Stanley Fish has written a New York Times op-ed piece that's gladdening right-wing hearts:
In an unofficial but very formal poll taken in my freshman writing class the other day, George Bush beat John Kerry by a vote of 13 to 2 (14 to 2, if you count me). My students were not voting on the candidates' ideas. They were voting on the skill (or lack of skill) displayed in the presentation of those ideas.
The basis for their judgments was a side-by-side display in this newspaper on Sept. 8 of excerpts from speeches each man gave the previous day. Put aside whatever preferences you might have for either candidate's positions, I instructed; just tell me who does a better job of articulating his positions, and why.
Fish and his students at the University of Illinois have a point about John Kerry's indirectness and George W. Bush's directness. But it's interesting to read this back to back with a Web posting found by Ezra Klein at Pandagon; it's from the parent of a middle-schooler who just attended a meeting with the kid's teacher:
The teacher told of an exercise wherein he read from both the Bush and Kerry websites. He read where each of the candidates stood on the main issues of the campaign. He didn't say who was who...just "this is what candidate one says, this is what candidate two says".
The kids made tally marks about each thing they agreed with from each candidate.
Then the kids voted on the issues.
Four kids voted for Bush. 26 kids voted for Kerry.
You have to realize the significance of this. We live in Eden Prairie, MN....
...Eden Prairie has grown a crop of Bush/Cheney yard signs that rivals the corn crops of neighboring rural towns. This is Bush country, make no mistake about it....
...as illustrated by the fact that most of the kids who voted for John Kerry were greatly upset by it. They booed the results of their vote. They were upset that they had voted for the "wrong guy"....
It's discouraging, because it's obvious that Democratic ideas are winners, even if Democratic rhetoric falls flat.
But do you know what else is discouraging? Fish's article is in The New York Times -- and in all likelihood nothing about the Eden Prairie results will ever get similar wide exposure. If the "liberal media" really were liberal in the way that Fox and The Washington Times and the Murdoch press and talk radio are conservative, the Times and papers of a similar bent would commission articles and op-eds about Eden Prairie -- while Fish, well respected as he may be in liberal/left circles, would be told to take his op-ed to The Wall Street Journal or the New York Post.
I respect the attempt to be evenhanded -- but I resent it as long as it's not reciprocated.