The Dangers of Phoning it In

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 29 2010 8:01 AM

The Dangers of Phoning it In

I'm generally a fan of the Washington Examiner, despite a silly complaint I had back in May over a gossip item the paper ran about me. I like most of the paper's political columns, especially the ones turned in by Gene Healy and Tim Carney. But man oh man, are the paper's horse race political columns getting snooze-worthy. I'm not even sure that Michael Barone woke up before writing this one about "the Democratic party shrinking back to its bicoastal base."
Nowwe see Barack Obama campaigning at the University of Wisconsin atMadison, in Dane County where he won 73 percent of the vote in 2008,chiding students for their apparent apathy. Sen. Russ Feingold, wholives in Middleton, four miles away, was unable to make it -- and it'snot the first Obama event in Wisconsin he's skipped.
Actually, Feingold did make it to the rally, announcing his intentions in a Tuesday afternoon tweet and giving a brief speech from the stage. I noticed the mistake in the free print edition of the paper, but it's still online. Barone's correct that Feingold skipped a previous Obama event, but his arrival at the Wisconsin rally was genuinely interesting, as Democrats are currently in a battle to overcome voter anger over the rotten economy* by driving up enthusiasm with their base, and Feingold, unable to run the sort of "I'm not like the others" campaign he usually runs, has signed up in that battle. Anyway, it might be more interesting than another variation of the "polls show Dem doom" column.
 
*Basically all horse race columns could be replaced by the phrase "voters want jobs and are angry that they can't get them."
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UPDATE: Betsy Rothstein follows up and notes a correction from the paper, which is good. I quibble with her headline, though. Like I said, I think the paper's political coverage as a whole is good. But the columns by Byron York and Michael Barone, the two bigfoot conservative reporter/pundits whose hiring announced the Examiner's arrival as a top political source, too frequently just confirm what conservatives are already thinking or hoping about the GOP's political fortunes. They are exceptions , but as an owner of eight Barone Almanacs of American Politics and York's fantastic The Vast Left-Wing Conspiracy , I want more.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 

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