to enter the latter half of the 20th century. We’ve seen other countries survive and thrive under the leadership of women; it’s stupid and counterproductive to exclude more than half of our population from the highest office in the land solely based on gender.
Deborah Lipp looks at the numbers and notes that both Clinton and Obama garnered significantly more votes than John McCain. Glenn Greenwald has a great analysis of the Clinton-hating media madness (related video at Crooks & Liars). And watching Rachel Maddow on MSNBC last night, calling out Chris Matthews on his obsessive Hillary-bashing, was just priceless (again, video at Crooks & Liars).
UPDATE: Good God, what was Obama thinking?