Media Reading

Just a quick thought: when you watch Tuesday night’s debate, see who is in the middle.

Romney has always been in the middle; he’s the frontrunner. When Perry got top billing, he was next to him. Then it was Bachmann, and at the corners were the fringes. Now Cain is moving up. Look to see if the debate organizers play up this horse-race aspect of the race on Tuesday, and put him in the center with Romney. See if they emphasize the current frontrunners, or if they try to give equal billing to everyone. The other debates have consistently pitted number one versus number two, but maybe this will be the exception. We’ll see.

Michele

So I found out today I had been spelling Michele Bachmann wrong. I had Bachmann right, but there is one L in Michele. I’d been using two.

I also found out some New Hampshire voters are not pleased she waited so long before visiting.

Bachmann is now a margin-of-error candidate in the Granite State. In June and July she was polling as high as 18 percent, second only to Mitt Romney. Now she’s hovering around 2 percent. Not a good sign, but in some ways it’s still early.

Not that she should be concentrating on New Hampshire anyway. She’s a strong candidate in Iowa and South Carolina, where social conservatives have a louder voice. Up here Independent voters and even Democrats can opt into the primary, making it tough for a candidate with her views to win. Plus the frontrunner owns a house here and governed one state a way. And libertarian Ron Paul has a strong network here. To expect Bachmann to make serious inroads is too much.

Still, not visiting for four months might be too long for someone serious about a White House bid. I met fans of her’s today who were cautious about her for exactly that reason.

If she pulls off another strong debate performance, however, she could easily shoot upwards. Still three months to go. Can’t wait to find out where things land.

Hopefully you caught my NHPR piece this morning. If you didn’t, I’ll post a link soon. I’ll have coverage in the Conway Daily Sun too, so don’t miss it.

GO, GO, GO!

Four days into Irene coverage, Gov. John Lynch stopped by. It was the same day a presidential candidate stopped in, and the same day I decided to tour the area hit hardest by the storm, and a day after someone got killed by their own tractor.

Some days come faster than others.

A guy this morning was driving through Transville Acres, where numerous houses got flooded, dropping leaflets on cars destroyed in the flood saying he buys junk cars. He wasn’t trying to profit off other people’s loss, he said, but these people could probably use a couple hundred bucks.

One guy lost something like eight guitars. Another guy lost thousands of dollars in power tools. And Buddy Roemer couldn’t stop calling me “Virginia,” after he asked if I was from Texas and I said no, I was born in Charlottesville.

Days like this are few and far between, but it had me shooting photos, pushing a Harvard educated economist, former congressman and governor on trade policy, asking the governor what the state would do for these people and talking with a guy whose trailer got tossed like a horseshoe.

I love this job. Every day should be as good.

The Power of Wind, God, and Ideology

This is what I stumbled on today: a 145-foot long wind turbine blade on a trailer with ruptured brakes. Who even knew brakes could rupture?

It was a cool find, and I had a great time talking with the team transporting this thing to the North Country about it. It weighs five tons and is made out of balsa wood and fiberglass. To me it looks like an eel, a whale fin or a dinosaur part (think stegosaurus plate), but everyone who came up asked if it was an airplane wing. How unimaginative!

Last night I read this about the formation of Michele Bachmann’s political ideology, and tonight I finished Andrew Bacevich’s The Limits of Power: The end of American Exceptionalism. What differing worlds: Bachmann’s view is founded in faith, while Bacevich argues our best days are behind us if we don’t start owning up to our difficulties.

The blade exemplifies their differences perfectly: to Bacevich it’s the future, to Bachmann it’s a farce. It’s amazing that they both are part of serious political dialog, considering how far apart they are. And it’s equally amazing that both of them can find legions of supporters.

I’m watching the Republican convention roll inexorably toward New Hampshire, and this trifecta got me that much more excited. Ideology is a crazy thing, particularly if deeply rooted. Washington already has too much of it oozing out every window. I’m not sure more is called for, but we’ll see how the voters turn.

I had to think, however, that God and ideology determine the division of our energy sector. For some people, though, there’s more power in the devine than can be harnessed from wind. I wonder what that worldview would do in the White House.

Parting shot:

One More Candidate…

We had former New Mexico governor Gary Johnson in the office a bit ago. He sat and talked to us for an hour, and I recorded a video (as usual). He was really interesting, the kind of guy you both trust and might trust to do a good job in office. The only problem is recent polls have him below 1 percent.

I know I’m not helping. I have an hour of video I haven’t posted yet (my wife’s birthday had me running up to Quebec for a long weekend, and I just haven’t sat down to process it). But when I look at the primary system I get the feeling such an electable candidate can’t make it far.

Here’s my view on the current hot candidates: Romney is like Kerry in 2004 — he similar name recognition, and evokes a similar lack of enthusiasm. He would be tough for conservatives to get behind.

Then there’s Bachmann, who’s campaign sends me eight emails a day, despite not once coming near my coverage area. She’s a Tea Party favorite, but I’ll be interested to see how centrist voters view Tea Party candidates once this debt ceiling debate winds down. Hardliners appeal to primary voters, but in the general election she’d have a tough time drawing in the center. Nominating here would be akin to voting for Obama, I’d bet.

Huntsman and Johnson could have a shot, but no one knows who they are. Pawlenty and Santorum don’t seem to have gained traction. Gingrich’s campaign began with a flop and has since headed down. Ron Paul has generated excitement (clearly), but he again is like Bachmann—not the kind of guy to win in the general election.

The primary process weeds out the moderates. At the Sun we get the chance to chat with these people, and the people who give reasonable, rational, pragmatic, non-ideological answers are the ones who will never make it anywhere. The most interesting candidate we’ve had so far, the one who could most like give Obama a run for his money, is Johnson. Unfortunately, name recognition is more important than policy positions. Otherwise it could be a real race next November.

Update: This is what I mean—only one candidate for the debt ceiling compromise! Instead the candidates supported self-imposed economic calamity. Scary. November 2012!

Encouraging Words

The Ron Paul interviews are approaching 7,000 views, and when I got into work today I got this encouraging email:

 

As the last print journalist, I understand where Mr. McDanel is coming from. The coverage of the Casey Anthony trial (of which I know next to nothing) adds so little to our public discourse, and yet hundreds of millions of dollars have been devoted to it. The substance of what candidates actually stand for, meanwhile, is crucial to our democracy. If people aren’t informed they can’t self-govern. Newspapers still play a crucial role in this. It’s good some people still recognize it.

On the other hand it’s too bad it takes a video posted on YouTube to make someone appreciate newspapers again. Hopefully that isn’t a sign of the print apocalypse.