Sunday, January 20, 2013

From "Mandate" to "A Country Divided"

A post apropos of Inauguration Day.

Last month, Hendrik Hertzberg pointed out that after the 2004 election, the editorial board of the Wall Street Journal congratulated George W. Bush for "what by any measure is a decisive mandate for a second term."  This past election, the Journal's board described Obama as "eking out a second term."  In 2004, the Journal was quick to say, "Just because an election is close doesn't mean it isn't decisive."  In 2012, the Journal intoned gravely about a country "divided" and "polarized."  Apparently, when your side wins narrowly, the results are a "decisive" vindication of how right you are, but when the other side wins narrowly (but still by more than you did the last time around), it still doesn't mean you're wrong.  I especially liked how the Journal commented on how Obama was able to win re-election "even as he lost independents and won only 40% of the overall white vote."  Ah, now I understand why the most recent election results were not "decisive": it's because the white folks haven't bought in!  Say what you want about the Journal, but it knows its constituency.

Hendrik did not mention the following: in 2004, the Journal noted:

***Referendums opposing gay marriage went 11 for 11 on Tuesday, winning even in Oregon where the 57% to 43% landslide was the smallest majority among the 11. This is not a message of intolerance toward gays; it is a rebuke to those liberals who insist that courts impose their values on venerable American institutions.***

In 2012, the news that voters (not courts) in Maine, Maryland, and Washington approved same-sex marriage prompted the Journal to respond with -- complete silence.  I just think that's funny.

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