Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Swingin' A Dead Cat

If you like to do a bit of traveling, as our staff does, you tend to notice that most places around the world have their own quirky habits and sayings that make them unique. One of the more bizarre but catchy regional phrases we've picked up over the years is supposed to be used for those times when you're telling someone you feel like a certain object or experience seems to be everywhere you turn: That you "can't swing a dead cat without hitting (the subject in question)."

For example, "Mr. Romney delivered a foreign policy speech on Monday in which you couldn't swing a dead cat without hitting a lie."

As multiple journalists reported Monday, including our friend and colleague Rick Ungar, Mr. Romney's foreign policy speech on Monday was yet another vague stack of lies and reversals of his previous policy claims. It's true that some portions of Romney's speech tried to make his approach seem different than President Obama's; however, if you believed what Mitt was saying on Monday, you'd also have to believe that what he's said multiple times in the past about foreign policy was a lie.

For example, Mr. Romney insisted he'd increase the size of the U.S. Navy - except he has no idea of what kind of ships the Navy needs, or how he'd be able to pay for them. The best guess by expert military journalist Spencer Ackerman is that Romney's naval wish list would add $30-40 billion to a federal budget that Romney also promises to somehow cut.

That says nothing of Romney's trade claim that President Obama hasn't signed any trade agreements - well, other than the three President Obama signed last October with South Korea, Panama, and Columbia. Or Romney's claim to support a two-state solution between Palestinians and Israelis - a solution he derided in that infamous 47% video this summer, when he thought his words were being spoken in private.

As we said earlier, you couldn't swing a dead cat through Mitt Romney's foreign policy speech without hitting a lie.

There was one other topic you also couldn't swing the cat around without hitting on Monday - self-proclaimed polling experts determining that the race is now over for President Obama.

It's a day like Monday when we loathe the corporate media culture that's turned many of the folks we once trusted into self-aggrandizing ratings whores. Many of those who cherry picked the polls on Monday, are the same hacks who helped enable the jobs report conspiracy theory last Friday. Frankly, some in the mainstream media seem willing to set themselves on fire if it would get them the attention and ratings they crave. Cherry-picking poll results to get a rise out of the audience is child's play, compared to wearing fire or swinging a dead cat.

Here's the truth: Single polls do not matter, except the one on election day. Accurate polling looks at trends, as we've told you many times over the years. It's one of the reasons we put such faith in Nate Silver and his team at FiveThirtyEight.com. They get the final numbers right because they get the aggregated polling trends correct, over time.

So what was Nate's take on Monday's polls? Other than the Pew poll - which may indeed be an outlier - Nate pointedly noted Mr. Romney's polling on Monday was weak. In aggregate, Mitt would have made no real gains at all without that odd Pew poll. In fact, by Monday evening, tracking polls already showed a shift back towards Obama. Yet how many of those same ratings whores will be excitedly selling today's polling trend back towards Obama with the same vigor they tried to sell those horserace polls on Monday?

We bet by the end of today, you'll be able to swing around as many dead cats as you want, and not hit a single member of the mainstream media who apologizes for their poll hysteria yesterday.

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