Monday, June 30, 2008

Stanley Fish is bored

Stanley Fish argues that the general election campaign has been "totally uninteresting." But what does he cite in evidence? He's glad you asked:

"I cite in evidence the desperate efforts of cable-news commentators to fill out an hour or even 15 minutes arguing about whether Bill Clinton’s statement of support for Barack Obama was so brief and pro forma that it amounted to a slap in the face, or about whether Obama (or a staff member) was wise to banish women wearing head scarfs from photo-ops, or whether Michelle Obama came across as a regular – that is, all-American and not angry – person on “The View,” or whether John McCain could or should separate himself from George Bush."

I was ready to be persuaded, but my first reaction to this list was: Why is he naming the big stories? In fact, I'd say all four have been Big Stories and I think a case can be made for each one being a legitimately interesting story.

1) Clinton's statement was obviously so brief as to be a slap in the face. There wasn't really an argument to be had there. And the relationship (rivalry?) of the still extant and vital 42nd president and his party's nominee to be the 44th president is prima facie interesting.

2) This one was embarrassing as an Obama supporter, but it's the kind of story that the NYT is right to always be pushing. How can the campaign deflect the Muslim "smears" without themselves smearing Muslims by failing to make clear that they don't consider that a bad thing, or by telling them BO can't be seen with too many of them? I give them pretty poor marks in this department, personally, but are they just being pragmatists? Discuss (or get bored if you're Stanley Fish)

3) How is the marketing of the first black first lady not interesting?

4) Whether and to what extent McCain distances himself from Bush is sorta a key question. He's shown the capability of doing both (supporting forcefully and running away from), so he remains free to do whichever he deems more advantageous electorally.

I can only wonder what kind of stories Stanley Fish is hoping for. By cable news standards these are gold.

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