On Wednesday night at Yeshiva University in midtown, veteran political journalist Ron Brownstein politely listened to a woman in the audience vent about what she saw as the media’s bias against Hillary Clinton during the Q&A session of a discussion about his new book, The Second Civil War.
Then he answered her.
“I think if Obama would have lost 10 elections in a row, there would be a chorus from the media for him to drop out,” Brownstein said the day after Clinton continued her 0-for. “But you don’t see that with Clinton. They respect her political prowess. They are giving her one more bite at the apple.”
During his hour-long presentation, he had a number of other memorable lines on the candidates and the media.
On why Rudy Giuliani didn’t do well:
“It turns out you have to like to talk to people to run for president.”
On the CNN political coverage team:
“They have so many people on stage that they could field a softball team.”
On Fox News:
“It’s a hybrid of a news channel and an advocacy group.”
On the Democratic side, Brownstein used a simple metaphor to analyze the race. According to Brownstein, the Democratic nomination in recent memory has come down to “beer” candidates, who attract blue collar, senior citizen and minority voters, and the “wine” candidates, who attract college-educated, young and affluent voters. And the beer candidate has always won: Mondale over Hart, Clinton over Tsongas, Gore over Bradley, Kerry over Dean.
But Brownstein said this time it could be different because Obama (wine) has attracted black voters by such a wide margin that he’s built a new Democratic coalition. He also said that while Clinton has tried to attract college-educated women from the wine crowd, she hasn’t done it consistently or by such wide margins, and that’s the major difference.
“It’s a huge change to the beer track,” Brownstein said. “What Obama has done is move one large group of the Democratic ledger to the other side.”
In Brownstein’s eyes, that made the results of Tuesday’s Wisconsin primary all the more depressing for Clinton, who lost by 17 percentage points in a state where the demographics looked good for her – exit polls showed 51 percent of the voters were over the age of 50 and college grads only made up 42 percent of the electorate.
“Wisconsin was a jump-ball and she got walloped,” Brownstein said.