For four years Fox has caricatured "the anointed one" as a a teleprompted, golf-loving, incompetent alien with no record or integrity... so how will they explain Obama's victory to incredulous viewers? Watch them finger three culprits -- viz., Luck, Sandy and The Media.
Here's the truth: The country faces a contest between two super-smart, disciplined, corruption-free, well-spoken, well-financed, well-educated organizers (door-to-door in France; the streets of the South Side of Chicago). They obviously differ in temperament and ideology -- a buttoned-down businessman embodying market capitalism vs. a cool urban intellectual embodying democratic capitalism. Ayn Rand vs. Abe Lincoln. That's a real choice.
But you wouldn't know it if you only watch the non-reality show called Fox Cable News. On Wednesday night, to take one example, I was interested to see how Hannity and O'Reilly would cover the $50 billion disaster of Hurricane Sandy and Governor Christie's tour with President Obama of hard-hit areas. The answer -- not at all. Zero. Sean led with a RNC tape promoting Romney, followed by "exclusive" reporting about a Watergate-level, 9/11-ish conspiracy to cover up American deaths in Benghazi that Obama all but caused. Bill opened with criticism of a MoveOn ad using foul-mouthed elderly condemning Romney's policies. Sandy who?
Thus, does the far (f)right night after night describe a black Manchurian candidate foisted on us by elites (that would be the cultural elite since the economic elite likes the other guy). So what will Fox talk show hosts say when their audience sees that Rev. Jeremiah Wright has been reelected president?
They certainly can't admit their secret formula -- an economic model that makes stuff up in a good vs. evil soap opera to boost ratings and revenues. They can't just say "ne-ver-mind" and move on to airing their 50th segment on those same three black panthers supposedly menacing a voting place in Philly. So who will get the blame for Fox's funhouse of mirrors, falsehoods, exaggerations and insinuations over the past four years?
Luck. Perfect! Anonymous, lacking metrics, can't speak for herself, literally irrefutable. Already Charles Krauthammer, the reliably nasty columnist/pundit who regards Obama as a fake and a fraud, called him Friday, perhaps anticipating Tuesday, "the luckiest politician I've ever seen."
If you're looking for a lucky politician, that would be George W. Bush, of the lucky sperm club, of a majority in Florida in 2000 due to some confused elderly Jews in West Palm Beach, and who eked out a win in Ohio and the Electoral College in 2004 after bin Laden's last election weekend taped diatribe (well, Obama made sure that he wouldn't do that again).
As for good fortune, It's true that in recent weeks we've seen Tea Partiers Todd Akin and Richard Mourdock inadvertently widen the gender gap, Netanyahu not attack Iran, Bloomberg surprisingly endorse the President, Obama earn bipartisan praise for his response to Sandy and enjoy a robust BLS jobs report Friday. All of these "breaks" reflect the definition of "luck" as being, in Branch Rickey's immortal phrase, "the residue of design."
Consider: Akin and Mourdock helped Democratic prospects because they, however clumsily, represented the prevailing view of the GOP; Obama effectively defanged Bibi pre-election due to shrewd diplomacy and our vote against Palestinian statehood in the UN; the President's views on climate change during a time of melting ice caps and record tornadoes, floods and fires are supported by a near unanimity of the scientific community and now by a grateful Mayor Bloomberg; his Keynesian pursuit of the stimulus and payroll tax cuts -- not just tax cuts for the super-rich which doesn't produce jobs, according to a Congressional Research Service study -- helped reduce unemployment from 10 percent in Bush's Great Recession to 7.9 percent. Not great, not luck, but better than any EU country pursuing austerity.
At a personal level, I understand from the 9/11 mayoral election how an unexpected, external event can alter plans and hopes. But when winners win, they get to serve. Alibis not permitted. You move on.
Sandy. Karl Rove referred to this as a real "October Surprise" when news coverage for three days did black out Romney's exertions and his (non-existent) momentum. But as Rove knows all too well from Katrina, emergencies can rally the country behind a president... except when they don't.
By appointing competent people to FEMA, by not returning such authority to the states or the "private sector" (as Romney vigorously advocated in a primary debate), by being on the right side of the issue of "government is the enemy until you need a friend" (Sen. Bill Cohen) rather than the "don't tread-on-me" crowd, the public saw a president who didn't have to be forced to watch videos of people stranded and screaming at the Superdome to respond.
Though there's no evidence yet, the cumulative impact from Sandy might well end up helping the president politically. But, if it does, he earned it. Bush didn't. Heck of a job, Barack.
Related to Sandy is Christie who did what governors do after calamities in, say, Joplin, Missouri or Aurora, Colorado. For the heresy of fulfilling the governor's oath of office, already Rupert Murdoch himself has darkly tweeted that Christie had better re-endorse Romney or... or what? Again, if Obama benefits from his 'bromance' with GOP keynoter Christie, perhaps it's because of a career of seeking to bring both sides together -- from his presidency of the Harvard Law Review, to his own famously conciliatory 2004 keynote address, to earlier efforts at working with congressional Republicans that earned him scorn until he shifted after the debt-ceiling fiasco.
In response, Romney was left to suddenly declare his desire to "unite the nation" in a new stump speech. This after spokeman John Sununu declared that Obama doesn't understand how to be an American.
The Media. This is of course the all-purpose go-to alibi, a QED that needs no evidence because of its talismanic powers, an aspirin to cure any Republican pain. Paul Ryan insisted last month said that it's "irrefutable" that there's a "liberal media bias." And over the decades see how Brent Bozell and imitators have made nice careers yelling at any media platform not agreeing with their rant of the week.
Beyond the utter conspiratorial view of Richard Hosftader's "paranoid mind" and the implication that there's one media behind the curtain doing all this, studies have shown no noticeable tilt in coverage this year. While reality-based, educated journalists are probably on average more left-of-center... it's also true that most media owners are on average white Republicans who favor the Romneys of their lives. In any event, Eric Alterman's What Liberal Media? still ranks as the definitive rebuttal of this tired and false refrain.
The fact is that most of "The" media are biased to facts, not candidates. To be blunt, has there ever been a nominee who's done more policy pirouettes thrown out more pants-on-fire declarations than Mitt Romney? Was it "liberal" or "reality based" when the centrist Washington Post editorial page Friday condemned his "contempt for the electorate [and] breathtaking ideological shifts," citing secrecy over bundlers and tax returns, dishonesty about Chrysler shipping Jeep jobs to China, numerically fake budget proposals and being for/against abortion, peace, assault weapons and more? It's ridiculous to blame the media mirror for Romney's epic deceptions and distortions.
(One argument Fox and their political friends can't make even with their usual straight faces: Romney wasn't conservative enough. He checked every Tea party/Koch box: huge tax cuts, severe spending cuts, Obama not us, guns, climate, abortion, use of force, military spending, Bork advising on the judiciary, Bolton advising on terrorism. Check, check, check. And if he moderated his tone at the end, he did so with the acquiescence of fellow-travelers eager to win.)
But when Obama wins, Fox won't lose. They'll blame others, move on to their next faux-rage and hold fast to their profitable ethic, as was said by the Magicians Association, that "all the public wants is fraud to believe in."