Thursday, August 16, 2007

"Fair" Coverage? (Updated)

(Photo Credit: Holly McQueen, Des Moines Register)

Remember me, kids? Your favorite dog-blogger? Sole owner and proprietor of Roxie’s World? The fox terrier with the leaky heart, the laptop, and the two funny moms? The one who holds forth here regularly on politics, pop culture, and basketball – as opposed to, say, Japanese roof finials, Buddhist temples, and humidity? The moms are home, vacation’s over, and I’m back in charge of this little postage stamp of virtual soil. I’d like to thank Moose for her dedicated work as Roxie’s World’s very first foreign correspondent. Eat your heart out, Christiane Amanpour. You and CNN have nothin’ on us! Turns out Moose is a pretty good blogger, despite her lack of experience. The guys over in Clicks and Eyeballs are beside themselves with the spikes in traffic we experienced during the moms’ great Japan adventure. We’d like to welcome our new readers – especially those from Japan! – and urge you to come back regularly for a dog’s-eye view of the human spectacle. We snarl at the meanies and give face licks to the good guys and gals. And when we don’t know what else to do, we find a way to laugh.

Okay, let’s get to work! Moose was back on duty in the breakfast nook this morning and came across one of those puffy political stories that invariably get written in the summer of the year before a presidential election when reporters are clearly bored out of their minds and desperate for ways to handicap a race that is still murky as a bowl of mud. The story, by Wa Po political reporter Anne E. Kornblut, focused on the (for some reason) astonishing fact that Hillary Clinton and Rudy Giuliani were at the Iowa State Fair yesterday within four hours of one another. This extraordinary non-coincidence gave Kornblut an excuse to do a head-to-head comparison of how the two New Yorkers performed in the alien universe of the heartland and how they were received by the overweight, under-educated hayseeds who prefer to eat their food off of sticks. (Kornblut's story is here.)

Kornblut doesn’t put it quite that way, of course. Indeed, she says that Clinton and Giuliani, for all their partisan differences, “share an uphill battle -- namely in convincing voters that they are normal people, rather than visiting members of the coastal elite with occasionally gruff manners and sharp partisan elbows.” Interestingly, though, it’s the stick-sucking “normal” Iowans who come off as rude in Kornblut’s account, particularly in their reception of Senator Clinton. It’s clear that Clinton and Giuliani both drew large, enthusiastic crowds in their visit to the fair, but Kornblut can’t resist focusing on “nasty comments” the junior senator from New York supposedly drew from some passersby, including an 87-year-old woman who refused to be introduced to Clinton because, “She makes me sick.” Another “loudly referred to Clinton as ‘the Antichrist,’ and a third man argued with Tom Vilsack about whether she would become president, telling him, ‘I can't stand her.’”

Ah, yes, Hillary the Polarizer, the terrifying shrew “normal” people just love to hate! Step right up to the midway and see the World's Scariest Woman! A related figure is Hillary the Calculator, and she makes an appearance in Kornblut’s article, too, giving a standard stump speech and seeming uninterested in taking questions, in contrast to Giuliani, who “actively sought to engage” with both voters and reporters. Kornblut begrudgingly acknowledges that “Clinton was mobbed for the entire visit” and that “women in particular flocked to meet her.” She also acknowledges that Giuliani, for all his engagement with folks, “did not stray far from his Sept. 11 image, using tough language in response to questions about immigration and terrorism and even discussing fingerprint imaging technology.” His appearance was, in other words, every bit as careful and contrived as that of the supposedly calculating Clinton, yet it’s her performance that comes in for criticism. For some reason, Giuliani is allowed to be a politician playing up his strengths for the crowd, while Clinton is a scheming woman trying to put one over on the naïve rubes of the heartland.

Sigh. I had hoped that while I was on hiatus the political press might have come up with a new story line on the presidential race. That shows no signs of happening yet. Roxie’s World may end up endorsing Senator Clinton just so we can offer the dogged support of a group we might call “Old Bitches for Hillary.”

