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During the past few weeks, thousands of reporters and commentators have produced countless stories feverishly speculating about who Barack Obama would pick to be his vice presidential nominee. “Obama Veep Speculation Reaches a Crescendo,” ran a headline in the Wall Street Journal. “Who’s No. 2? Obama Keeps Everybody Guessing,” said the Washington Post. “Speculation over VP picks hits fever pitch,” Reuters chimed in.
Of course, as Chris Lehmann pointed out in an interview here the other day, the obsessive interest in the VP picks, and the accompanying analysis about whether it would help or hinder Obama or McCain, was largely limited to Washington political reporters and cable-news producers. “Not only do reporters write about what they’re talking about, but they’re writing about each other,” Lehmann said. “Notice the passive construction in these stories about ‘rampant speculation’ and ask yourself, ‘Who’s doing the speculating?’ It’s the reporters who are; most voters, being sane people, might think about it for a second but then they move on to the next thing in their day.”
Now the Washington Post has published the results of a survey about the Biden “impact,” and it turns out there isn’t one. A full 75 percent of respondents said Biden’s selection would make “no difference” to their chances of supporting Obama this fall. Thirteen percent said it would make them more likely, ten percent said it would make them less likely, and two percent had no opinion on the matter.
So to sum it all up, impolitely: Despite the saturation news coverage and week after week of talking-head blather about the topic, the public just doesn’t give a shit.
More from Ken Silverstein:
Perspective — October 23, 2013, 8:00 am
How pro-oil Louisiana politicians have shaped American environmental policy
Postcard — October 16, 2013, 8:00 am
A trip to one of the properties at issue in Louisiana’s oil-pollution lawsuits
I recently spent a semester teaching writing at an elite liberal-arts college. At strategic points around the campus, in shades of yellow and green, banners displayed the following pair of texts. The first was attributed to the college’s founder, which dates it to the 1920s. The second was extracted from the latest version of the institution’s mission statement:
The paramount obligation of a college is to develop in its students the ability to think clearly and independently, and the ability to live confidently, courageously, and hopefully.
Let us take a moment to compare these texts. The first thing to observe about the older one is that it is a sentence. It expresses an idea by placing concepts in relation to one another within the kind of structure that we call a syntax. It is, moreover, highly wrought: a parallel structure underscored by repetition, five adverbs balanced two against three.
Percentage of Britons who cannot name the city that provides the setting for the musical Chicago:
An Australian entrepreneur was selling oysters raised in tanks laced with Viagra.
A naked man believed to be under the influence of LSD rammed his pickup truck into two police cars.
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“Shelby is waiting for something. He himself does not know what it is. When it comes he will either go back into the world from which he came, or sink out of sight in the morass of alcoholism or despair that has engulfed other vagrants.”