Sunday, June 15, 2008

Allen: Big Majority, Big Change

Rep. Allen thinks it's 1964 all over again.

Think he's right?

UPDATE: Gerald notices the Maine Sunday Telegram's strange, sort of baffling editorial on the same topic.

The writer deserves credit for organizing the piece around the (sound) assumption that on the issues, Allen is a better fit for Maine than Sen. Collins.

But given the sensible premise, a number of passages are all the more perplexing. None more so than this one:

Allen is asking that Maine voters do something that voters generally don't do: Set aside your feelings for his opponent on a personal level and vote your party and/or your politics...This will be a tough sell.
Forget whether this is correct. (No evidence is produced to support it.) More important: What's left unsaid is that the MST and it's sister publication, the Portland Press Herald, aren't exactly uninvolved parties here.

Their journalistic duty when it comes to covering politics is to deliver citizens the truth about pols and elections, and to explain the stakes.

So in an editorial on the senate race, you'd think seasoned journalists would come down firmly and clearly on the side of issues and substance over personality. But instead, we get this:

Americans tend to put a lot of stock into likability and other candidate qualities that have nothing to do with the issues. This is especially true of the swing voters who decide the tight races.
Okay, perhaps. (No evidence is cited here either.)

But if you're waiting for the part of the editorial where the MST rejects the notion that likability should trump substance, you're waiting in vain.

In fact, instead of using the opportunity to be a truth teller, debunking myths and disentangling fact from spin, the editorial repeats (again, with no evidence) the specious message that Collins has been a "moderate."

To be fair: It never argues in favor of the adolescent idea of politics as a popularity contest. It never suggests that stances on universal health care, soldiers coming home from Iraq and the future of the Supreme Court are less important than whether Collins is, "the opposite of slick."

But in the middle of an unpopular war and economic upheaval, during a time when it's never been clearer that elections have serious consequences, you'd think that anyone paying attention--let alone a prestigious editorial page--would use whatever column inches were available to council strongly against seeing the Allen-Collins race as a referendum on the junior senator's personal popularity.

Maybe that sentiment will be expressed in a future editorial. But--and call me a cynic--I'm not betting on it.

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