The political stalemate leading to the so-called shutdown of the federal government has shown with devastating clarity how official Washington is consumed with symbolism over substance.
The symbolism begins with the word shutdown itself. Despite the noise and fury in Washington, the vast majority of Americans haven't noticed any change in their daily lives because most of the federal government has not shut down. It is functioning as normal. Social Security checks go out, and the military is still on duty.
In an early Wednesday morning story which seems to have been a strategic trial balloon, Charles Babington at the Associated Press, aka the Administration's Press, ran a story trying to portray the NSA surveillance revelations by Edward Snowden and subsequent developments as matters which have only riled up people on the "far left and far right." Otherwise, the American people are okey-dokey with NSA's data dragnet. Too bad for Babington and the administration, as I demonstrated in Part 1 (at NewsBusters; at BizzyBlog), that what appears to have been a belated attempt to intimidate prominent elected politicians has to a large extent not worked.
This post will further show that polling data Babington cited near the end of his report contradicts his claim that "Solid majorities of Americans and their elected representatives appear to support the chief elements of the government's secret data-gathering."
On October 3, as Kyle Brennan's at NewsBusters noted the next day, NBC News political director Chuck Tood, appearing on CNBC, characterized presidential polls generated by Scott Rasmussen's polling group as "slop."
The specific quote: "We spend a lot more money polling than Scott Rasmussen does. We spend a lot more money on quality control....I hate the idea that [NBC] polling, which is rigorously done, has to get compared to what is, in some cases, you know, slop." At the time, while many polls, including NBC's (done in conjunction with the Wall Street Journal), were showing Barack Obama with leads of four points or more nationally, Rasmussen was virtually alone Obama barely ahead and occasionally tied with Mitt RomneyChuck was clearly not pleased with that. Someone ought to ask Todd if his evaluation holds based on the results following the jump which were posted at Real Clear Politics early Friday morning.
Even though Rasmussen said he doesn't know Todd or follow his work and is happy to have the competition, host Megyn Kelly called the NBC correspondent's remark "mean" as she came to the pollster's defense.
Appearing on CNBC's Squawk Box on Wednesday, NBC News political director Chuck Todd launched into a rant attacking Rasmussen Reports polling: "We spend a lot more money polling than Scott Rasmussen does. We spend a lot more money on quality control....I hate the idea that [NBC] polling, which is rigorously done, has to get compared to what is, in some cases, you know, slop." [Listen to the audio or watch the video after the jump]
Co-host Joe Kernen challenged Todd: "[Rasmussen] was right, though, the last couple of elections." Todd shot back: "He got right at the end. It's what happens in the middle sometimes that seems a little bit – a little bit haywire."
Bill Maher isn’t scowling at conservatives on his HBO show right now, but on his blog, he has a new character on the political scene to attack: pollster Scott Rasmussen.
In Maher’s brain, conservatives are reality-deniers who live in the “Fox-Rush-Drudge” bubble who won’t listen to opposing views. "Because wingnuts can go for months and not talk to anyone who doesn’t think Obama is a bigger threat to America than Al Qaeda with airborne AIDS, but that’s because they live in rural Tennessee, and inside the information bubble.” Polls are the only political reality to snap them out of it – until Rasmussen came along and “deluded” them with poll results that disagree with the “mainstream” mob:
The Washington Post ran a story slamming pollster Scott Rasmussen on Thursday on the front page of the Style section. Political reporter Jason Horowitz earnestly channeled the Democratic spin from the story's beginning:
ASBURY PARK, N.J. -- Here is a fun fact for those in the political polling orthodoxy who liken Scott Rasmussen to a conjurer of Republican-friendly numbers: He works above a paranormal bookstore crowded with Ouija boards and psychics on the Jersey Shore.
Here's the fact they find less amusing: From his unlikely outpost, Rasmussen has become a driving force in American politics.
Democrats surely dislike how Rasmussen's polls (like this week's showing Harry Reid losing by 11 points) affect the optimism of their donors and activists. But are his numbers accurate?
A just-released Rasmussen survey found 75 percent of respondents believe Americans are getting ruder and more uncivilized.
If this is true, is it being caused by a downturn in the economy that clearly has made the public uneasy for obvious reasons, or are citizens just mimicking the caustic tone they've seen from political leaders the past couple of years as well as that exhibited by prominent media members?
After all, there's been a certain Jerry Springer-like offensiveness on display in the nation's capital since George W. Bush was first inaugurated, and the press have been quite in lockstep.
Given the Bush Derangement Syndrome the country witnessed -- especially after Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans four years ago -- as well as the way a supposedly impartial media viciously attacked former Alaska Governor Sarah Palin from the moment she was announced as John McCain's running mate, and how average Americans protesting at Tea Parties and town hall meetings have been disgracefully disparaged in recent months, is it any wonder Rasmussen Reports found the following:
Exactly how wide is the gulf between elite media opinion and public opinion on matters of politics?
Let’s put it this way, after Sen. Barack Obama falsely accused Sen. John McCain of saying he (Obama) doesn’t look like the other presidents on the currency and has a funny name, Andrea Mitchell on MSNBC, called Obama's "Dollar Bill" statement "self-deprecating":
ANDREA MITCHELL: I have to tell you that the people who heard Barack Obama say what he said Wednesday night—and it's very similar to things he's said in Paris and Berlin and a lot of other stops—it's very self-deprecating. He says "I don't look like other people who have been President of the United States," most people who watched that, I don't know very many people who've watched that, and the people in the audience, the reporters, have never interpreted it, have never inferred from that, that he is making some kind of racial statement, but that's the way the McCain camp says that they took it, and Rick Davis by putting it out there, sure –
Although the results of a new poll may not be surprising to NewsBusters readers, it is nonetheless shocking to actually see it in print: 68 percent of Americans "believe most reporters try to help the candidate that they want to win."
Even more predictable given how obvious it's been, a majority of respondents also felt Barack Obama has gotten the best press coverage so far during the campaign.
Such are the findings of a new Rasmussen Reports telephone survey just announced moments ago (emphasis added throughout):