The opening night of the Democratic National Convention and the First Lady’s speech were a rousing success, according to Mark Mardell, the BBC’s US President editor. And his ignorance is on full display.
For Michelle, the personal is political
Mardell has been seeking inspiration for months, and seems to have found it. But first, a little sneer while making a lazy attempt to compare Michelle Obama’s speech to Ann Romney’s:
Both women stressed their husband’s compassion. Both talked lovingly about their love. Both talked about their early life with their husbands in relative poverty. Tell me, is a coffee table found in a rubbish lorry and an ironing board as a dinner table a requirement for keeping down with the Joneses?
It’s very amusing to see this sniffing at class war rhetoric from a man who has no problem using it himself. Just the other day he was reporting that Mitt Romney made a statement “from his lakeside vacation home”, as if it mattered from where he was, and writing as if taking the day off was something strange and unlike how most Americans marked Labor Day. Mardell knows perfectly well what this is all about. and has played his part in creating the environment.
Obviously the main rap on Romney is his wealth. That’s just about the only thing the Dems have on him, really, so it’s a no-brainer that Ann Romney would have to play that game. But the First Lady? It’s especially amusing that Mardell’s readers will be confused by why Michelle has to “keep down with the Joneses”, with all her talk of struggle and a working-class background. The BBC has censored all news of her lavish vacations, and the backlash caused by them, costing hundreds of thousands of dollars a pop, yet has fawned all over her expensive designer dresses without shame. Unbeknownst to those who get their news from the BBC, there’s a lot of concern in the US about the Obamas, particularly Michelle, being out of touch, with their Martha’s Vineyard dalliances, fancy clothing, and expensive parties. Mardell can’t point out why the First Lady would even bother with this angle, because then he’d have to reveal a lot of unpleasant things. Can’t have that. So he moves quickly on.
Here’s Mardell suggesting that the President should be a cynical manipulator. He quotes this from Michelle Obama’s speech:
“Barack knows the American Dream because he’s lived it… and he wants everyone in this country to have that same opportunity, no matter who we are, or where we’re from, or what we look like, or who we love.”
And then says this:
Note, by the way, that last part – there is a big appeal to the gay vote here. Just think how powerful that would have been, if Obama had announced his support for gay marriage in the middle of last week’s Republican Conference, if Joe Biden had not blown it for him, and forced his hand.
Yes, just think how powerful that would have been in the President had been able to cynically manipulate voters’ dreams like that and use what they say is a human rights issue for political gain. Is that the kind of Hope that inspires Mardell? Would it be even more courageous of Him to wait until the right political moment? Mardell isn’t even thinking about that. All he sees is political angles and theater. What’s more is that it gives him away as a supporter – of both the issue and the President – moaning about a missed opportunity.
Now about that ignorance. Mardell acts surprised at the major focus on women voters.
It is ironic that just as the convention got underway there was some evidence that women are going off Obama. ABC’s pollster Gary Langer writes about the new opinion poll under the headline “Obama’s popularity dips underwater”.
It is, he says, “the lowest pre-convention personal popularity of an incumbent president in ABC News/Washington Post polls since the 1980s.”
But the dip in the women’s vote is perhaps even more important.
Ironic? I don’t think that word means what you think it means. It’s only ironic if they don’t know about it.
Whether the Democrats knew about the polling evidence or not they had designed their first day to allow women to tell stories portraying President Obama’s re-election as important for them.
Is he kidding? Of course they know all about this. Who imagines that Mardell has some poll data that the White House doesn’t? They probably get the press release before he does. It’s actually a sad statement on how out of touch with reality the BBC’s top man in the US apparently is. The President has been concerned about the female vote for months.
Last year His stock among women voters was slipping, and the Dems were happy to see a rise in approval from them in February of this year. If there wasn’t an ongoing concern, it wouldn’t have been news in March that He was “gaining in popularity“.
In May, Romney started to do better with Republican women, which helped close the overall popularity gap between him and the President, who was actually losing ground among women. Like I said, it’s been a concern for months. Where has Mardell been?
Of course the Democrats were going to make a big focus on women this week. They’ve only been unsuccessfully pushing the Narrative that the Republicans are engaging in a “War on Women” for most of this year. That was part of how Rep. Akin’s foolish remark got such top billing that people could be excused for thinking he was the third man on the Republican ticket.
MSNBC sure was aware of the connection between the “War on Women” Narrative and the focus on women at the convention. They’re about as in lockstep with the White House as you can get. Did Mardell not know about this? He gets the same campaign emails as everyone else. What is he thinking?
As if this isn’t enough evidence for him that the Democrats know all about their need for focus on women voters, even without the very latest poll result. Why does he think they have two different abortion activists – one from NARAL and one from Planned Parenthood – speaking at the convention, plus the infamous Sandra Fluke, who wants the government to pay for her birth control? Alert people knew as soon as Akin’s statement hit the fan that the Dems were going to make the “They want to steal our lady parts” a key message at the convention. Two weeks ago people were reporting that they were filling the speakers’ list with women. And you know Mardell and the Beeboids saw the speakers’ list long before I did. Furthermore, women have always been a Democrat core target. Women swing voters more or less gave one election to Bill Clinton (see: “Soccer Mom”). Where’s Mardell been hiding?
No, this is silly. It’s just plain ignorance on his part to wonder if the White House machine knew about the latest poll, or if it was mere coincidence that the first night focused on women like it did. What a failure.
On second though, though, what if Mardell isn’t so ignorant and is playing some kind of game here? What would be the journalistic purpose of feigning ignorance? I’d have thought being more honest about the whole story would make for a more interesting report. Knowing the full facts and background would make both Michelle Obama’s speech and the rest of the evening’s proceedings make more political sense. Mardell knows her speech was political, so why hide what’s behind it? Is he protecting her and the President by declining to mention why she had to “keep down with the Joneses”? Is he somehow protecting the President by acting as if this dip in popularity is sudden and unexpected and by playing the Party for Women they’re acting ironically?
Maybe someone else can explain what he’s thinking here. It’s a very poor effort either way.