Whatever Happened To Clinton Fatigue?

During a discussion on This Week this morning about the , ABC News reporter cited showing that 66% of Americans were happy with the job President did, that a majority thought Hillary would chart a different course than her husband, and that was okay, and they felt comfortable with Bill back in the White House.

"Everyone was talking about Clinton Fatigue," Shipman said.

No. You were talking about Clinton Fatigue. You, and all of your Beltway journalism colleagues.

This is one of my absolute biggest annoyances with national political reporting: The herd mentality. It was clear to me from the start that when I kept hearing these DC political pundits saying that the country has got Clinton Fatigue, what they were really saying was that they had Clinton Fatigue.

So the national press ran with it; it was an assertion that was bandied about as if it were fact but unsupported by any facts.

There are plenty of national political reporters who do a fine job but they are all creatures of their own environment and therefore susceptible to it. The fact that Clinton Fatigue was a major theme in the reporting of the presidential race for quite some time, illustrates just how insular the DC press has become.

Who, after all, do the national political correspondents talk to all day? Themselves and their inside-the-beltway sources. They live in a rhetorical echo chamber that is often far removed from the sentiment of the rest of the country.

Turns out, according to these recent poll numbers, there is no Clinton Fatigue. It never existed. Except in the collective mind of our national press corps.

Minneapolis 35W Bridge Collapse News & Links

Updated: 1:40 A.M. CST.

Seven fatalities have been confirmed, 20 missing, 60 injured but those numbers are
expected to rise. Operations at the collapse site have been suspended
for the night but will resume in the morning. Traffic rerouting for
tomorrow is being planned and will be posted on the Minneapolis web site.

The 35W highway bridge over the Mississippi river collapsed today at 6:09 p.m., sending rush hour traffic plunging into the river. MNDoT reports only surface repairs conducted on the bridge at the time. The portion of the bridge was near the Metrodome.

Governor Tim Pawlenty says federal support is in place. Plans being constructed by Met Council to deal with traffic issues in the aftermath of the collapse. Highway 280 will be transformed into a freeway with no traffic lights.

Bridge was inspected in 2005 & 2006.

Homeland Security has announced they do not believe this disaster is due to terrorism.

HCMC PATIENT INFORMATION LINE: 612-873-3131. People wondering about loved ones should go to the Holiday Inn Metrodome, 7 Corners ballroom, KARE TV reports.

Find out how to help at RedCrossTC.org. DONATION HOTLINE: 621-460-3700.

People are urged not to use cell phones unless absolutely necessary.

Elwyn Tinklenberg, Transportation Commissioner under Governor Ventura, said on KARE TV tonight that the failure to raise the gas tax in particular, and the reduced budgets for transportation are largely to blame for the bridge’s collapse.

I’ve been saying for a while that Minnesota’s infrastructure is crumbling; tragically, that has literally happened.

The follow are links to the news sources covering the disaster:

What About Herschel Walker?

, the paper ranks the 10 biggest trades in Vikings history from best to worst. Best? The trade that brought back from New York. Fair enough. The worst? The trade.

Sure, that was a bad trade but, um, what about ?!? Please. The Herschel Walker trade was without a doubt the worst trade in ‘ history, if not in NFL history.

At the time it was the largest player trade in NFL history, probably still is. On October 12, 1989, Vikings general manager Mike Lynn sent linebackers Jesse Solomon and David Howard, defensive back Issiac Holt, defensive end Alex Stewart, and running back Darrin Nelson, and 6 draft picks (conditional picks in the 1st & 2nd round in 1990 and 1991 and their 1st round and a conditional 3rd round pick in 1992) to the for their star running back, Herschel Walker.

Dallas shrewdly waived and schemed and manuevered and ended up drafting the team that built their Super Bowl dynasty of the 90s on the foundation of the Herschel Walker trade.

The most notable players the Cowboys got in the deal were running back , defensive tackle , cornerback Kevin Smith, Pro Bowl safety , and cornerback Clayton Holmes.

It took nearly a decade for the Vikings to recover.

C’mon.

Maybe there’s a reason Knight Ridder was being sold.

