campaign desk

There Will Be Losers

Cable talkers see to it
February 6, 2008

Yes, there were the familiar color-coded cutouts of Super Tuesday states flashing on the screen as they were called (and uncalled) for the Democratic candidates. But what with the small matter of unfinished delegate counts (and, in some cases, unfinished voting) such graphics must not have fully slaked that overarching thirst —particularly acute on cable—to Declare A Winner last night.

And if it wasn’t going to be safe to Call a Winner early on, if at all, last night, why not declare what the still-unfolding results on either side would be a Repudiation Of? We may not know the results, but we can tell you what those results will mean. Wouldn’t be on cable if we didn’t.

And so viewers of MSNBC know that on Super Tuesday 2008 the following persons were (or would be found to have been) Repudiated:

1) Bill Clinton. Per MSNBC analyst/Washington Post columnist Eugene Robinson at 7:51pm last night: “I think this will end up — this evening will end up being a repudiation of Bill Clinton.”

2) John McCain. Per MSNBC’s Joe Scarborough, in response to Robinson’s above assertion: “I think tonight on the conservative side, we will see a repudiation of John McCain.”

3) Sen. Ted Kennedy/Gov. Deval Patrick/Sen. John Kerry. From MSNBC analyst/Newsweek columnist Howard Fineman: “[Clinton’s Massachusetts win] is also a repudiation of Deval Patrick, the governor. Usually governors have pretty strong political machines… I think that [Kennedy/Patrick/Kerry] triumvirate just didn’t deliver [for Obama]…I think that one of the ironic results of tonight may be that, while the Kennedys are respected by the Democrats, the Kennedys don’t have as much pull on either the inside game or the outside game as all the punditocracy, who were reared on the Kennedys, thought they do.”

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Yes, Repudiation really can be in the eye of the beholder.

And this being so, maybe I’ll read last night’s results—both Republican and Democratic, still-emerging as the latter may be—as a clear Repudiation Of pundits referring to “the punditocracy” as if they were not of it.

Liz Cox Barrett is a writer at CJR.