On the final episode of the War Room on Current TV, Dr. Jason Johnson discusses the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, as well as President Barack Obama’s reaction to Egyptian violence and the biggest stories facing America over the next few years.
Political analysts love to find ‘critical moments’ in political campaigns where ‘everything changed.’ In 1992, it was when George H.W. Bush looked at his watch during a town hall debate with Bill Clinton and Ross Perot, subsequently proving that he didn’t care about regular people. In 2004, it was when the Swift Boat Veterans hit John Kerry putting him down for the count. It’s simple and sexy to put elections down to one event or a couple of days, but in the case of Barack Obama this is probably true. In 2008, he actually won the presidential election on September 15th, NOT November 7th, and in 2012 it looks like he’s done it again, winning an election 6 weeks early because of critical events that just happen to pop up in his favor.
If you jump into the way-back machine in 2008 the weeks heading into the middle of September were not all that good for Senator Obama. He hadn’t made any particularly poor mistakes per se, but America was still in love with Sarah Palin, the GOP convention had gone over relatively well and the McCain/Palin ticket was pretty much in the lead throughout the month of September in 5 consecutive Gallup Polls.
Gallup Presidential Election Polls September 2008
|Sept 13th – 15th||47||46|
|Sept 8th – 10th||48||44|
|Sept 5th – 7th||49||44|
The Romney/Ryan ticket has never had the pizzazz of the McCain/Palin ticket, but they were hanging tough with Obama/Biden on the strength of anger over the lousy economy and angry Tea Partiers who still can’t believe there’s a black family living in 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. And here we are four years to the week, on the anniversary of the Lehman Brother’s bankruptcy no less, and the same phenomenon is about to happen. President Barack Obama was already coming off of a Democratic convention bounce of 3 to 5 points and then a foreign policy crisis hits that seems to have blown the race wide open. The attack on the Libyan embassy, the death of American citizens and subsequent protests in Yemen, Australia and other places have only shifted this race to the one area where Obama has a definitive advantage: foreign policy.
Even more damning for Mitt is that he placed his very expensively soled foot in his mouth earlier this week by criticizing the Obama administration about the Libyan attacks before he got his facts straight, further reminding voters that his greatest foreign policy experience was a two year mission stint in France (which he went on to avoid going to Vietnam). In one week, Obama has jumped out to a 5 point lead on Romney and more importantly the president is polling at over 50% in places like Florida, Ohio and Virginia.
I’m not saying Obama is the luckiest politician in American presidential history, but he might be close. Should he win his second election, we’ll look back on the week of September 15, 2012 the same way that we look back on September 15, 2008. The point where the whole election was pretty much over, and all that was left was a few more speeches and debates that weren’t about to change anyone’s mind.
This article originally appeared online at Politic365.com.
For several years, despite spending billions of dollars, having spy satellites that can record your ATM pin number from space and thousands of troops on the ground in Afghanistan, President Bush and his friends couldn’t find Osama bin Laden, a six-foot-tall bearded man on dialysis living in a cave. During this time the only news outlet that seemed to have any communication with bin Laden was Al Jazeera’s office in Qatar which received sporadic recorded videos of Osama’s infrequent proclamations usually around a time Bush’s poll numbers dipped below 50 percent.
Rather than the United States military and public appreciating the Al Jazeera network for reporting on Osama, or even better, being the only real insight into middle east thinking during the war, the opposite occurred. The administration and many American press outlets painted the network as aiding and abetting terrorists, despite no credible evidence to back up this assertion. Donald Rumsfeld went so far as to say the airing of Osama bin Laden’s videos was “vicious, inaccurate, and inexcusable,” a description better suited for the war itself rather than a fledgling news network bringing clarity in a time of chaos.
However unfair the accusations against Al Jazeera were, major cable providers like Comcast, Time Warner, Cablevision and DirecTV refused to pick up the network. The only cable providers where you can pick up Al Jazeera in 2011 are in Toledo, Ohio, Burlington, Vt. and the Washington, D.C. metro area. Reports show that hits to the Al Jazeera website have gone up over 2,000 percent in the last week, with more than half of that number coming from American audiences.
Could all of this newfound attention lead to Al Jazeera English breaking through and ending up on our local cable network this summer? Unfortunately I doubt it. In the interest of full disclosure, I have worked as a political analyst for Al Jazeera for more than four years and have always found their reporting to be insightful, fair and well sourced. The passion of their staff, both stateside and abroad, is infectious and there is a real commitment to bringing out stories that no one else is covering.
So it is disappointing to say that when the smoke clears in Egypt, or worse, when Americans simply become bored with the story, Al Jazeera will likely go back to its status as the exotic NPR. Loved and revered by Americans with a real taste for news and content but few others.
When it comes to news, the American viewing audience has the collective attention span of a 4-year-old in pixie stix. If Beyonce announced tomorrow that she was expecting twins, and wasn’t sure that Jay-Z was the daddy, the crisis in Egypt would be put on the back burner. First by one network, then two, until eventually the struggle of thousands of young men and women for democracy was reduced to a crawl on the bottom of the screen between stock prices and the latest bombastic quote from Sarah Palin.
BBC America has been available for years, is geared towards a U.S. audience and it still has not expanded beyond a niche audience and I fear that will be the fate of Al Jazeera. I don’t think the stateside consumer is mature enough to make a 24-hour international news station profitable enough for risk averse cable operators to buy in. So for now, enjoy the national fetishizing of Al Jazeera news, like it or not, we will be on to the next fad before the end of the month.