We will acknowledge that the photos of Clinton at the fair wearing an apron emblazoned with her name and the phrase “The Other White Meat” gave us pause, even though she was photographed with other (male) people wearing similar aprons and even though we are perfectly comfortable with her support of the pork industry. (We say this with sincere apologies to our vegetarian readers, but our household is happier since the moms started serving pork tenderloin and bacon on a regular basis. It’s a simple fact.) Anyway, we think the photo has some jarring resonances in the context of Clinton’s position as a white woman whose main opponent within her own party is an African-American man. We know candidates have to go through all kinds of embarrassing things for the sake of getting a nomination, but we have a queasy feeling about how this image might get used.

Update from the Department of Geese and Gander: The politics of pork is so widespread in Iowa that Clinton may not have a problem after all. Apparently, a whole bunch of presidential wannabes are willing to offer themselves up as "the other white meat," if this photo montage from NYT is to be believed:

(Photo Credits: Eric Thayer for The New York Times; Charlie Neibergal/Associated Press; Eric Thayer/Reuters; Keith Bedford for The New York Times)

Funny that the Post ran a photo of Hillary in the ridiculous apron but did not run one of Giuliani to accompany Kornblut's article, isn't it? Our crack team of internet trollers hasn't come across any photos of Obama sporting the apron and doing time behind the grill. Send 'em along if you spot 'em, but we're guessing his (necessarily) color-conscious campaign knew enough to steer clear of what could have been a visual disaster equivalent to the classic Dukakis-in-a-tank photo. Instead, the Times has an adorable photo of Obama riding in a bumper car with his daughter Sasha. Now that's fair game:

(Photo Credit: Scott Olson, Getty Images)

For another blogger’s detailed deconstruction of Kornblut’s article, see this post in The Daily Howler. For a more even-handed account of Clinton’s visit to the fair, see this report in the Des Moines Register.

We’re back at it, kids, and we’re delighted to have you with us! Keep clicking, and keep the faith.

7 comments:

  1. Nice to have you back, dear sis! Your mordant political insight is much needed!

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  2. Hey there Roxie,
    I'm off on another road trip today - this time heading west, rather than east. I'm spending Saturday night near Joshua Tree National Park - hope to get a chance to take a little hike in the park on Sunday morning. Then I'll be at the Morongo Band of Mission Indians Casino, Resort & Spa all next week volunteering at INDN's List Campaign Camp and Prez on the Rez. I'll have my trusty laptop with me and hope to add some more enthusiastic posts to my blog. More from the road, Rox.
    Cheers,
    Auntie Faye

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  3. Have fun at Prez on the Rez, Auntie Faye! We look forward to hearing all about it.

    Folks can check in w/ the Radical Militant Librarian Roxie's World shares w/ the Stephanie Miller Show at http://emailstosms.blogspot.com/

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  4. Hi Roxie,

    On Hillary Clinton . . .

    Part of me feels that it is totally irresponsible for a black or a woman, Obama or Hillary, to run for the U.S. Presidency, when the planet is about to self-destruct due to climate change. It's too risky, there's just too much at stake to walk on the wild side.

    But another thought comes too, -- what if, ONLY A WOMAN PRESIDENT at this time in history, could truly motivate this country to move dramatically toward solving climate change, and even to initiate the kind of foreign policy needed to spark a glabal (including China) green renaissance? Is that sexist? Why only a woman? It's just the sense I have, when I imagine Hillary, as President, as the most qualified person to do the job!

    RutgersAlumna

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  5. P.S.
    I have been commenting in many different places on the Net, and realized today that perhaps I have finally found a use for the RutgersAlumna blog (linked via the photo ID on this post) -- that is, to repost all these comments all over the net in one place in the RutgersAlumna archive. I have started with the Roxie's World Hillary post above, and added a new photo, which I hope you will like.

    RA

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  6. Love the photo, RA, and we give a paws up to your idea for developing your blog. Wish I could believe that a woman president would be more environmentally sensitive than a man would be, but the moms have cautioned me not to expect too much. It's fun to imagine what Al Gore might do for the environment in a (new) Clinton administration, though, isn't it???

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  7. Thanks for your support, Roxie! If Hillary wins and Gore agrees, please tell your moms, I think she should knight him as the First Ambassador TO THE PLANET!

    RA

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