Now that the pundits' vaporings are subsiding, it is clear that in the late election the Democrats won, the Republicans won and the media commentators, specifically TV's blabbermouths, lost. These are now the three main parties in American politics, and in this election the laurels went to the worthiest and the most truthful.
Though they did not do as well as some had expected, especially in the Senate, the Democrats won because they did better than the out party usually does in off-year elections. The Republicans won because the recession and its attendant morbid commentary dictated that they lose significantly more seats in the House and the Senate than they lost.
Of course these are paltry victories, and very little champagne is called for. The Republicans ran a dreadful campaign, timorous and unintelligible. Most were emulating the 1920 front- porch campaign of the late Warren Gamaliel Harding. Only they surpassed him; they hid under the porch. Some are still down there. Those that have crawled out are now making cow eyes to the Democrats. The commonweal would be better served if they stayed under the porch. Turn the place into a first-rate country club dining hall and beam in plenty of Muzak to go with the meat and potatoes. These Republicans would love it.
To embrace the Democrats is to gargle arsenic. The voters might indeed have signified their displeasure with the results of the Reagan policies last week; but, far more ominous, they signified their rejection of Democratic policies. By a 5-4 margin voters leaving polling places informed the New York Times-CBS News Poll that they blamed past Democratic policies for our present economic condition, and as the Democrats so eloquently hollered during the campaign they have no other policies.
Now Republican Talleyrands like the Hon. Robert Dole and the Hon. Howard Baker want to adopt those policies. It is not fruitful to analyze their reasoning. Let us turn to the losing party, the media party.
They are as much a part of our political scene as the Democrats and the Republicans. What is more, they are rigorously ideological. Their party headquarters are the three major networks' studios. There they assemble in baleful agreement, popping off with weisenheimer rebukes to the Democratic and Republican candidates.
They never enlighten us as to what they would do in office aside from exhorting the citizenry to panic. But they have obvious vested interests on election night. Well, last Tuesday night they lost. There was no revolt of the masses sweeping the Republicans out of office. There were no coups, no mysterious poisonings, no Reichstag fires. Late into the evening, though all was well in the countryside, they scowled and yelped. Dan Rather was especially wild. Still, nothing very exciting happened.
Why do the TV commentators act so grotesquely? To be sure they do it to sell soap. Then, too, they do it to indulge the little boy that dwells within all those who do not host a little girl. More to the point most do it because their knowledge of politics is not vast.
In most fields an expert has some expertise, but the TV commentator has mainly animal attributes: a pleasant appearance, a mellow bark. None has ever written a creditable book or essay on politics, and few have tried, though it is through such publications that journalists and students of politics prove their mettle. Evidence of the lack of expertise comes in the newspaper reviews of their performances, all of which dwell on the style, organization, and electronic aspects of the network news performances: "Rather was smooth and commanding. The graphics were beautiful." "Reynolds was stuffy." "David looked tired." Enough!
All these garrulous people have to do is give us the election returns, and that really could be better handled by reports on the half-hour. Thus viewers would be spared the humorless and petty second-guessing, the cheap sermons, the language that is as elementary as that found in any remedial reading text, and the overall infantilism: asking one another questions whose answers everyone in the universe knows, indulging in melodrama and hysteria, abusing guests, eagerly acceding to the atmosphere of mutual agreement that makes their performances so insipid. No one ever speaks out to say, "Tom, that's claptrap"?
I doubt that there is a second-rate professor of political science in any cow college in America as lacking in political knowledge as these dullards. True, I, too, snicker at the pols, but when I hear these vacuous TV commentators deriding and second-guessing them, I side with the pols, some of whom can put their thoughts down in a readable fashion. In fact, Richard Nixon's new book, "Leaders," is quite good. Let Dan Rather mull that one over..