“Angry,” Hostile Whites May Cost Democrats in “Racially Polarized” Mississippi
Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter unloads his racial baggage on the state’s U.S. Senate race: “The numbers in this state — which has perhaps the most racially polarized electorate in the nation — do not favor the Democrat: whites, the majority, overwhelmingly vote Republican, and 85 percent of them voted for President Bush in 2004.”
Posted by: Clay Waters
10/17/2008 4:25:57 PM
On Friday afternoon, Southern-based reporter Adam Nossiter filed from Jackson, Mississippi (Times Watch’s hometown) on the trail of the U.S. Senate race between Democratic challenger Ronnie Musgrove and Republican incumbent Roger Wicker. Nossiter didn’t forget to pack his racial baggage for the trip:
As a Democrat running for the Senate in the Republican stronghold of Mississippi, Ronnie Musgrove faces a challenge that was summed up in the angry words of a middle-aged white voter doing business at the courthouse here this week.
“I wouldn’t vote for him if he was the last man on earth,” said Roger Case, an employee of a fire-extinguisher company, as Mr. Musgrove campaigned a few yards away. Blacks in the courthouse beamed at Mr. Musgrove, a lanky former governor; whites, mostly, looked the other way.
Mississippi has not elected a Democrat to an open Senate seat since 1947, but that is not stopping the Democratic Party from heavily financing a major effort here, one of a handful of states — including North Carolina, Minnesota and possibly Oregon — it thinks it can pull from Republicans this fall in a reach for the filibuster-proof 60-vote majority.
Nossiter stacked the deck of race cards by not breaking down the percentage of blacks that vote Democrat, only the percentage of whites that vote Republican.
The odds for a Democratic pickup, however, out of all the states in play, may be longest in Mississippi.
The numbers in this state — which has perhaps the most racially polarized electorate in the nation — do not favor the Democrat: whites, the majority, overwhelmingly vote Republican, and 85 percent of them voted for President Bush in 2004. Even if there is a record black turnout, Mr. Musgrove would have to get about 30 percent of the white vote to win. Nonetheless, analysts give Mr. Musgrove, a hill-country populist who championed education during his terms as governor and lieutenant governor, a better-than-passing chance, particularly as the credit squeeze penetrates even here.
And look at the sneaky way Nossiter conflated the now-disreputable Confederate flag with the state and U.S. flag.
Mr. Wicker is making sure the flag issue stays on voters’ minds, running a ubiquitous television advertisement this week saying Mr. Musgrove “tried to kill our state flag.” At the fish-fry rally for the Republican, an outsized flag, Confederate heraldry intact, presided over the room. On the highway into Jackson, billowing, gargantuan Mississippi and American flags fly over a giant banner promoting the McCain-Palin ticket.
Mr. Wicker is identifying himself with all three banners, a strategy to compensate for his unknown status outside his home precincts in the northern part of Mississippi, though he represented it over seven terms in Congress.
Later, Nossiter assumed that “liberal” is a toothless scare word that has no real meaning, (although he’s never had a problem using “conservative” to mean something specific and kind of nasty).
Privately some Democratic insiders still give the edge to Mr. Wicker, in a state where the word “liberal” is still the most potent scarecrow of all.
Larry Rohter Takes a Wrench to “Joe the Plumber”
Don’t cross our favorite candidate or this may happen to you: “As it turns out, Joe the Plumber…may work in the plumbing business, but he is not a licensed plumber….His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes back taxes, too, public records show.”
Posted by: Clay Waters
10/17/2008 5:04:44 PM
Embarrass Obama, and expect the liberal media to go after you, no matter who you are: That’s what National Review journalist Byron York warned early Thursday afternoon.
He was quickly proven right by a story from reporter Larry Rohter in Friday’s Times, “Real Deal On Plumber Reveals New Slant,” in which Rohter took a wrench to Joe Wurzelbacher (aka “Joe the Plumber”), the citizen who dared to question Obama on his tax plan as the Democrat campaigned in his neighborhood in Toledo, Ohio. Obama responded with a classic paleo-liberal cliche: “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody.”
That insight into Obama’s mindset was politically fascinating, but Rohter buried it in the 11th paragraph of his story, focusing his investigation on such vital matters as “Joe’s” actual first name (Samuel) and whether or not he has a plumber’s license.
The story was teased with an over-the-fold front-page photo of Wurzelbacher talking to the press. The caption sneered: “Joe Wurzelbacher, a national figure after Wednesday’s presidential debate, learned Thursday that fame has two sides.” As if Wurzelbacher intended to become famous when he had the temerity to ask the media’s favored candidate a challenging question.
One week ago, Joe Wurzelbacher was just another working man living in a modest house outside Toledo, Ohio, and thinking about how to buy the plumbing business where he works. But when he stopped Senator Barack Obama during a visit to his block last weekend to complain about taxes, he set himself on a path to becoming America’s newest media celebrity — and as such suddenly found himself facing celebrity-level scrutiny.
Besides digging up other grievous scandals such as Wurzelbacher allegedly committing acts of plumbing without government permission, Rohter found a local union official (whose union endorsed Obama) to hammer him.
