The New York Times saw grim tidings for Democrats in the congressional elections, but over the weekend, one could spot the paper subtly separating President Barack Obama from the travails of his party, which come Tuesday may lose its hold on the U.S. Senate and is all but guaranteed to have its House minority shrink further. And one headline should make the Hall of Fame for wishful thinking on the part of the liberal media.
First, there was pro-Democratic reporter Jackie Calmes' mildly hopeful report on Saturday, "Democrats Count on Edge With Women to Limit Election Losses." Perhaps protesting too much, Calmes provided a Democratic rebuttal to Republican claims that "Democrats miscalculated in their zeal to galvanize women":
Democrats counter that Republicans use the phrase 'Republicans' war on women' more than Democrats to stoke a backlash among older and married women who reject partisan, feminist-sounding rhetoric and lean Republican.
But the Times has eagerly spread that same anti-GOP 'War on Women" smear. Times reporter Jodi Kantor, appearing on MSNBC's Now With Alex Wagner on April 24, 2012, responded to news that Florida Gov. Rick Scott was stopping aid to rape crisis centers with "...it sort of seems like a Democratic strategist's dream, right? Like they were sitting in a room with a chalkboard and said, 'What scenario could we concoct to prove that there really is a Republican war against women?'"
But the weekend's truly ridiculous bias came in the Sunday Review section. An analysis by Nate Cohn suggested that even if the Republicans win all the toss-up Senate seats, it will spell doom for the party's presidential prospects in 2016. The print edition headline, "Why a Win This Year Won't Help the G.O.P.," was worthy enough of an eye-roll, while the original online headline was almost a parody of pro-Democratic bias: "Why 2014 Is Actually Shaping Up As a Bad GOP Year."
The Republicans are looking forward to having a good week. They are favored to win the Senate, and they could pick up enough House seats to finish with their largest margin since 1928.
But perhaps more important to the party’s long-term prospects than Tuesday’s results is what unfolds in the presidential battleground states. If the night ends with tight races in Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado and Georgia, as the polls suggest, then the results will not be as great for Republicans as many analysts will surely proclaim.
Even if the Republicans win these states, which would all but ensure Senate control, it will probably be mostly because of low midterm turnout among Democratic-leaning young and nonwhite voters. The implication would be that Republican Senate candidates did not win many voters who supported President Obama in 2012. And it would suggest that Republicans have made little progress in attracting voters they would need to take back the White House.
... the pattern is a reminder of how difficult it will be for Republicans to overcome the demographic and generational changes that have marginalized their traditional coalition in presidential elections. Republicans fare poorly among every large demographic group that is a growing share of the electorate, including Latinos, Asian-Americans and young adults.
In Sunday's news section, Julie Hirschfeld Davis followed Obama to a rally in Detroit and under a soft headline downplayed the president's drag on the Democratic ticket while separating him from his party's troubles: "Wistful but Having Fun, Obama Gives Last Push."
The giant white letters spelling V-O-T-E were already hoisted and the audience was on its feet in the gold-and-green-painted gymnasium as Gary Peters, the Democratic candidate for Senate, roused the room for President Obama.
“A man who in our time of troubles, when we were hanging on the edge,” Mr. Peters said, “stood up and stood with us.”
Chants of “Obama! Obama!” rang out Saturday evening as the president bounded to the stage in front of the crowd of about 6,000 at Wayne State University, his blue shirt sleeves rolled above the elbows, and pumped his fist. “We’ve got folks fired up! We’ve got folks ready to go!”
The campaign cheer born during his first presidential run worked here, as Mr. Obama traveled the country on a final get-out-the-vote push ahead of the last election that will make a difference to his presidency.
But with Democrats battling on politically challenging terrain to keep their Senate majority, it has not been heard very much this year. Mr. Obama has been relegated to a sharply constrained campaign schedule through deep-blue pockets of the country, where his rallies are as much about framing his legacy as about electing Democrats.
Still, the president is savoring the ride, even if his boisterous campaign cadence occasionally gives way to a twinge of nostalgia.
Davis uncritically portrayed a president blissfully disconnected from pressing national issues, Democratic prospects, or anything else of import besides his own sense of self-gratification:
Back in his limousine on the way to a nighttime flight to his next stop, Mr. Obama caught his breath, turned to an aide and said with a grin: “That was fun.”
A Sunday front-page headline pivoted quickly from a "shift" (i.e. Democratic loss) to an uplifting note for the Obama presidency: "Braced for a Shift in Congress, Obama Is Setting a New Agenda." The lead sentence didn't cast any blame toward the president for his party's poor prospects, citing only Obama being passively "whipsawed by events."
Whipsawed by events and facing another midterm electoral defeat, President Obama has directed his team to forge a policy agenda to regain momentum for his final two years in office even as some advisers urge that he rethink the way he governs.
The most pungent criticism reporters Peter Baker and Michael Shear could muster was that "Even some of his strongest supporters are quietly recommending changes in his staff and a more open decision-making process."
To be fair, Jonathan Martin's Sunday lead story, "Both Parties See Campaign Tilting to Republicans," was balanced.
My colleague Tim Graham has already addressed Mark Leibovich's sneering "The Bumpkinification of the Midterm Elections," appearing in the Times' weekend magazine, that mocks Sarah Palin as "the starkest example yet of a proud unsophisticate taking the national stage." Leibovich, whose personality profiles for the Times inevitably tilted in favor of his Democratic subjects, also claimed that conservative senators Ted Cruz and Rand Paul have "no background in legislating or have shown no interest in it."