April 11, 2010

Bitter AP Report’s Absurd Contention: Stupak Was ‘Absolutely’ Certain to Be Reelected

StupakAndWife0410Associated Press writer John Flesher is one bitter guy.

Flesher, along with whoever (possibly Flesher himself) came up with the headline for his Saturday report on Bart Stupak’s decision not to run for re-election in Michigan’s 1st Congressional District, tells readers that:

  • Tea Partiers are poor winners.
  • The residents of Stupak’s district are federal money-grubbers who can be fooled by candidates holding the right position on “hot-button issues.”
  • Based on a poli sci prof’s contention, Stupak (pictured at top right with his wife in an AP photo) would “absolutely” have won as all the evidence he needed to “prove” the nine-term congressman’s re-electability.

Here are the opening paragraphs from the flailing Flesher:

APonStupakWithdrawal041109at6PM

If Flesher really thinks that Tea Partiers are gloating, he is dreadfully out of touch. The sentiment is more like, “One down, hundreds to go.”

As a later paragraph notes, Stupak did not stay on the right side of the abortion issue in his supposed health care “compromise.” What Flesher doesn’t flesh out is that a betrayal of this nature on what is clearly a “hot-button” issue with so many 1st District voters would properly be characterized as a game-changer, and effectively threw the race wide open.

As to the receptivity of 1st District residents to federal largesse, two thoughts:

  1. It’s one thing to be open to it when the government isn’t hemorrhaging over $1 trillion per year as far as the eye can see; it’s quite another matter given the federal fiscal decay of the past 18 months or so.
  2. Perhaps the only ones who ever liked the largesse were its direct recipients. It’s quite possible that 1st District voters either didn’t pay close enough attention, thought the amounts involved relatively minor, or were okay with it as long as Stupak remained pro-life (which effective on March 20, he ceased being).

As to Stupak’s supposedly certain re-electability, the Cook Political Report mostly agrees, but makes two observations (bolded) that arguably throw that supposed certainty totally out the window (link goes to first three paragraphs currently at the site’s home page; additional access requires paid subscription):

Without Stupak on the ballot, however, expect a free-for-all. This geographically huge district is as politically mixed as they come. In fact, no district voted more narrowly for President Obama in 2008. Here, deep roots in the community matter more than party affiliation. When Stupak (who is from Menominee on the Upper Peninsula) first won this seat in 1992, 54 percent of 1st CD residents lived on the Upper Peninsula. Due to population loss and redistricting, 53 percent of residents now live south of the Mackinac Bridge. Prior to Stupak’s election, Republicans had held this seat since 1966.

Since Stupak’s name will be forever associated with Barack Obama’s, Nancy Pelosi’s, and Harry Reid’s statist health care leglislation, the fact that Obama barely carried the district became extremely relevant on March 20, and likely obliterated whatever value the “deep roots” factor might have had, at least in the upcoming election. Though the southward population shift Cook cited might negate it a bit, the fact that the district had a Republican congressman for a quarter of a century before Stupak’s first general election victory in 1992 is more than a little useful to know. Flesher’s omission of that point gives away his agenda.

Also missed by Flesher is the fact that many in the 1st District had already begun to turn on him as a result of a videotaped statement he made last year in Cheboygan (at roughly the 1:10 mark of the video):

Stupak: I don’t want to see abortion in there, and I’ve to get a chance to vote on that somewhere along in this process. But that doesn’t mean, and if I lose that vote, that doesn’t mean I vote against the whole bill then.

Questioner: It doesn’t.

Stupak: No. (part of the audience boos)

Stupak unequivocally repeated and restated his position later in the video. The crowd reaction was clearly negative. It would be hopelessly naive to consider this episode irrelevant. To ignore this incident in a report about Stupak’s district and his political standing a reelection bid is journalistically negligent.

What is absolutely true is that John Flesher and his supposedly quoteworthy pal David Carlson are pushing against a tide of truths pointing in the opposite direction.

Absolutely, schmabsolutely.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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