Take a look at this headline and see if you’re being informed or conned:
Romney Narrows Vote Gap After Historic Debate Win
Jeffrey M. Jones / Gallup:
By record-high margin, debate watchers say Romney did better — PRINCETON, NJ — Registered voters’ preferences for president are evenly split in the first three days of Gallup tracking since last Wednesday’s presidential debate…
“Historic”? Take a look at “historic” and see if that’s anywhere near the definition:
1. Having importance in or influence on history.
Usage Note: Historic and historical have different usages, though their senses overlap. Historic refers to what is important in history: the historic first voyage to the moon. It is also used of what is famous or interesting because of its association with persons or events in history: a historic house.Historical refers to whatever existed in the past, whether regarded as important or not: a minor historical character.Historical also refers to anything concerned with history or the study of the past: a historical novel; historical discoveries. While these distinctions are useful, these words are often used interchangeably, as in historic times or historical times.
Historic? What are you talking about? The idiotic “horse-race” coverage of our most consequential presidential election in a generation continues, as brain-dead as the writer’s (not just the headline writer, please note) use of the word “historic.” Here’s their explanation, using Monday Night Football Voodoo Statistics:
Romney Posts Historic Win in Debate
An Oct. 4-5 Gallup poll finds roughly two in three Americans reporting that they watched the Oct. 3 debate, similar to what Gallup measured for each of the three 2008 presidential debates. Those who viewed the debate overwhelmingly believe Romney did a better job than Obama, 72% to 20%. Republicans were nearly unanimous in judging Romney the winner. But even Democrats rated Romney as doing a better job than Obama, 49% to 39%.
Gallup has assessed opinion on who did better in most past presidential debates; some of these polls were conducted the night of the debate with pre-recruited samples of debate watchers immediately after it concluded, and some were conducted with more general samples of Americans in the days that followed the debate. Across all of the various debate-reaction polls Gallup has conducted, Romney’s 52-point win is the largest Gallup has measured. The prior largest margin was 42 points for Bill Clinton over George H.W. Bush in the 1992 town hall debate.
Romney’s debate performance is also notable from the standpoint that U.S. debate watchers judged Obama the winner of all three 2008 debates with John McCain.
Oh. You mean YOUR statistics, Gallup. What an inflated notion you have of yourselves, Gallup. Especially when the entire rightie snarkosphere was up in arms the entire previous week about how completely wrong and irrelevant you are?
Here’s some interesting polling statistics
Seriously: the debates are meaningless in the final analysis. No matter who wins or loses, or gets a bump, two important figures overshadow them completely.
First, that the ultimate arbiter of “winning and losing” is the election, per se. If you kick your opponent’s ass you can still lose, and if you lose, you can still win. The election is what matters, and there is nothing “historic” generally about the debates, any more than there is something “historic” about bumper stickers, unless you count the most famous of all, “Fifty four forty or fight,” which turns out to have been nearly as meaningless as it sounds.
Polk swept into office with the pronouncement, which referred to the U.S. claim to most of British Columbia, up to the Yukon Territory. Once in office, Polk settled with the British at the Forty-ninth Parallel, which is a full Five degrees and twenty minutes shy of the campaign promise. He did, however, pick a fight with Mexico, of which, after invading and conquering, we kept half and returned the part we didn’t want (modern Mexico).
So, even that’s not “historic.”
The sheer arrogance of Gallup citing their own statistical database over less than a century as a “world’s record” is less credible than Guiness’ record for long-distance trampolining.
The Presidency as Prize Fight
The second point is the important one:
History is not what it WAS, but, rather, what it IS.
Just as Clint Eastwood was a monumental mistake in retrospect, even after several forced attempts to repropagandize it as a great performance and a great rhetorical victory, the only thing that anyone’s talked about (other than the notion that somehow winning and losing the “horse race” is the big news of the week) has been Big Bird.
If that was the only real takeaway from the debate, the rest doesn’t matter. And, given the visceral rage that the spectacle of an out of touch bully ignoring the debate moderator and openly stating that, he “likes him” but would, in essence, like to fire him for what he considers bottom line issues, and stupidly including “Big Bird” — a character beloved to a generation and MORE of American children — lost Mr. Romney the debate, no matter what Gallup may be patting themselves on the back over.
History becomes what we believe it to be at that moment, as Karl Rove knows all too well. In 2004, draft dodger George W. Bush became a “fighter pilot” and superhero action figure, and John Kerry, a multiply -decorated Vietnam volunteer who turned DOWN his draft deferment to serve, became a coward who was “unfit for command,” as the famed Swiftboating book screeched in its title.
Was that history? No, but that was what “history” was at that moment.
Today is Columbus day (observed). Formerly, it has been a celebration of the European arrival in the Americas, then an Italian-American holiday, and now a grave act of intentional genocide by the terrible Europeans. Much as Custer has gone from the hero of the Battle of the Little Big Horn to the villain of same. History is not what it was, but what it IS, right now.
Which is why I’ve told you that the debate about the debate is the only important debate, because that’s where the former is ultimately decided. By letting Mitt lie outrageously for ninety minutes, the debate had opened wounds in credibility far deeper than any perceived humiliation of the “loser” might have scratched. The latter vanishes after a couple of rounds of late-night jokes. The former tends to gangrene.
Let me tell you an old ’80s Hollywood story:
I was talking to late screenwriter/director Dan O’Bannon once, about “Alien,” and he told the story about Life on the Movie Set: all the different ways Ridley Scott came up with to kill the ship’s cat. And O’Bannon kept fighting with him on them until one day he screamed: “Kill anybody you want, Ridley. But if you KILL THAT FUCKING CAT, people are going to get up out of their seats and walk out of the fucking theaters!” Ridley gave up and stopped trying to kill the cat, and Alien became a blockbuster.
On the other hand, Mitt just killed the cat.
“Historic”? The mosquito and the elephant. Just don’t make yourself (once more) Irrelephant, Gallup.