Sunday, May 8, 2016

Voxsplaining Hillary's Preemptive Media Victim Card

A couple people posted this amazingly dumb piece by David Roberts purporting to Voxsplain to the rest of us how the press will victimize Hillary out of some misguided notion of fairness. Everyone covering the election, according to this theory, is a gigantic machine on autopilot, or a single-celled amoeba that only responds to the stimulus of "balance":
Among all these classes of professionals, all these institutions, that whole superstructure of US politics built around two balanced sides, there will be a tidal pull to normalize this election, to make it Coca-Cola versus Pepsi instead of Coca-Cola versus sewer water.

The US political system knows how to play the former script; it doesn't know how to play the latter. There's a whole skein of practices, relationships, and money flows developed around the former. The latter would occasion a reappraisal of, well, everything. Scary.

So there will be a push to lift Donald Trump up and bring Hillary Clinton down, until they are at least something approximating two equivalent choices.
This reading conveniently omits Hillary's dreadful public speaking voice, one which always sounds like a condescending, exasperated schoolmarm. She is probably the worst public speaker of any major party candidate to run for President since Bob Dole; at least George W. Bush could fake enough folksiness to get by. Hillary does not pretend. And whether you think that opinion can be chalked up to sexism or not, Penelope Eckert's observation that "She is not softening anything for anybody" is a kind of tell: Hillary doesn't expect she'll need to compromise, not here, not today, and not tomorrow, either. The alteration of her accent to match that of her audience adds to charges of disingenuousness and shiftiness. Her problems begin in the mirror.

But this is the kind of thing I've come to expect from Vox; their reporting on Hillary has been all but universally sophomoric and transparently partisan from the beginning. Whether it's their terrible apologia for Clinton's speaking fees, the embarrassing attempt to shoo away the email scandal as so much press bias, weak excusifying for her triangulations, or attempts to soften her abysmal record at State, Vox only rarely lifts a finger to criticize (as this piece highlighting Daily Show skewering of gaffes, the friendliest possible venue for such stuff). You would not find there, for instance, Alex Pareene's cautionary advice which shows Team Hillary playing into Trump's hand by the choice of phrases they use to describe him:
“Dangerous Donald,” the “loose cannon,” hated by loser Republicans, capable of doing anything. This is all straight out of the orange idiot’s dream journal.

And it is apparently the line the Democrats have decided to take. They’re going to build Trump up as a reckless and virile force of nature—and a true outsider—rather than expose him as a pitiful clown and an obvious fraud. This is completely backwards. As any writer who’s ever received an angry personal response from Trump can tell you, you get under his skin by mocking and emasculating him, not by feeding the myth of his power and strength, the precise qualities his authoritarian followers adore.
Now in a general election, I doubt Trump has even 15% of the vote as "authoritarian", which is where this falls apart. But the larger point is that the Clinton campaign appears to be making some missteps on their own. The 1990's "vast right-wing conspiracy" echoes down to the present day.

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