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Many Insufficient Returns

By Joel Achenbach
Across the country, people are attending Election Results parties, at which they nibble on snacks and attempt, in vain, to decipher the graphics on CNN. I've dipped into one such event and can report that confusion is rampant both in the living room and on TV. The geniuses at CNN have designed some kind of Christmas tree graphic -- kind of clunky at Bill Schneider's fingertips -- that only the geniuses at CNN can comprehend.

Grasping the subtleties of the Results is particularly difficult when distracted by the snacks, the drinks, the gabbing hordes, the squawking kids, the random fulminations of the serious drinkers, and the bulletins from The Laptop People who perch on a couch in a row like a press corps.

Occasionally there's a report from some distant outpost in the house where apparently the TV isn't drowned out by festivities, to wit:

"Sophie says NBC is showing Ohio leaning strongly toward Obama."

True? And if so, significant?

This is that squishy period of the night when the numbers are so preliminary, the returns so early and eccentric, that in some states Bob Barr still seems to have a fighting chance. What hasn't happened yet: No Kerry state has gone for McCain and no Bush state has gone for Obama. Until then, we're just looking at numbers and graphics and armies of talking heads and wondering what it all means.

By Washington Post editors  |  November 4, 2008; 9:21 PM ET
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Who watches CNN? Might as well watch Fox. I watched MSNBC and was thoroughly satisfied with the projections, the calls, and the commentaries. I highly recommend them for your political viewing next time around.

For what it's worth, now that it's over and the fat lady's singing - I have to say that I think John McCain brought his defeat upon himself.

As I listened to his concession speech, which was very dignified and I think, sincere, I was reminded of the stark difference between tonight's speech and his stump speeches on the campaign trail.

McCain took the low road. He picked a running mate that complimented that mindset, and together they literally performed the most egregious character assassination against their opponent that I've seen in a presidential campaign.

If McCain had chosen a different running mate and had taken the high road in his campaign, I think he would have fared better than he did tonight. He still might not have won, but at least he would have not disgraced himself; at least he could have conceded with his honor and integrity still intact.

Palin brought out the worst in McCain, I think. What was probably considered a strategic move, i.e., nominating a woman for VP in an attempt to discredit Democrats as backwards and paternalistic, backfired in a huge way. If Palin was supposed to replace Hillary Clinton in the minds of voters, I can only say, "Sarah Palin, you're no Hillary Clinton." The differences between them could not have been more pronounced. That was a strategic mistake that may have cost McCain the election, although I still think that even with Palin, McCain could have had a better outcome if he had just had more integrity and engaged in policy, not personal, attacks on his opponent.

America has spoken, John McCain and Sarah Palin. We don't want your brand of fear and hatemongering; we don't want your brand of immaturity. We don't trust your judgement. We don't like the name-calling. That type of adolescent behavior is unfit and unbecoming a statesman or stateswoman.

So, I hope you two have learned your lesson. I hope you'll never resort to these kinds of unsavory tactics in your future candidacies - if there are any.

I believe in karma, and as such, I believe God has spoken.... He said, "You reap what you sow."

I hope you'll both reflect on that.

Posted by: kentuckywoman | November 5, 2008 1:26 AM | Report abuse

You're absolutely right. That graphic is utterly ridiculous.

Posted by: d-sax | November 4, 2008 9:25 PM | Report abuse

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