Mark Crispin Miller: Why They Chose Sarah Palin …And What to do About it…Posted in '04 Election, '08 Election, Mark Crispin Miller on September 17th, 2008
A Guest Editorial by author and NYU media professor, Mark Crispin Miller…
“Strategists say that Mr. McCain can now count on a more motivated social conservative base to help him in areas like southern Ohio, where the 2004 race was settled.”
—The New York Times, Sept. 7, 2008, A1
“In investigating the 2004 election in Ohio–examining pollbooks, talking to pollworkers and election officials, as well as reading local newspaper accounts –we could find no data of a late surge to the polls by born-again Christians. What we did find is certified voting totals in areas favoring Bush that didn’t match the number of voters who officially signed-in on the poll sign-in sheets.”
–Email from Bob Fitrakis of The Columbus Free Press, Sept. 7, 2008
To understand how Team McCain intends to get away with stealing this election, we must recall how Team Bush got away with it four years ago. (Those aren’t two different teams.)
The plan for stealing this contest has everything to do with the ostensibly surprising choice of Sarah Palin as McCain’s VP.
1. Election Day, 2004: The Myth of Bush’s Christian “Surge”
First, let’s recall that, after the 2004 election, everybody said that Bush had won because the true believers of the Christian right had come out–or, rather, poured forth–in unprecedented numbers, often at the last minute, to support him. Of course, by “everybody,” I’m referring to the entire commentariate, both mainstream and left/liberal. On TV and in print, in news analyses and op-ed articles, they all said that Bush/Cheney had been re-elected by America’s “values voters.”
And they said it with a certain awe–as well they should, since Bush’s victory was a sort of miracle. He had disapproval ratings in the upper 40’s: higher than LBJ’s in 1968, higher than Jimmy Carter’s in 1980. Nor was he very popular in his own party, as many top Republicans came out against him–including moderates like John Eisenhower, rightists like Bob Barr, and many others such as William Crowe (chair of the Joint Chiefs under Ronald Reagan), General Tony McPeak (former Air Force chief of staff and erstwhile Veteran for Bush), libertarian Doug Bandow, neocon Francis Fukuyama, Lee Iacocca and Jack Matlock, Jr. (Reagan’s ambassador to the USSR); and many other, lesser figures in his party also publicly rejected him.
And so did sixty (60) newspapers–all in “red” states–that had endorsed Bush four years earlier: two thirds of them now going for Kerry, the others none of the above. American Conservative, Pat Buchanan’s own magazine, ran endorsements of five different candidates, only one of them for Bush. And 169 tenured and emeritus professors from the world’s top business schools all signed a full-page ad decrying his economic policies, adducing them as reasons not to vote for him. (The ad was written by top faculty at his own alma mater, Harvard Business School.) The ad ran in the Financial Times, which, like The Economist, endorsed John Kerry.
And still Bush won, despite such big defections, thanks to that enormous turnout by the Christian right, as everybody kept on saying–even though there were good reasons to be very skeptical about that notion.