Pauline Kael Returns

Final thoughts on Tuesday's vote back in the old stomping grounds.  This video went viral on Wednesday.

"We're not just disappointed, this is the end of democracy. We just got outspent $34 million to $4 million. This was the biggest election in America and I hope he keep me on tonight because this hurts us all. Every single one of you out there in the nation, if you're watching, democracy died tonight...I'm very emotional because we all had invested in this. This was it. If we didn't win tonight, the end of the U.S. as we know it just happened. This is it. We just got outspent $34 million to $4 million. And we don't have any more resource left but the people you see here behind me. And if the people you see here behind me can't get it done tonight, it's done. Democracy's dead,"

First to answer the "we got out spent 7 (or 8 or 9 depending on who you are listening to) to 1" meme, I send you to Karl - a Wisconsin resident posting at Hot Air.

These claims, depending on the phraseology, range from misleading to flatly false, even based on the sources from which the claims are made.

The spending story stems from a release by the liberal Center for Public Integrity, which took based its analysis on data from the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign (ostensibly nonpartisan, but a past recipient of Soros money and the sort of group whose director told CPI the spending was “outrageous and wrong”). However, according to that data, when you combine the spending of the candidates and their supporting groups, the gap shrinks to 2-to-1.

Moreover, it is a fair bet those figures do not include all of the money spent by left-leaning groups on all candidates in the recall.

Indeed, it should be underscored that the left/media here is focused entirely on spending in the gubernatorial recall, when this election was just one of many the left attempted to turn into referenda on Gov. Walker’s public-sector collective bargaining reforms. If once considers the total amounts spent during the Days of Cheesehead Rage on state senate recall elections, Supreme Court elections and so on in 2011-12, the gap shrinks to roughly 1.5-to-1.

Lastly, these figures only account for sums legally required to be publicly reported (and assumes those sums are properly quantified). Rutgers University economist Leo Troy has estimated that actual union political spending is likely several times higher than generally reported. There is no reason to think otherwise in this case.

I lived in the Madison area for a couple of years.  I loved the town and the people, but there is (especially amongst the 18-30 year old set there) a certain myopic view of the state.  As far as these people are concerned, there is Madison, Milwaukee and not a whole lot else in the state (except maybe Eau Claire, the Dells and Green Bay).  To Madisonians the concept that the security guard at Lambeau Field or the truck stop waitress in Black River Falls or the farm wife in Marshfield  would off-set their votes is simply unimaginable.  This young man is suffering from an extreme case of Pauline Kael "How can Nixon have won?  No one I know voted for him." syndrome.

In short, these voter just don't comprehend that there are other views and opinions outside of theirs.  Michael Barone called it "cocooning".

It's comfortable living in a cocoon -- associating only with those who share your views, reading journalism and watching news that only reinforces them, avoiding those on the other side of the cultural divide.

Liberals have been doing this for a long time. In 1972, the movie critic Pauline Kael said it was odd that Richard Nixon was winning the election, because everyone she knew was for George McGovern.

Kael wasn't clueless about the rest of America. She was just observing that her own social circle was politically parochial.

The rest of us have increasingly sought out comfortable cocoons, too...

I've seen it on both sides.  However, when it comes to the isolationist, unable to cope with open debate, all one needs to do is look at the comments left on conservative blogs by liberal commenters.  Barone continues...

But cocooning has an asymmetrical effect on liberals and conservatives. Even in a cocoon, conservatives cannot avoid liberal mainstream media, liberal Hollywood entertainment and, these days, the liberal Obama administration.

They're made uncomfortably aware of the arguments of those on the other side. Which gives them an advantage in fashioning their own responses.

Liberals can protect themselves better against assaults from outside their cocoon. They can stay out of megachurches and make sure their remote controls never click on Fox News. They can stay off the AM radio dial so they will never hear Rush Limbaugh.

The problem is that this leaves them unprepared to make the best case for their side in public debate. They are too often not aware of holes in arguments that sound plausible when bandied between confreres entirely disposed to agree.

We have seen how this works on some issues this year.

Especially in the last 5 months...

Law that Obamacare's mandate to buy health insurance is unconstitutional. Some liberal scholars like Jack Balkin of Yale have addressed them with counterarguments of their own.

But liberal politicians and Eric Holder's Justice Department remained clueless about them. Speaker Nancy Pelosi, asked whether Obamacare was unconstitutional, could only gasp: "Are you serious? Are you serious?"

In March, after the Supreme Court heard extended oral argument on the case, CNN's Jeffrey Toobin was clearly flabbergasted that a majority of justices seemed to take the case against Obamacare's constitutionality very seriously indeed.

Liberals better informed about the other side's case might have drafted the legislation in a way to avoid this controversy. But nothing they heard in their cocoon alerted them to the danger.

Another case in point is Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's law restricting the bargaining powers of public employee unions. The unions and the crowds in Madison, which is both the state capital and a university town and which with surrounding Dane County voted 73 to 26 percent for Barack Obama, egged each other on with cries that this would destroy the working class. No one they knew found this implausible.

The unions had an economic motive to oppose the laws and seek to recall first Republican legislators and then Walker himself. The law ended the automatic checkoff of union dues, which operated as an involuntary transfer of money from taxpayers to union leaders.

But voters declined to recall enough Republicans to give Democrats a majority in the Senate, and Walker currently leads Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett in polls on the June 5 recall election.

The Madison mob seemed unaware that there were attractive arguments on Walker's side.

This was written before Tuesday's recall election obviously.

This, in large part, has led to the current tone of political discourse.  So many are so unwinning to even consider that there might be another way and when that possibility is brought up they react in childish anger (as we saw in Wisconsin) and in denial.

In closing, I refer you with the wit and wisdom of Jon Stewart on this particular issue.  Stewart delightfully skewers the Pauline Kael's on both sides.  Enjoy....

Written by LL.