June 02, 2003
Mark Shields and the half-full glass

Mark Shields, the (liberal) moderator of TV's Capital Gang, is also a syndicated columnist. In this column, from May 26th, he takes fellow Capital Gang pundit (and conversative counterpart) Robert Novak to task for a statement he made in a recent column of his own, one discussing Richard Gephardt's presidential campaign. Discussing the South Carolina primary, Novak wrote:

...his friend and colleague—Rep. James Clyburn, the state's only black congressman—controls 20 percent to 25 percent of the primary vote.

Shields takes a single line, and spins it into an entire column on how it is wrong for Novak to say that someone (in this case, Clyburn) "delivers" or "controls" votes. It seems a little overwrought to me, but I will accept his premise, although he strays needlessly into Bush-bashing later in the column (if he didn't, he wouldn't be Mark Shields).

However, it seems to me that the left is not likely to accept the concept equally applied to their side. How many times have we been told that Rush Limbaugh directs his (mindless, sheeplike) followers to follow his instructions and vote for the guy with the R after his name? And let's not even get started with religious conservatives; from the arrogant 1983 Washington Post article that stated that religious conservatives were "poor, uneducated, and easily led", this myth has been gospel truth to leftists of every stripe. It's a trope that I seriously doubt they would be willing to relinquish, because it rationalizes so many of the failings of their preferred candidates and positions—"we're right, and it's only because people mindlessly listen to extremist Rush and right-wing Fox News that we didn't win".

posted on June 02, 2003 09:19 PM


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