Recalling the folk Ensign shtupped: This is a very dumb day in the New York Times. Right at the start of her news report, Helene Cooper just can’t seem to figure something out.
Obama is saying two different things about Romney! This attempt to walk and chew gum seems to have Cooper confused:
COOPER (1/5/12): After Iowa, Obama Campaign Sharpens 2 Negative Portrayals of RomneyFirst of all, no one knows what “protean” means. For help from Diictionary.com, you can just click this.
Bolstered in their view of Mitt Romney as their likeliest opponent, President Obama’s campaign advisers gleefully skewered him on Wednesday as a “weak front-runner” in a narrowing Republican field and made clear they would cast him as out of touch with the concerns of middle-class Americans.
The day after Mr. Romney squeezed out a razor-thin victory in the Iowa caucuses, Mr. Obama’s political brain-trust trained most of its fire on him, painting him as both a Wall Street 1 percent type and an unprincipled flip-flopper. How long the Obama campaign can condemn Mr. Romney, a former Massachusetts governor, on both counts is not clear, given that independent voters may view his protean tendencies as evidence of pragmatism.
Having said that, reporter Cooper is confused. It’s hard work to see how the White House can do it—how they can attack Romney as a pal of the plutocrats and as a flip-flopper too! In reality, whatever you think of those two critiques, it’s easy to imagine the way the two might go together. But by paragraph 2, Cooper is casting doubt on that puzzling flip-flopper crap, just as Kristof does on today's op-ed page.
Go ahead. You explain it! (In 2004, this same newspaper busted its keister calling Kerry a flipper, although he hadn’t flipped at all regarding the matter at issue.)
For our money, even Nate Silver struggles a bit today, frisking Romney’s “ugly win.” The analysts audibly groaned at this point (this comes from the hard-copy Times):
SILVER (1/5/12): What Mr. Romney did not do, in either a literal or a figurative sense, was wrap up the nomination. A resounding victory in Iowa might have come closer to accomplishing that, but not one with these aesthetics.Has anyone ever “wrapped up the nomination” in Iowa? And as the campaign strained for the win, was the late change in tone “inexplicable?”
Here comes the ugly stat sheet: an eight-vote margin of victory, a vote share lower than he attained in 2008, a failure to beat Mr. Santorum among registered Republicans and the lowest-ever winning percentage in the Iowa caucuses. Then there was the fact that Mr. Romney’s campaign, which had so carefully managed expectations in Iowa for months and months, did an inexplicably poor job of it at the end.
Yes, this is fairly minor stuff. But what’s in this newspaper’s water?
Out on cable, last night's biggest groans were occasioned by Rachel’s post-Iowa focus. Romney and Santorum had tied in the state. Now they were moving on to New Hampshire. Gingrich was planning to self-destruct. And what was Rachel’s take-away? Here’s how she started last night:
MADDOW (1/4/12): And thanks to you at home for sticking with us the next hour.Except no—it actually isn’t. We dont like to make predictions. But we’re fairly sure you'll see this connection dreamed up nowhere else.
You remember the John Ensign sex scandal? Every once in a while in the news business, it pays to be a total dork. It pays to be unabashedly obsessed with the story that nobody else is talking about at the time. For example, the John Ensign sex scandal.
I confess, I found the John Ensign sex scandal obsessively fascinating, for a really long time, even though it basically never made front page national news, at least until he resigned. Sometimes, though—this is I think true in life as much as it is in the news—sometimes months and years later, after you’ve been interested in something and nobody else really is, it turns out that that obsession is worth it. That obsessing over a story nobody else is paying attention to comes in very handy.
So the John Ensign sex scandal is suddenly newly relevant, because it is connected to the 2012 Republican presidential nominating race.
But then, this is the person who spent two nights, just two weeks ago, worrying that Jeb Bush might run for president as part of an on-line third party effort. This is one of the world’s three or four least likely prospects—but Rachel told us, three separate times, that she had been losing sleep about it. (In fairness, that “losing sleep” hook is one of the many approaches she uses to make us admire her more.)
Last night, Maddow recalled how much “fun” it was to cover the caucuses Tuesday night. Maddow is a brilliant self-salesman. On the down side, she is still “obsessed” with who John Ensign was “shtupping.”
Last night, she spent her first six minutes on the topic (click here to watch). Do you see hope for the world?