Wherein I attempt to coin a political term of art

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    ( – promoted by lowkell)

    American political discourse is littered with various “-ers” nicknames for political movements.  The first that I can remember were the 9/11 “Truthers.”  Then came the “Birthers,” the “Tenthers,” and the “three-percenters.”  I would argue friends that another political movement ending in “-ers” has emerged: the “Bathers,” short for “Bloodbathers.”

    Who are the Bloodbathers?

    The Bathers, as I am now going to call them, are political pundits who refuse to write or talk about anything else but their belief that the Democratic Party is headed for a bloodbath in this November’s mid-term elections, in spite of the very considerable evidence that the Republican Party is poised to fumble this year’s elections, possibly very badly.

    Now don’t get me wrong–the incumbent party frequently loses at least a few seats during mid-term elections, so starting your election narrative by noting this fact is simply common sense.  But having stated the obvious, the default, a good journalist will then test their hypothesis against observable facts.

    Yes, the incumbent party typically loses seats in the mid-term election, but . . .

    . . . is the opposition party’s fundraising suffering due to widespread corruption and wasteful spending by party leadership?

    . . . is the opposition party riven by a civil war between its establishment and its fringe elements?

    . . . is the opposition still widely identified with a former president that is widely seen as responsible for many of the country’s problems?

    . . . has the opposition party put forward a viable alternative agenda that it wishes to pursue, or has it simply functioned as a spoiler, opposing everything?

    . . . is the opposition party widely seen as being closely tied to the industry responsible for causing the greatest environmental disaster in American history?  Is the opposition party responsible for the lack of regulation that contributed to the disaster?

    . . . is the economy, by far the most important issue in this year’s election, turning around in favor of the incumbent party?

    This is just a sampling.  There are many more good questions that need to be asked, more issues to be addressed.  Maybe you can help me think of a few more in the comment section.

    In 1948 nearly the entire political press corps decided that Dewey was going to crush Harry Truman in the presidential election.  The nation’s political reporters decided the outcome of the election very early in the process and would not be swayed from their prejudged conclusion: Dewey would defeat Truman.

    On the night of the election, November 3, 1948, many political reporters didn’t even bother to wait and listen to the election returns: they filed their stories for the day and went home early.  

    At the arch-conservative newspaper The Chicago Tribune (the Fox News of its day) the editors decided not to wait for the final results.  They composed a now infamous headline for the first edition of the next day’s paper.  The headline proclaimed: “DEWEY DEFEATS TRUMAN” and the front page article described how the Republican Party had gained control of the House and the Senate.  House and Senate Republicans were talking about how they were ready to cooperate with President-Elect Dewey to begin enacting the Republican agenda.

    Except it was all wrong.  Truman had defeated Dewey, and the Democratic Party had reclaimed control of both the House and the Senate.  Nearly every political reporter in the United States had been wrong.

    Now, I understand that we live in a time when the art of political polling is far more advanced than it was in 1948–yes, that is true.  But it is also true that we live in a time when Fox News is given far more credence than it deserves and at least one major polling company (Rasmussen) routinely slants its polls to try and affect the narrative and the outcome of the issue or election it polls about.

    So, for a political reporter in this day and age to mindlessly repeat the “bloodbath” meme over and over without ever bothering to ask whether the underlying facts actually support their pre-conceived notions is journalistic malpractice that can only be explained in one of three ways: 1) bias; 2) laziness; or 3) incompetence.

    The fact is that the Republican Party isn’t even close to inflicting a “bloodbath” on the Democratic Party this year: the facts simply do not support that conclusion.  That could change.  The Democrats could easily blow this election by lying down, becoming passive, refusing to press a reform agenda, and generally acting like Republican-lite.  But the way things look, it could just as easily be the Republican Party that implodes due to scandal, intra-party fighting, and the complete lack of a positive agenda to run on.

    A political reporter that allows himself (or herself) to become a “Bather” could really end up looking foolish this November.

    Thanks for reading this diary.  Can you think of any other questions political reporters should be asking right now?

    Can you think of any “Bathers” that have already written off the Democratic Party?  Which category of journalistic malpractice do you think they fit into?

    • Dan Sullivan

      Thanks to the Tea Partiers, moderate Republicans are routinely being maligned. While most wingnut favorites stand little chance in a general election, they can pick off more qualified opponents in a primary or defame them so badly that they limp into the general.

      You may be onto something.  

    • TomPaine

      “So, for a political reporter in this day and age to mindlessly repeat the “bloodbath” meme over and over without ever bothering to ask whether the underlying facts actually support their pre-conceived notions is journalistic malpractice that can only be explained in one of three ways: 1) bias; 2) laziness; or 3) incompetence.