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Hugh Hewitt Book Club

2008 Central

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This is a very interesting site promising “Non-partisan Comprehensive Coverage Of The 2008 U.S. Presidential Election.”

And it does indeed have a lot of links and a great collection of schedule information etc. It could become a daily go-to (or, more likely, RealClearPolitics or Politico could adopt some of the sites better ideas, like the daily schedule feature.) 

But –the big but– who are the operators and what perspective do they bring with them?  The promise of “non-partisan” coverage doesn’t tell me anything except how the operators would like to be perceived, and it certainly doesn’t tell me anything about their analytical skills.  I wrote Black Bag Ops almost three years ago, and the potential is greater than ever for mischief dressed up in League of Women Voters’ clothes.

Or they could be amateurs, without a real feel for what matters in politics.  I tend to think this is the case.

Here’s an example involving my interview with Mike Huckabee from Thursday:

    Mike Huckabee

  • Huckabee was interviewed by Hugh Hewitt, going in detail over his thoughts on immigration, guns, and his marathon times. Huckabee was asked about machine guns, to which he stated, “I’ve got friends who own them. They have the legal process to own them. But once again, I’m not afraid of a law abiding citizen owning anything. I’m afraid of a criminal getting his hands on a gun. That’s where the crackdown needs to be. This country’s gone crazy. It’s cracking down on law abiding citizens, and turning their heads at people who break the law. That’s the polar opposite.” Mike Huckabee has friends who own machine guns? More seriously, the long dialogue about his marathon times is one reason people might not take him seriously as a presidential candidate. It seems so trite for a presidential candidate in an interview to spend so much time talking about the marathon he ran in New York.
  • This bit tells me that the writers really don’t know much about politics as the ability of a candidate like Huckabee to connect with voters on some level other than politics is crucial to a campaign.  It is why Bill Clinton loved to play the sax, why Mitt Romney tells stories from his days leading the Salt Lake Olympic games, why Rudy can enthusiastically talk about growing up in Brooklyn. 

    By far the most popular chapters of my book –the ones generating the most e-mail from satisfied readers– are those on Romney’s youth and and his family.  The details of Mitt Romney’s life fascinate readers much more than the debate over whether his religion will matter in the ’08 cycle. The chapter on his early years growing up in Michigan as the son of a governor and presidential candidate begins with a quote from Ulysses S. Grant: “I read but few lives of great men, because biographies do not, as a rule, tell enough about the formative period of life.  What I want to know is what a man did as a boy.”  Grant was getting at a couple of points, one of which is that the public face of men and women are important parts –perhaps the most important parts– of their fitness for office, but that we really do need a fix on their whole person, and that fix begins in their childhood.  It also includes their private lives and leisure time activities, as it does as well their families and their faith.  Character matters enormously in the Oval Office, and we cannot assemble an understanding of a candidate’s character simply from their stump speeches and debate performances, or even a thousand YouTube videos.

    So it is hardly “trite” that like millions of Americans Mike Huckabee runs marathons.  I found his tale of finishing New York’s 26.2 miles on a very bad knee a very illuminating bit of information on whether Huckabee will be dropping out soon if the money doesn’t pick up.  If they are going to cover politics, the folks at 2008 Central are going to have to remember that voters like stories, and the most interesting stories about candidates have nothing to do with their position on the trade deficit.

    And speaking of stories, a little bio on the men behind the curtain at 2008 Central would help as well.  Actually, a lot of bio would be of use.

    One final Saturday morning note before a long, trite run: If Rush, Sean, Bill, Laura, Dennis, Michael, or I said anything remotely as offensive as this by Imus, we’d be off the air the same day.  Keep in mind Rush’s Monday Night Football career. The double standard in such matters is so huge as to not even be noticed anymore. I am reminded of Welcome to Shakesville’ characterization of the right wing blogs as “narrow, intolerant, exclusive, and hateful,” which they simply are not.  “Right wing blogs” and the center-right talkers listed (and we welcome Dennis Miller’s fine show to our number) thrive on intelligence, timing, good information, good writing, and good humor that can be sharp and devastating, but they never employs the racist or the vulgar.If any of those hosts named did not maintain that standard, you’d hear about it, and they’d be gone. 

    UPDATE: I neglected to mention P2008 as another election news/data aggregator, though clunky is too kind a description.

    Or you could just read Ed Driscoll for the really important stuff.


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