The Magnificent Pre-Election Blindness

You can judge the competence of a newspaper by the articles that its editors run.

Consider this article from The New York times. Here is the headline: Donald Trump and the G.O.P.: The Party of Lincoln, Reagan and, Perhaps, Extinction.

The date of this article: October 15.

The author: Declan Walsh. He is an Irishman who spent his career in Cairo and Pakistan. He was thrown out of Pakistan. So, the Times put him on the election beat. It wanted a foreigner’s views. It got them, good and hard.

You may have heard about the luck of the Irish. In his case, Walsh’s luck was bad. He wrote what I regard as the archetypal article that best reflects the pre-election arrogance of the mainstream media.

These were an arrogant bunch before November 8. Then they had their heads handed to them. Now all they have are declining audiences and falling revenues.

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Read this. Savor it.

Staunch in its opposition to the Democrats but rived by fierce internal schisms, the American political party stumbled toward defeat, its members cursing their fate. “We are slain,” cried Lewis D. Campbell, a representative from Ohio. “The party is dead, dead, dead!”That was the election of 1852, when the Whig Party, then one of the country’s two major political forces, began to crumble over bitter arguments about slavery. The Whigs would dissolve within four years, to be reborn as the Republican Party — the very party now engulfed by its own civil war.

As this year’s extraordinary election hurtles toward its climax, scores of Republican leaders have deserted their party’s presidential nominee, Donald J. Trump. A snowballing scandal over sexual harassment and assault allegations has caused Mr. Trump’s poll numbers to crater, and some of the party’s top donors have suggested abandoning him altogether. But a solid core of rank-and-file Republicans stands defiantly with Mr. Trump, flocking to increasingly raucous rallies where the candidate vents his rage toward and disdain for a party that, at least theoretically, still backs him.

The turmoil raises a bracing possibility: Is an American political behemoth — a 162-year-old party that has produced 18 presidents, including Abraham Lincoln, Dwight D. Eisenhower and Ronald Reagan — about to fall apart like its predecessor?

Answer: No.

Although Republicans have lost the past two presidential elections, they have had stunning success in congressional races and now enjoy their largest majority since 1928. That has given them considerable power to block laws, constrain President Obama and threaten government shutdowns.Republicans also control two-thirds of the 50 state legislatures, allowing them to shape laws on issues at the heart of America’s culture wars: guns, abortion and marijuana.

This should have alerted Mr. Walsh to a potential problem with his story. But it didn’t.

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