Policy vs. Character

POLICY vs. CHARACTER….Jon Chait has an interesting piece in The New Republic today. Ostensibly it’s about flip-flopping (bottom line: Kerry does it less than you think, Bush does it more), but about halfway through he switches to media criticism:

One of the curiosities of political journalism is that reporters tend to be assiduously even-handed about matters of policy (which can revolve around disputes over objective fact) but ruthlessly judgmental on questions of character (which are inherently subjective). In fact, most reporters don’t know or care much about policy. They see politics primarily through the lens of the candidates’ personal traits.

Now, this is hardly an original observation ? in fact, it’s downright pedestrian to anyone who reads Somerby regularly ? but Chait does a good job of teasing it out and explaining how an increasing fixation on “character” has made political life almost impossible for moderates from either party ? but especially for Democrats. It’s worth a read.