Thursday, November 03, 2011

The Obama-Cain Uncoupled Entry

This is Breeder's Cup weekend (Friday and Saturday at Churchill Downs) so let's celebrate the BC by revisiting some horse racing metaphors applied to the 2012 presidential race. Coming up to a big race like the Grade I 2012 Presidential Stakes, the well-financed connections, the big players pointing for this race, sometimes invest in a little extra insurance to make their morning-line favorite contender even more formidable with a coupled entry (if the horses belong to the same barn) or, occasionally, an uncoupled entry — typically, it's the 1 horse, entered as 1 with its entrymate 1A — as one betting interest but from different parties. It can get confusing sometimes, but the bottom line is the betting/voting public gets two for the price of one.

Assuming # 1 is among the favorites, its chances of winning the race increase substantially with a 1A entrymate. It's all in the pre-race strategy and tactics employed to see it through once the race begins. Here's how it works. In a "classic" (long) distance race, entry 1A is a rabbit sprinter entered to set a hot pace, burn out the chasing competition, and set the table for the favorite — # 1 — to swing past everyone in mid-stretch and win going away.

In this scenario, President Obama, # 1, is the favorite, and Herman Cain, # 1A, is his uncoupled entrymate. Herman Cain is an Obama creation. He is an unwitting stalking horse for the President. His improbable candidacy's success, based on sketchy creds would not have happened, I believe, had we not had an African American in the Oval Office who is so hated by the Teabaggers throwing their support behind Cain. Is there white racist psychology at play here? Or have the wingnuts suddenly discovered their inner post-racial sensibilities? Right.

If you're one of the strong Obama supporters at MSNBC (Chris and Lawrence), tell us: Will the implosion of the Herman Cain campaign (a) help the President; (b) help the eventual GOP nominee more than the President; or (c) be a wash. I've already argued that the answer is (b). If these Cain revelations at this moment in time are simply an act of journalistic nature, the circumstances of the disclosure just good, old-fashioned gumshoe reporting, then I say, COOL. But ...

As the drip-drip-drip of sexual harassment allegations sinks Herman Cain's campaign — "blame yourself," pal, remember? Cain had ten days to get his story straight and issue a TRUTHFUL statement to say, in effect, 'there were allegations, I'm innocent, a settlement was reached and I can't go into it because of the confidentiality agreements reached between certain parties.' End of story.

There's that. Then there's the issue of who gave this information to POLITICO. In this day and age, a "confidential source" is someone who enters into an agreement or contract with the media organization to provide information on condition of anonymity. Back in the day, the media entering into such arrangements were called "media whores." Oh wait. They still are. Here, in this blog, at least. What's worse, the key question — who benefits? — is glossed over, because, you see, everyone's in on it ... except the public. POLITICO's Ken Vogel said the question of who gave them this information is a meaningless "parlor game." Really?

Back in the day, when journalism still existed within a written and unwritten code of ethics, there were, to my mind, only three types of anonymous or confidential sources, which journalists were honor-bound to protect with their lives: (1) The "whistleblower," whose revealed identity could result in harsh retaliation; (2) the victims and witnesses, for similar and obvious privacy reasons; and (3) insiders providing information on "deep background" but otherwise generically identified as a "high official" or a "source close to the investigation" etc. Each one of these passes the smell and integrity test. But not, in my opinion, sources for whom the information provided anonymously is mutually beneficial in very specific and substantive ways, e.g., opponent campaign gives POLITICO the result of its "opposition research," the euphemism for digging up dirt on candidates including "documentation" which, of course, cannot be published. Not even the details which would completely obscure any reference to the accusers. We're not talking Pentagon Papers here.

Hey, Reverend AL, do you want to know how this benefits the REPUBLICAN ESTABLISHMENT and not the President? Consider this: Lately, the high councils of the GOP establishment (including Karl Rove, master dirty trickster), who generally support Mitt Romney but could live with Rick Perry, were getting nervous bordering on panicky about Herman Cain's candidacy. As they see it, Mitt Romney like it or not will be the nominee. And the longer the unelectable Herman Cain remains a viable candidate in the crazies primaries, riding higher in the polls than Romney, sucking all the oxygen out of their perceived top candidates' message, not to speak of shining a daily light on Romney's vulnerabilities, is time irretrievably lost to define their candidate before his opposition does, and to put his best foot forward.

From their POV, they're blowing a pretty good chance of beating President Obama. As George Bush I used to say, "this will not stand." Herman Cain had become a thorn on the side of the Republican establishment, and had to be stopped. It's a story as old as politics itself. Karl Rove is an expert "opposition researcher." Rick Perry too. They have a pretty grim track record of dirty politicking dating back to their Texas mudslinging. Look it up. Mitt Romney, not so much. But all it takes is money. And he's loaded.

Long story short, opponents of the favorite managed to raise serious questions about entry 1A's eligibility to stay in the race. And so the rabbit entry, Herman Cain, President Obama's pacesetter and table layer is on the verge of being scratched. The Idiot Punditocracy reverts to form, and the very entertaining 'Hollywood' Lawrence O'Donnell is having altogether too much fun with this story. The POLITICOs, the Alex Burns and Ken Vogel types, look just plain smug. And why not? They put one over the "liberal media," they massaged their collective Republican establishment egos, and they made a valuable source of more dirt, this time on President Obama and the Democrats, for the general.

Great reporting, guys! The question is, who gets the last laugh? Right now, I'll give POLITICO, the Beltway Media, and the GOP a slight edge. Let's hear it for the MEDIA WHORES. And the entertainingly clueless Idiot Punditocracy. Didn't hear it the first time? Let me repeat: YOU.HAVE.NO.INTEGRITY.

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