"And in Iowa, Donald Trump's loss wasn't really a loss, because he finished with the most votes in Iowa caucus history, save Ted Cruz."
-- MSNBC reporter Katy Tur
Right, indeed. And it's important to remember that Mitt Romney's loss in 2012 wasn't really a loss, because he finished with the most electoral votes in the presidential election, save Barack Obama.
And John McCain's loss in 2008 wasn't really a loss, because he finished with the most electoral votes in the presidential election, save Barack Obama.
So, the Republican Party has actually been in control of the White House for the past eight years. It would have been the past 16 years, except that John Kerry and Al Gore's losses weren't really losses because they finished with the most electoral votes in the previous two presidential elections, save George W. Bush.
I understand Ms. Tur's enthusiasm standing there in the excited Donald Trump campaign ballroom as NBC projected him to be the winner, amid cheering and balloons. Excitement is infectious. But then, she's a reporter and supposed to be standing outside it all.
Speaking of projecting the winners, given that New Hampshire is such a very tiny state, and individual votes actually matter there a whole lot, I thought that while it was understandable it was also a bit irresponsible of MSNBC, to "call" the two party winners within minutes of the polls closing, all the while reporting that there were still mile-long lines of people waiting to vote. Their admonition to voters standing in line to "stick with it because your votes still do matter" was paltry and borderline disingenuous, considering that a) people standing in line likely weren't watching TV to hear the supportive admonition, though they could certainly get the word spread that MSNBC had just called the winner, and b) it's not unreasonable to think there'd be people who might not particularly want to stand in a mile-long line to vote in an election that was reported to be "over."
To be fair, I'm sure that all the news channels made the same early call, not wanting to be beaten to the punch by their competitors, so this isn't just an MSNBC thing. And I do understand making projections. I also understand that, to me, it wasn't the most responsible action to take.
And a note on Steve Schmidt on MSNBC, who I still sort of like, but am losing layers of respect for regularly -- it would be oh-so nice if he quit continuing trying to be an objective analyst while likely embarrassed that his GOP brand is heavily supporting Donald Trump and therefore trying to spread the embarrassment around by claiming there is a "mistrust" in America today which therefore (supposedly, according to Mr. Schmidt) explains the success of outsiders like Trump and Bernie Sanders. I'm sorry, but they aren't the same. They aren't close to the same. They aren't in the universe of same. Bernie Sanders has been in the Senate and U.S. House of Representatives for 25 years. He has a long record as a politician (before that, even a mayor), and has long been widely admired as a politician by many for his policies and decency. He is building up significant support for a range of reasons, some of which include that many Democratic voters actually have long-admired his politics, for decades.
To Rachel Maddow's credit, she told Steve Schmidt that she disagreed with him, "with all due respect," and that people are supporting Donald Trump and Bernie Sanders for very different reasons. And so they are.
And to the credit of Chris Hayes on MSNBC, amid all the hullabaloo and breathless excitement, he stepped back to add the perspective of how much Donald Trump has changed the political landscape because "two-thirds of Republican voters in New Hampshire in exits polls said they supported banning Muslims from entering the country, which as a policy was being decried as flirting with fascism just a few months ago. Here it's now a favored majority opinion of Republican voters in New Hampshire." Good for him reminding people of the "F" word. And for Rachel Maddow adding that the election result must be sending a chill to Muslim-Americans.
On the other hand, there was also Dana Bash on CNN who, after showing a clip of Donald Trump repeating his standard lines during his acceptance speech, threw out all sense of perspective when she breathlessly said, "There he is, talking about America winning and making America great again. And now, when people think of Donald Trump, they're going to think of that." No, when people think of Donald Trump, opponents or supporters alike, they are going to think of racist, fascist, sexist comments about not wanting to let Muslims enter the country, and disparaging Mexican as rapists, and building a wall to keep Mexicans out, and suggesting that Carly Fiorina wasn't attractive enough to be president, and ridiculing a reporter for his physical disability, and saying if he wasn't her father he'd probably date his daughter, and insisting that war hero John McCain wasn't a hero because he got caught. And after all that, maybe some of his supporters will finally get around to thinking about Donald Trump and making America great again.
Perspective is always a good thing. Like being able to see during this night of exulting Donald Trump that Bernie Sanders on the Democratic side actually got 50% more (!) votes than Trump. In fact, even Hillary Clinton (when I checked with 85% of the vote in), had more votes than Trump. And two-thirds of New Hampshire Republicans didn't vote for Donald Trump. So, while he had a very successful night, it was a night that should be seen in proper, full perspective, not as a pure anointing of fascist, racist Trumpism.
I also wish, amid all the hoopla, hullabaloo and excitement, that as long as we're talking about perspective that someone all through the night on every news channel and news report would have repeatedly announced -- "And just a reminder, folks: while you're getting all breathlessly excited by the results on either side of the aisle and What This All Means...this is New Hampshire. It has 1.3 million residents, which is the population of San Antonio. Of which 93.9 percent of its citizens are white, and 1.1 percent are African-American."
But then, perhaps we can all get comfort from the words of Katy Tur and know that none of the candidates actually lost, since they each got the most votes...save the candidates above them.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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