Saturday, January 26, 2008

Times Endorsement: A Yawn for Young Voters

The 24-hour TV news outlets were all over the New York Times' announcement of their presidential primary endorsements yesterday, and the narrative was a helluva lot more fascinating than the latest Britney Spears crash and burn -- and perhaps even the endorsements themselves. Strangely enough, I still kinda got the feeling of a crash and burn -- or at the very least the ending of an era -- when it came to the Times endorsement. I can't tell you how many times the venerable paper was referred to as the "voice of the Liberal Establishment." Calling it a "Liberal bastion" was also popular. Even The Zaftig Redhead lists the Times under "Old Reliables" as a source on this very blog. Kinda makes the Times -- also famous for its Square, ironically enough -- sound a bit creaky, stuffy, ivory-towerish, maybe even a little bit behind the, um, times. Nonetheless, the New York Times' endorsement of Hillary Clinton in the Democratic primary and John McCain in the Republican primary was discussed as BIG news.

It was big news because, well, it was the New York Times -- and simple muscle memory and tradition dictates that what that paper says shall be taken with all due seriousness and like the medicine it is. It was big news because the Florida primary is on the horizon, and approximately half of Mickey Mouse's new disciples migrated there from one of the five boroughs. It was big news because McCain squirmed like a kid in Sunday pew when he heard about the endorsement -- trying to be good but really really really not wanting to be there. It was news because of the delightfully insulting way in which the Times dissed Giuliani as "a narrow, obsessively secretive, vindictive man..." whose "arrogance and bad judgment are breathtaking." (Damn, wish I'd written that.) And it was news because the Times dissed hometown Mayor Rudy yet endorsed transplant Senator Hillary -- but of course, who is more Democratic Establishment than Hillary?

And that, my friends, is where it gets truly interesting. Because the talk about the Times' endorsements was about why they were interesting, not why they were important. And I would largely agree, but for one caveat -- I think the Democratic endorsement still carries weight in Florida, where you can't walk three feet without tripping over Hillary's prime demographic -- women over 65. And hey, if they hail from the Empire State originally, mores the better.

Otherwise, though, the Times endorsement -- while interesting, is not all that necessary, to any candidate, anymore. Not in this era of CHANGE. Not in this era of young voters finally sowing their electoral oats and turning out in droves. Not in this era of voters -- young and old -- who turn suddenly deaf when phrases like "that's how we've always done it" are uttered. Indeed, the Times, while saying largely good things about Obama, calling him "the incandescent if still undefined senator from Illinois," seemed also to be saying that he was not quite ready for the Big Show. It is a sentiment many voters feel -- but not younger voters, who themselves are tired of hearing from their own bosses that they need to wait their turn. Bosses who can't use an Excel spreadsheet, have no idea how to send a text message, or even program their damn DVRs. So, for these voters, the Times endorsement may be news, it may be interesting, but it's not important. Not in the era of the blogosphere and RSS feeds and The Daily Show. These voters want to know who Jon Stewart is going to endorse -- now that would be important.

By the way, signs point to a record voter turnout today in South Carolina. Regardless of the outcome, Democrats generally have got to be jazzed about the energy amongst the base -- folks who have had it with four years of imperial idiocy are letting their feet -- and their votes -- do the talking. Here's hoping the outrage holds through November.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The Times also made another endorsement this week, although a bit of a stealth one. In lauding Mayor Michael Bloomberg’s “preliminary” $58.5 billion budget this week, the Times said, “We take comfort in knowing that Mr. Bloomberg has prepared New York to weather bad times.” Of course, the Times then goes on to point out that “…the mayor and the City Council have until July to negotiate a final plan.”

Mike Bloomberg is exploring the possibility of an independent run at the presidency in 2008, all the while saying, “No, no, I have no plans!” And if a Times endorsement means anything, he seems to have it with this budget opinion piece.

I’m predicting that Bloomberg will get into the race if anyone other than Clinton and McCain win their respective convention’s nomination. There’s nothing like being a self-made billionaire to give you the wherewithal to indulge your ego as the savior of the nation. And in these troubled times, the best way to indulge your hobby for politics is to be so wealthy you don’t have to ask permission of any delegates.