As it turns out, Joe the Plumber, as he became nationally known when Senator John McCain made him a theme at Wednesday’s final presidential debate, may work in the plumbing business, but he is not a licensed plumber.
Thomas Joseph, the business manager of Local 50 of the United Association of Plumbers, Steamfitters and Service Mechanics, based in Toledo, said Thursday that Mr. Wurzelbacher had never held a plumber’s license, which is required in Toledo and several surrounding municipalities. He also never completed an apprenticeship and does not belong to the plumber’s union, which has endorsed Mr. Obama. On Thursday, he acknowledged that he does plumbing work even though he does not have a license.
His full name is Samuel J. Wurzelbacher. And he owes back taxes, too, public records show. The premise of his complaint to Mr. Obama about taxes may also be flawed, according to tax analysts. Contrary to what Mr. Wurzelbacher asserted and Mr. McCain echoed, neither his personal taxes nor those of the business where he works are likely to rise if Mr. Obama’s tax plan were to go into effect, they said.
Why would the Times go after an ordinary Joe asking a presidential candidate a question at a campaign stop? Oh, right:
But he became the hero of conservatives and Republicans when he stopped Mr. Obama, who was campaigning on his street, and asked whether he believed in the American dream. Mr. Wurzelbacher said he was concerned about having to pay higher taxes as an owner of a small business.
“I’m getting ready to buy a company that makes $250,000 to $280,000 a year,” he told Mr. Obama. “Your new tax plan is going to tax me more, isn’t it?”
That encounter wound up on YouTube and led to appearances on the Fox News Channel, interviews with conservative bloggers and a New York Post editorial, all of whom seized on a small part of Mr. Obama’s long reply. “I think that when you spread the wealth around, it’s good for everybody,” Mr. Obama had said.
According to public records, Mr. Wurzelbacher has been subject to two liens, each over $1,100. One, with a hospital, has been settled, but a tax lien with the State of Ohio is still outstanding.
The Times has already shown far more avid curiosity about Wurzelbacher’s personal life than it ever displayed regarding Obama’s domestic terrorist supporter, Bill Ayers.
There’s a double standard at work at the Times regarding the private affairs of public citizens thrust into the political spotlight. Back in October 2007, Democrats paraded 12-year old Baltimore resident Graeme Frost as its poster boy for expanding the State Children’s Health Insurance Program, a government program to assist families without health insurance. The program helped Graeme after a car accident left him in comatose for a week. The Democratic Party pushed him into the spotlight to deliver the Democratic radio address on September 29, 2007 (hat tip K. Daniel Glover at Eyeblast.tv).
When conservatives pointed out that the Frost family was hardly destitute and could have easily afforded health insurance on its own, the Times and the rest of the media were aghast at conservatives for prying into the Frost’s family finances. Times reporter David Herszenhorn went after bloggers for “attacking a family with injured children.”
But go after the media messiah and you are fair game for pro-Obama reporters like Rohter.
Vicki Iseman Suggests Libel Suit vs. NYT Over McCain Affair Allegations
Edward Pound interviewed Iseman for National Journal: “Iseman says she answered every question put to her by The Times, but that the newspaper ‘chose to disregard’ many of her answers.”
Posted by: Clay Waters
10/17/2008 11:23:39 AM
Telecommunications lobbyist Vicki Iseman, who the Times suggested had an affair with John McCain in a tabloid-style story back in February, is still steamed and is considering a libel suit against the paper. She sat down with National Journal’s Edward Pound for an exclusive interview in “Lobbyist Speaks: Rumor Of McCain Affair False, Damaging,” where she accused the Times of disregarding her answers and being “wrong on all counts.”
What did Iseman, whose blond good looks helped to drive the story, have to say about the explosive allegations? She refused to be interviewed by The Times , but in e-mail exchanges with the paper’s reporters, she denied ever having a romantic relationship with McCain and disputed key assertions made by The Times ‘ unnamed sources.
She denies an affair, saying her relationship with McCain was “strictly professional” and cordial and that she had never been alone with him
Iseman says she answered every question put to her by The Times, but that the newspaper “chose to disregard” many of her answers. “The New York Times set out to write a story about a ‘romantic relationship’ in exchange for legislative favors….Make the lobbyist a prostitute — pretty heady stuff. The only problem was, they were wrong on all counts.”
Iseman alleged career blowback:
Strangers, she says, sometimes blame her for damaging McCain. “While waiting in the ladies room line, [a woman] told me that I should be ashamed of myself for what I did to ‘that man, Senator McCain,’ ” Iseman recalls. “To this day, I will be typing on my computer and will get an e-mail calling me the worst of the worst names.” She also says that three clients dropped her after The Times ‘ story.
Kevin Williamson at National Review’s Media Blog pointed to the National Journal’s headline and sees possible litigation in the future: “I hope Iseman has hired a very hungry lawyer.” Indeed, Pound wrote that Iseman is considering filing a libel suit against the Times:
The fallout from the story, Iseman says, has been costly. She has retained Rodney Smolla, a First Amendment scholar and the dean of the Washington and Lee University School of Law, as part of a legal team and is considering filing a libel suit against The Times. She believes she has lost three major clients as a result, she says, although she can’t prove that. She recounted how one longtime client terminated its arrangement with her firm shortly after The Times story hit