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Reason 4,553.98 Why I Love The Internet

I love the Internet(s) so much. How much? This much:

Mistakes can be hilarious, as Harry Shearer demonstrates to great effect each week. Shearer devotes a segement of his radio show, Le Show, to detailng the apologies of the week with The BeatlesUncle Albert playing in the background: We’re so sorry

Likewise, Craig Silverman‘s Regret The Error blog does a superb job of chronicling the mistakes of the news media. His December 13 post details 2005’s best errors and corrections,

The Correction of the Year goes to the Denver Daily News who ran a story that referred to New Jersey as "Jew Jersey." Oops.

Mayor Randy Kelly’s Major Snafu

St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly called a press conference yesterday for what was billed as a "major" announcement about the state of the mayoral race. Turns out, it was just a way to get footage for a campaign television commercial, with the press corps as unwitting props.

Not surprisingly, that didn’t go over too well with the media and it shows in their coverage of the announcement.

Ostensibly, the "news" to come out of the announcement was that Kelly feels your pain over his endorsement of President George Bush. But that only works if you are not the person who caused the pain the first place or if you apologize for inflicting the pain. Kelly did not.

The press corps absolutely nailed Kelly for dragging them out under false pretenses. The Star Tribune teased their coverage at the top of the front page with "St. Paul Mayor Asks Voters To Consider Record, Not Bush Endorsement." That’s mild enough. But on the front page of the Metro section, an above-the-fold sidebar story is entitled "His Party? Kelly says it remains Democrat." The opening paragraph tells readers that Kelly’s "major address on the mayor’s race" was not that at all. The story quotes Chris Coleman spokesman Bob Hume calling the Kelly campaign "desperate." Reporter Jackie Crosby pointed out that freelance videographers recorded the event and quoted Kelly saying that they were not filming a campaign commercial.

Doug Grow weighed in with a scathing column, calling it "the most remarkable/ironic/desperate speech of his political career." Grow honed in on the stagecraft of the event–a handler finding a Hmong person to put onstage, Kelly’s makeup.

The Pioneer Press teased at the top of the front page: "Kelly asks voters to set aside controversy over Bush endorsement." The headline at the top of the Local section read "Kelly: ‘Don’t vote angry.’" Reporter Tim Nelson waits till the third graph to point out that Kelly’s so-called major announcement "didn’t include any new initiatives or any expression of contrition for the endorsement last August." Nelson, too, points out the presence of videographers and notes that Kelly said they were not filming a campaign commercial.

Nelson’s story jumps inside to 3B and above it is a story entitled "Coleman offers University Ave. plan." What contrast! Kelly stages a campaign commercial while Coleman is offering plans for St. Paul.

The PiPress‘ website features the text of Kelly’s speech [PDF] and video from the event.

Most damning, though, is KSTP TV’s coverage. They frame the story at the outset with anchor Joe Schmit saying "St. Paul’s Mayor said he had a major announcement to make about his reelection campaign but there’s some question about the term ‘major’" and tossed it to political reporter Tom Hauser.

The visuals were overpowering. Hauser’s report included a clip of Kelly and George Bush embracing during a campaign event. The KSTP team filmed the videographers recording the event and Hauser pointed this out in his report. And finally, they filmed Kelly denying his campaign was filming a television commercial. Kelly just looked scared in the clip.

Kelly’s press conference puts the lie to his dismissal of the primary showing as the result of hard-core, die-hard partisan DFLers pissed off at his endorsement of Bush. Clearly, Kelly knows that resentment is more widespread.

I know plenty of moderate, pro-business St. Paul Democrats who are singularly pissed off at Kelly for his endorsement of the president. These are people who voted for him the first time and would’ve been perfectly happy voting for him again. But for the Bush thing is enough for them to either vote against Kelly or just stay home. Unfortunately for Kelly, they have a great alternative to vote for in Chris Coleman, a moderate, pro-business Democrat like themselves.

I even know of moderate Republicans in St. Paul who are supporting Coleman because of Kelly’s endorsement of Bush.

That’s why this "press conference" was truly a desperate act and Kelly’s real problem is that he cannot renounce Bush without looking even more desperate.

Katherine Kersten – Minnesota’s Worst Writer?

I know something about writing so I know it’s not literally true that Star Tribune columnist Katherine Kersten is actually Minnesota’s worst writer, as Minnesota’s liberal bloggers would have you believe. But I’ll agree that she is Minnesota’s worst paid writer. It’s a shame the Strib had to pick Kersten–who, prior to being hired by the paper, was at the heart of one of Minnesota’s most profoundly conservative political institutions, the Center of the American Experiment think tank–to mollify the paper’s conservative critics who, no doubt, mumble in their sleep about the paper being too liberal.

