Man Without Qualities

Friday, August 13, 2004

Conventional Wisdom Goes Around The Bend

Kausfiles is right: The Note does constitute the Conventional Wisdom - and that's no compliment to the Note.

And the Conventional Wisdom is murmuring low, but ever louder, that, as announced yesterday by The Note, "this is now John Kerry's contest to lose:"

[R]emember the poisonous job approval, re-elect, and wrong track numbers that hang around the president's neck to this day and then consider the very smart, mustest-of-read essay by Charlie Cook, in which the Zen Master surveys the troubling (and consistently so ? ) poll numbers of the incumbent and renders this spot on verdict: LINK

...."President Bush must have a change in the dynamics and the fundamentals of this race if he is to win a second term. The sluggishly recovering economy and renewed violence in Iraq don't seem likely to positively affect this race, but something needs to happen. It is extremely unlikely that President Bush will get much more than one-fourth of the undecided vote, and if that is the case, he will need to be walking into Election Day with a clear lead of perhaps three percentage points."

"This election is certainly not over, but for me, it will be a matter of watching for events or circumstances that will fundamentally change the existing equation ? one that for now favors a challenger over an incumbent."

It is difficult to know whether it is more embarrassing for the "very smart" Charlie Cook to write this stuff or for the Note to have picked up Mr. Cook's musings with so much enthusiasm. I'm not going to rebut the rather scattered Note arguments because I don't think they amount to anything coherent. But I will cite just one report and submit to the reader that it shows the makers and distributors of the current Conventional Wisdom are seriously off track:
The share of Americans who say they approve of the job Bush is doing inched over the 50% mark to 51%. No president who was at or above 50% at this point in an election year has lost.

History is not destiny. But the Conventional Wisdom is supposed to be, well, conventional - and the historical fact recounted in this one news article indicates that by conventional calculations Mr. Bush is doing pretty well right now. That may not be right, but it should be the Conventional Wisdom. That it isn't the Conventional Wisdom says something about the current media mind - and that's not a compliment to the current media mind.


MORE The liberal media seem to swing between their convictions that President Bush is (1) a dope and (2) an evil genius (sometimes evil "idiot savant"). Choice (2) is likely to be vetted pretty widely in September because the President - or somebody - has succeeded in setting his expectations very low while there are considerable grounds to believe that the President will receive a rather large bounce from his convention, for reasons set out in prior posts. And then there's the increasingly bizarre Democratic confidence in those Florida and Ohio polls and their obsession with one month of ambiguous employment numbers ... and so much more.

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