a curious Yankee in Europe's court

blog about living in Europe, and Italy

(5th) Occasional U.S. news media round-up on presidential race

Posted on the August 18th, 2008

Mamas don’t let your babies grow up to be rock stars*

Who knew that being a rock star is such a terrible thing? (President Bruce Springsteen has kind of a nice ring to it, don’t you think?)

But, apparently, Republican Party nominee McCain is calculating that American voters think poorly of the rock deities, because he’s been accusing Obama of the dark sin of being just such a super-celebrity at home and abroad.

  • To see an example of Obama as rock star, watch this New York Time‘s video overview of the candidate’s Berlin visit (“Reporter’s Notebook: Obama in Berlin” by Nicholas Kulish, July 24, 2008).
  • To see an example of how McCain is trying to use the rock star label as a weapon against Obama, see this report and a video of a McCain campaign ad on Politico.com (“McCain contrasts celeb Obama with average Americans,” Jonathan Martin blog, Aug 8, 2008).

The blonde bites back

What do (beautiful blonde) women want? A little respect, maybe. That’s something Republican Party nominee McCain discovered recently when he took the proverbial low road in a television campaign ad in July that compared Obama to blonde popstar Britney and blonde celebrity Paris Hilton. The latter blonde instantly took aim, fired back and scored a bullseye.

Hilton posted her own video in which she called McCain a “wrinkly whitehaired guy.” And, according to the media reports I read, Hilton was widely declared the victor in the video shootout. See McCain’s video here, and the Hilton video here.

How to play “Playing the Race Card”

It was never a question that race eventually would become an issue in the current Presidential campaign, it was just a question of how “it would rear its ugly head,” according to Elvin Lim, an Asst. Professor of Government at Wesleyan University.

Pointing out that “the minority candidate is always accused of playing the minority card” (in this case the race card), Lim analyzes the strategy Republican nominee McCain is using to attack Obama on this front.

See Lim’s article here (Aug 4, 2008) on the Oxford University Press blog (blog.oup.com).

If money really talks

Then it must have quite a bit more to declare about Obama in this campaign than it does about McCain. In July, the Obama campaign reported raising $51 million, compared to the McCain campaign’s report of taking in only $27 million for the same period (“Obama Campaign Raises Over $51 Million In July” by Beth Fouhy, AP, Aug 16, 2008). See article here.

If the news media’s reporting of poll results drives you crazy?

A possible antidote is the website fivethirtyeight.com. The site offers ongoing analysis of the major U.S. political polls, and is the creation of Nate Silver, a highly reputable sports statistics analyst.

See a Newsweek article here on Silver (“Making His Pitches” by Andrew Romano, Jun 16, 2008). In a crucial primary for Hillary Clinton earlier this year, Silver’s projections were more on target than those of all the established pollsters, according to Newsweek. The article also details how Silver goes about achieving his high level of accuracy for projections in both sports and political events.

The number five-thirty-eight, according to Silver, is a reference to the number of electors in the Electoral College — the U.S. Constitutional process that plays the key role in determining who will win the presidency.

Is it truth, lies, or just politics?

In political campaigns, the practice of smears and mudslinging are favorite activities more often than not. To find out if these accusations are true or false, one of the best go-to websites is factcheck.org.

From the website’s About page:

The Annenberg Political Fact Check is a project of the Annenberg Public Policy Center of the University of Pennsylvania. The APPC was established by publisher and philanthropist Walter Annenberg in 1994 to create a community of scholars within the University of Pennsylvania that would address public policy issues at the local, state, and federal levels.

The APPC accepts NO funding from business corporations, labor unions, political parties, lobbying organizations or individuals. It is funded primarily by the Annenberg Foundation.

If wishes were horses and rock stars could be president…

Bruce Springsteen performing “This Land Is Your Land” at the Memorial Coliseum in LA on September 30, 1985:

(see here for previous round-up)

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