Today was Shabbat, and my husband was out of town, allowing me the perfect opportunity to catch up on my sleep...and my newspaper pile. As noted in a post below, I'm increasingly weary and wary of the news, which seems to have crept into nearly all sections of the paper. And this weekend, as the election draws perilously close--or, relievedly close--the intensity is gut-wrenching.
The bias in favor of Obama in my three newspapers seems to be even more obvious and forthright, even as newscasters lament the election overkill and the almost humorously one-sided coverage. I supposed I should have guarded the sanctity of the Sabbath and concentrated on this week's portion of the Torah--Noach, where the world is destroyed for its immorality--but that simply returns my mind to the election. There's no escape.
Then, immediately after the conclusion of the Sabbath, I got a phone call from my husband, who announced cheerfully--"Did you hear? McCain's ahead by one point in the Zogby poll!" My cynical little heart was not comforted, after an afternoon of journalistic depressives. Two hundred stories touting Obama, and eighty stories bashing McCain had done their work.
So, I decided to confirm in my brain the good news--McCain was ahead in a poll! I couldn't get into the Zogby site, since I don't pay the $75 to be a member, and every other reportage on McCain's lead was stifled by negations. The USA Today "On Politics Breaking News" site had the following: "Gallup just released new national tracking results that may calm Democrats who got jittery this morning about a new Reuters/C-SPAN/Zogby poll and whose jitters were front-paged today in The New York Times."
They don't actually quote the Zogby poll there; they just discredit it. Then they go on to say, "Gallup's latest numbers show Democrat Barack Obama leading Republican John McCain 52%-42% based on both the traditional definition of likely voters and a new one that includes more first-time and infrequent voters.
The margin is 'the largest Obama lead among likely voters to date' in the traditional model and it matches the largest in the expanded model. Gallup also says today is the first time the two likely-voter numbers have been the same."
Well, whoop-de-doo. It's true, USA Today is not the standard of journalistic objectivity. But can McCain actually overcome a TEN POINT trail in Gallup? Is it true that people are shy about admitting to voting for McCain (lest they be labeled racist)? Am I crazy to be looking at this stuff?
Of course, the answer is yes. But I fear that the average voter, the ones who aren't as wrapped up as politics as I am, hear those numbers, and are influenced by them. I read a statement by pollster Zogby that today, Nov. 1, the numbers are way back in Obama-land: "Obama has consolidated his lead over McCain. His single-day lead today was back to 52%-42%."
He went on to break down that lead and ended his statement with the following admonition: ""Remember, as I said yesterday, one day does not make a trend. This is a three-day rolling average and no changes have been tectonic. A special note to blogger friends: calm it down. Lay off the cable television noise and look at your baseball cards in your spare time. It is better for your (and everyone else's) health."
I'm not Zogby's blogger friend, nor do I have a collection of baseball cards, but he's right--at this point the only thing to do is pray some more and throw some parts of the paper into the recycle bin, unread.
For something more upbeat, I looked online to find John McCain's performance on SNL tonight (we don't own a TV). I thought his show opening, where he and Tina Fey as fake-Palin did a QVC infomercial that included products like Joe action figures (pull the ring on the Joe Biden and he talks for 45 minutes), and McCain Fine Gold (with Cindy showing the necklaces) had its moments, but was dominated by a Fey solo where she disses the veep candidate with a "Palin in 2012 t-shirt," suggesting the Alaska governor is an opportunist.
The Weekend Update where McCain reveals his unworkable campaign strategies was lame except for one "bad strategy" that made me laugh: "Sad Grandpa." What the clips showed was what a great sport John McCain is, and how easy he is even when being insulted under his nose. The guy is intensely likeable, the personification of integrity.
Now if only the nation can vote with its head instead of its emotion, which is...aarrgghh...unlikely, we can start reading the newspaper again.