November 8, 2004
Reading tea leavesBy Nathan Hale
Many trees will die to provide a palate for commentators to analyze the Republican victory on November 2nd. Almost all of those trees will have died in vain.
The single most important thing that occurred in 2004 will escape discussion by the majority of commentators because they are beholden to the legacy media. They cannot bring themselves to admit this election was the legacy media's last hurrah.
Evan Thomas of Newsweek was quoted as saying the media was worth 15 points to the Democrats. This is undoubtedly true. Had our media behaved in the old model of only modest hostility to conservatives in general and conservative Republicans in particular, John Kerry would have been rejected by the overwhelming majority of voters.
As the legacy media loses its ability to control the conversation, watch as Republicans are able to tell their message across party lines. The next election will feature a more level playing field than this one did.
How will that affect the outcome?
Consider a few dogs that did not bark this cycle.
1. John Kerry was quite possibly less than honorably discharged by the Navy. The facts surrounding this case have been documented by the Swift Boat Veterans for Truth and The New York Sun. Regular readers of The American Thinker know that Kerry refused to sign his Standard Form 180 and at least 100 pages of his military record remain hidden from view.
Can anyone seriously contemplate a Republican managing to run for office as a war hero without releasing such records? Dan Rather and Mary Mapes would certainly have spent the majority of the election cycle asking what President Bush was covering up, had he made a similar move. Ted Koppel might have started a countdown. "This is day107 since President Bush refused to sign his Standard Form 180. Voters across America continue to ask, 'What is he hiding?'")
2. John Kerry is a cancer survivor who refused to release his medical records. Of course Bill Clinton didn't release his medical records, either, which fed the conspiracy mills that he was covering up all sorts of sinister conditions. Such speculation is a waste of time. The fact that Kerry is a cancer survivor who did not release his records, after the death of Paul Tsongas during what might have been his Presidency, is entirely germane to voters' consideration of him.
Can any of us imagine '08 when Rudy Giuliani may be a candidate and the media NOT running a series about the relapse rates of prostate cancer? Should Rudy be the VP nominee, can't we all write the "heartbeat away from the Oval Office" story now?
3. John Kerry and Teresa Heinz released less financial information than any candidate in history. We all know about the "failed Arkansas land deal" and the trauma that caused our country. What would have happened if, as I suspect, links between Teresa's fortune and radical Democrats and their 527s had been documented only after the election?
We do not have enough proof to declare Ms. Heinz guilty of anything. But the appearance of impropriety certainly follows her around like a cloud. Her donations to the Tides Foundation are a matter of record and the Tides Foundation's activities in the protest movement are equally well—documented. Since donations are fungible, it is safe to say there is plenty of smoke there. If that smoke were from a Republican, can anyone imagine the media failing to follow up?
The simple fact is that no one knows how many of Kerry's 55 million voters would have voted for Bush or simply withheld their vote for Kerry had they had better information. Based on qualitative analysis of blue collar males who were given the information above, I think it safe to assume Bush would have won some 60 million votes while Kerry would have garnered less than 50 million. The battleground states of New Hampshire, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan would not have been battlegrounds at all and Bush's domination of the Electoral College would have been so obvious that his mandate would not be subject to debate.
The problem for the Democrats is that they have not internalized the rise of the internet and the decay of the legacy media. They will study these election results and fail to see what they portend.
Watch the next few months for relentless sneering about "values" and how the red states are populated by selfish, racist rednecks armed with coathangers. Watch as 51—48 is explained away as a "closely divided nation". The cure for what ails Democrats won't be tacking back to the middle where a Zell Miller can be proud of the Democrat label. No, the answer the party hierarchy will settle on is more of the same, only redoubled.
It is now too late for the media to redeem itself as impartial or unbiased. They face a Scylla of irrelevance and declining circulation or the Charybdis of an openly partisan media as exists in Britain. Either way, the advantage the Democrats have enjoyed that has masked their lack of connection with the voters will not be there in 2008.
Perhaps Karl Rove is right about America undergoing a political realignment. It's the media, the values, and the war, stupid.