Sunday, January 06, 2008

Lessons in Cynicism

Via Talking Points, I just read a blogpost from Gary Langer, ABC News' pollster and supposedly "the first and only pollster to win a News Emmy." He writes of Hillary's chief strategist Mark Penn's memo denouncing the Des Moines Register's poll which accurately predicted Obama's win in Iowa.

As Langer wrote (emphasis added):
The criticism of DMR's work was out of line – but we didn’t learn how far out of line until this morning. On the press plane flying from Iowa to New Hampshire, our off-air reporter Eloise Harper reports, “Mark Penn admitted to knowing that the trend was shifting towards Obama this past week.”

That means that at the very moment Penn was accusing the Des Moines Register of producing unreliable data, and saying it was Clinton who had the momentum, he knew otherwise.

The lesson in all this is less about Mr. Penn, and more about political campaigns. They are focused, admirably perhaps, on winning. What they’ll say to get there needs, always, to be taken with a grain of salt. Or maybe a five-pound bag.

Is he fucking serious? This is a lesson learned? What's next? Will Langer give us the scoop on how it turns out that used car salesmen aren't entirely trustworthy, or how advertisements sometimes tout product benefits which aren't always beneficial? Somebody get this man a subscription to Consumer Reports. And what's pathetic is that this is the kind of lesson that Langer and his cohorts will keep "learning" every time they actually can prove a campaign was lying to them, and yet he'll still put some merit into what these people tell him.

And even then, this should clearly be a strong lesson about how Mark Penn is a liar and should never be trusted for a long time. I'm sorry, that is how this works. You should always be cynical regarding any unsubstantiated claim made by anyone with a vested interest, and should blacklist those who get caught in outright lies. That's just a no-brainer. If you don't like to be fooled, don't trust people whose job it is to fool you, and don't listen to people who have been caught fooling you. No wonder the Bushies were allowed to destroy our country as they have.

P.S. If you feel that you need to vomit but can't quite get the stomach acids moving upwards, I suggest reading the comment section on Mark Penn's memo. With comments like "EVERYONE KEEP BUSY, KEEP POSITIVE AND KEEP "SMILING" GO HILLARY !" it's obvious that these people believe in mystical thinking. And what's really sad is that all of those people sound like they don't really mean a word of what they're saying, and are just faking it in hopes of fooling the momentum fairies. These are the words of people who want to project positive thoughts, rather than of people who truly are positive. And why was the word "SMILING" in quotes? It's as if they're admitting that the smiles aren't real.

Even worse, I have a strong suspicion that at least a few of these comments are faked; if not all of them. Hell, I'd actually feel better about Hillary to know that her supporters aren't the complete dittoheads they sound like from those comments. Some of them sound quite unhinged in their support. So I'll assume the best of Hillary and that these were overly enthusiastic staffers and not actually people representing their real opinions. The alternative is much too frightening.

No comments: