by ICD

The way journalism should cover presidential elections, is to scrutinize each candidate against himself.

Examine what Joe Candidate's positions are. Find out how he defends those positions when questioned. Then make him explain why he is well-suited to the job. And challenge that explanation.

But, unfortunately, the way journalism actually covers presidential elections-- is as a horse race. Comparing "how the candidates are doing", against each other.

Telling the story that way is the cheapest form of melodrama. It's like: "The Joker robs a bank (boo) But Batman arrives to stop him (yay) But the Joker jumps out the window (boo) But Batman races after him (yay) But Joker jumps in a car (boo) But Batman jumps in the Batmobile (yay)..."
As hackneyed & stage-managed as pro-wrestling commentating.

The whole reason dark horse candidates are allowed to exist, is that frontrunners are now established long-before the party Conventions. So, to avoid challenging the ordained frontrunners in-depth (too boring for ratings)-- the media keeps the horse race going, by pretending to treat dark horses like McCain or Bradley as serious contenders. As if Gore and Bush weren't their party's picks from day one in 2000. Puh-leeze.

And after the primaries, it's almost impossible for the media to avoid doing their job-- seriously examining the the two choices. But the media does find a way-- by suddenly discovering and touting Third Party candidates, just to keep the mindless horse race running. Nader and Perot were only taken 'seriously' by the media, because they spiced things up during the long, boring end of the race.

But, among the Dems, the situation is a little different this time. With Gore & Hillary bowing out, the ordained frontrunner is Lieberman. And he's so unappealing, that other Dems have a real chance.

But that's just too complex for the lazy media to deal with. So they are all too eager to manufacture a frontrunner. The lame part is-- the media will be just as eager to manufacture a dark horse contender, as soon as their frontrunner gets a de facto lock on the nomination. Anything to keep the stupid story exciting. Anything to avoid scrutinizing the actual frontrunner.

The good news is-- dissident voices like Nader do get at least a perfunctory hearing, thanks to this inane game.

The bad news? Well... remember how Bush had a little summit with McCain when McCain bowed-out? As if Bush was lending his ear to McCain-- adjusting himself to accommodate the McCain supporters he was inheriting. Well by now it's clear that Bush didn't deviate one inch from his true colors, toward McCain. No concessions were given. (Those who think Nader should accept concessions ASAP, rather than upset the Dems apple cart, want Ralph to fall for the same sucker's deal.)

A generation ago, when Hunter S. Thompson first started blatantly offering gambler's odds on presidential primaries-- he was making a point. He was calling attention to how all the high-minded solemnity and faux-seriousness surrounding election journalism; was a cheap disguise concealing an amoral horse race. Long, serious-sounding speeches and reporting actually served only to evade acknowledging the bipartisan quagmire in Vietnam.

Once again, dead American soldiers are a daily occurrence.

But these days, Hunter's sick joke has become the norm. His gonzo scorn has been supplanted by pinheaded cheerleading.