Whatever. Kersten was obviously a public relations hire because it’s patently obvious she’s not expected to meet many journalistic standards.

The liberal bloggers have had a field day in the political blood sport of picking apart Kersten’s columns. It’s almost like shooting fish in a barrel, but it looks like so much fun, I just have to jump in:

Kersten’s only purpose with her column, it appears, is to spread pedestrian, boilerplate, conservative dogma to all corners of Minnesota. Her hobgoblin today is predictable enough: Liberal academia; her argument is that they’ve lowered our standards for artistic excellence.

Kersten frames her argument at the outset by using a patently offensive example that she can imply is the rule rather than the exception it truly is:

When you think of "outside the box" art, what comes to mind? Elephant dung splattered on a picture of the Madonna?

Actually, that is not what comes to mind for me, but I see where she’s going. Kersten uses The Atelier, a Minneapolis art academy that teaches the techniques of the Old Masters, as her contrast in her attempt to prove that LIB-eral academe disdains the Masters in favor of Modern Art.

I, too, prefer the Masters to Modern Art but I’m pretty certain that that’s were I part company with Kersten on probably any other subject in the world. The problem, as with all of Kersten’s columns, is she fails to deliver any evidence to support her thesis; a standard she’d fail to meet in any high school composition class. Which is why I find it deliciously ironic that the woman is always on about standards, especially academic ones!

Assertions are not proof, but that’s all Kersten seems to have:

But in the 1950s and ’60s, Lack [the founder of the Atelier] and artists like him were shut out of galleries and museums as the juggernaut of modern art swept all before it.

It’s perfectly believable, but where’s the proof? How bout numbers on gallery showings and museum exhibits for Modern Art versus Classic art? Nope, Kersten offers nothing. Perhaps I’m being too hard on Kersten; after all, that kind of data may not even be available. I’m not being too hard on her. Several paragraphs later, she writes:

Atelier teaches foundational artistic techniques that generally get short shrift — if they’re taught at all — at today’s art colleges and university art departments.

I added the italics to highlight another of Kersten’s unproven assertions. It could be true but we’ll never know because Kersten has not bothered to do the research to support her argument. Surely among all of the well-funded conservative "think tanks" throughout the nation, someone‘s been tracking the amount of time academia devotes to traditional as opposed to Modern Art.

Five paragraphs later:

Today, establishment art programs generally discourage — even frown on — representational art.

No proof. The closest Kersten comes to offering evidence to back up her argument is in the third from the last paragraph were she uses that rhetorical device conservative commentators have mastered, the anecdote:

Redpath [one of the Atelier’s co-directors] floated around looking for the right art school until she stumbled across the Atelier. While taking an art course at a local community college, she said, her teacher mentioned with disgust in her voice, "There’s a show downstairs I suppose you would like." It was an Atelier show, and Redpath was hooked.

Disgust in her voice!! Clearly, Liberals are destroying our traditions!

Let’s be charitable, give Kersten a pass, and concede that academia does not spend a ton of time on the Old Masters. Has it never occurred to Kersten that, if this is indeed true, it could simply be a matter of the problem that plagues every educator, Time? There is simply not enough time to teach all of the material you’d like to teach, so you end up short-changing all subjects?

Here’s a dirty little secret I learned when I was an art major: Modern Art is much more appealing to students whose skill may be lacking. It’s easier and it doesn’t take as much time. The students who truly have the skill, devotion, and patience to excel are the ones who will study the Old Masters and practice their techniques.

Here’s a generally known fact that Kersten seems oblivious to: Artists are a dime a dozen and there’s far more crappy art being created than there is good art. The phenomenon knows no school or movement; it flourishes amongst those emulating the Masters as much as it does those who splatter Pollocks.

Kersten’s criticism is misplaced. Rather than railing on LIB-er-al art professors, she should be criticizing lazy art students such as yours truly.

The thing is, Kersten’s column today could have been a great piece about a little art academy doing great work in our midst that few people know about. It’s been said that a great painting can be destroyed by the frame you put around it. The same can be said for this column. By framing her column in forced conservative dogma, it’s hard to focus on the great story she has otherwise painted.