- Posted May 15, 2008 by
Grand Rapids, Michigan
This iReport is part of an assignment:
Edwards At Obama's GR Rally
I was at the Obama Rally tonight. I've been listening to the "pundits" on CNN since I got home. What passes for political wisdom from these "analysts" is not wisdom but partisanship. At the beginning of the night I was skeptical about politicians in general. I've lived through Watergate, the Teflon President, and the Bush Obfuscation. A few hours later, I find myself reluctantly thinking that maybe we've found our next motivational president. A few years ago, on a talk show, the actor Jay Thomas answered the "which party to you support?" question with a great line: "I'm anti-stupid." I've never heard a better explanation of a political stance, and I have found myself in that camp ever since. So let me offer a true independent's perspective on what happened here tonight. I should mention that I have no vested interest in any candidate. Previous to this I've found all candidates with faults and virtues, like humans have. In that "anti-stupid" vein, then...
Everyone in America needs to understand one thing about Grand Rapids. There isn't a more firmly socially and fiscally conservative city in the country. Some may match it, but none can exceed the inbred conservative nature of this, Michigan's second-largest city. It isn't McCain country
it's more Huckabee country. So to get 12,000 people to come see a left-of-center candidate like Obama should be seen as a major political miracle. These people aren't from other states. I saw people I know there. I saw students wearing t-shirts from area high schools. I saw people holding signs that read "EGR for Obama"that is, East Grand Rapids for Obama. That's right, Gerald Ford's East Grand Rapids. The people I was with knew several people as well.
I've heard CNN's analysts say things like, "Obama has to work on getting the white vote." Idiotic. If Grand Rapids is any measure of this non-issue, then Obama has more than enough support among all lines of race. GR is very predominantly white. A very large percentage of the people at tonight's rally were white. There were many Hispanic people there (GR is the heart of the West Michigan agricultural community, which includes many Hispanic people). It may well be that there are pockets of America where racism is so deeply felt that people will vote for McCain just to vote against an African-American (even if he would be a better representative of their interests). But it seemed to me tonight that there were many more white people eager to embrace the candidate, and had no concern whatsoever with his ethnicity.
Someone on the panel suggested that Edwards had more good things to say about Clinton than Obama. Whoever it was should voluntarily resign from CNN and go into selling groceries. He doesn't know what he's talking about--he clearly wasn't watching Edwards' speech. Edwards did make many nice comments about Clinton, it's true, before launching into his reasoning for Barack. But when he had finished that short aside, Edwards spent a good 15 minutes extolling the virtues of Obama's support for the interests of the poor, homeless, poorly educated, and struggling familes. And his honeydripping over Clinton was not very well receieved. Clinton is not as popular up here as she might think.
Two other things I have found lacking in CNN's coverage of the rally. First, it was clear to everyone I spoke with after the rally
a dozen people at leastthat this was more than an endorsement. Edwards' final two minutes seemed profoundly more than an endorsement. They sounded to all of us every single one of us, without exception or doubtthat Edwards was positioning himself as Obama's running mate. When Obama took the podium again, he also spoke in the "John and I will work together to make this country better" tone. How could CNN miss this? Because its "analysts" are too busy falling all over each other trying to one-up themselves to be the most partisan, most supportive of their candidate. This isn't news analysis, CNN. It's huckstering. And it's shameful to suggest itself as being newsworthy.
Secondly, there was no doubt in any of the minds of the people I spoke with that not only were Obama and Edwards strongly hinting that they were going to be the ticket in the fall, but that they have already written in the planks of the majority of the party platform. There was a VERY strong element of "these are the things we will change".
Your partisan analysts are adding nothing to the discussion of the merits of these candidates. Unfortunately, they are perpetuating myths about all of the candidates that a good news organization should be diligently busting.
Three images here. First is the outside of the Van Andel Arena (by the way, built by, and named for, one of the most conservative American businessmen you will ever meet--nobody on the air mentioned THAT wonderful irony, either). The picture should go a long way to showing the diverse cross-section of people at the rally.
The second is a short video that provides more than the non-revealing 10-second bites the networks are giving us. In it Edwards announces his support for Obama. See if it doesn't sound to you like he is positioning himself as more than a mere supporter. Third is a short section that sounds a whole lot like detailing party platform planks.
I'm disappointed so far by CNN's insistence on pooling heavily partisan politicians and foisting them off as the best political team in America. Occasional discussions with one at a time would be useful to viewers to get insights into the campaigns of the candidates. But putting them together to argue their very biased positions, and claiming them to be analysts, insults me. It should insult the true news people who made CNN the world's most respected news source.