Saturday, January 16, 2010

Drive by commenting

A. Matt Yglesias is weakly attacking the new meme that Obama and the Dems messed up by trying to reform our nation's health insurance system. He asks how we can ever have a comprehensive theory, as if we don't do that all the time, and often correctly so. Contrary to the meme, and to Matt, the comprehensive problem with the Obama administration and the Democratic Party leadership in Congress consists of two things:

1. They bailed out bankers and banks, but did not bail out working families and their homes. That would have included an immediate and a strong public works program, and labor union reform so that profits for executives were spread out more for workers as the money flowed to the construction and other companies doing the public works.

2. They gave up all their best arguments to improve outcome and cost control with respect to health insurance reform by refusing to start out demanding Medicare for All.

B. So Democratic Party Senate nominee in Massachusetts, Martha Coakley, is a train wreck, or more specifically, Michael Dukakis with protruding breasts? Sorry, but no surprise here. Why? She refused to campaign by shaking hands with regular folks, started her advertising campaign too late and now desperately tries to run as a populist. Ted Kennedy loved to deal with people and always ran as a populist. In Coakley's defense, notice how at least two local police unions endorsed her Republican opponent, Scott Brown, while the largest police union endorsed Coakley. Sexism is not a big factor at all, but it may make a close election even closer...

Right now, emotions are high and Coakley's overall demeanor and personality strikes the wrong chord with low-information voters, also known as "independent" voters. Coakley may still win on Tuesday, because Scott Brown is an elite bank-loving phony who mouths right wing rhetoric about small government and cutting taxes. Read the Wikipedia entry on him and one sees a chameleon. I pity the right wingers who are supporting this former Cosmopolitan male centerfold.

C. The Leno wars at NBC are amusing because the suits at NBC have never really liked Leno. The suits have long had an elitist disdain for Leno's middle class sensibility and appeal. They first hired Leno to succeed Johnny Carson in 1991, but then fiddled around for a year, reluctantly going with Leno because they finally listened to the local affiliate execs who knew what regular folks wanted to see at 11:30 p.m. every night. Nice and funny beats sardonic and hip every time (though I have never found O'Brien to be anything other than terminally dull). See "The Late Shift" (1996) by Bill Carter for the Leno-Letterman wars of the early 1990s. Also, this Newsweek story from January 25, 1993 strikes me as correct as well.

Zucker made the wrong move in not just letting Conan O'Brien go a few years ago. It's ugly to do it now, but the Leno-Letterman wars were ugly, too--and at least this time, Zucker was smart enough to have held Leno long enough to be able to make this move, or else he'd have been fired if Leno was at ABC and mopping up Letterman and O'Brien (who would split the self-consciously hip audience they crave) in the ratings.

Oh, and Jimmy Kimmel is a schmuck who should be counting his lucky stars that Leno didn't bolt to ABC when NBC originally made its announcement for O'Brien a few years ago. Again, Leno would be beating both Letterman and O'Brien--and Kimmel would be begging for work on the corner of Ventura and Sepulveda Boulevards.

I could have saved Zucker a lot of money in the first place, but he isn't calling me for advice is he? :-)

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