There aren't many heroic role models these days for people who write or comment on politics. The yahoos on TV are a daily embarrassment, the columnists in The New York Times' stable have each chosen sides and write one pep-rally piece after another in defense of their chosen candidate, either Hillary Clinton or Barack Obama.
Most of the news coverage, if it isn't about inside-baseball politicking, focuses on insubstantial issues. Debate moderators have morphed into circus ringleaders. Even on what used to be the sober "Meet the Press," Tim Russert on Sunday botched a question about Obama's alleged lack of showy patriotism by stating the senator did not put his hand over his heart during the Pledge of Allegiance.
That particular issue, such as it is, concerns not the Pledge but the National Anthem. And why doesn't someone such as Russert simply ask the question to viewers: How many people can you count in a baseball stadium who place their hands over their heart during the Star-Spangled Banner? Fact is, it just isn't part of the traditional ritual. The Pledge, yes. The Anthem, no.
I've grown to expect such shoddy performances from nearly all the national political media. But I've always felt there was one hero who could be counted on not to succumb to spin and silliness: David Broder of the Washington Post.
Broder is a personal hero. I cherish the memory of having given him a ride back to his downtown hotel from a John McCain rally on the CSU Sacramento campus in 2000. He is sober, studious, hard-working, civil and blessed with a grandfatherly sort of wisdom and gentility.
But in today's column, Broder referred to Obama's defeat in the Pennsylvania Democratic primary as a "relatively narrow" loss.
It shows that, alas, even David Broder can be influenced by spin.
The plain fact is that in any political campaign in America -- be it for Congress or mayor or a ballot proposition -- a 9.2 percentage point margin of victory constitutes a landslide.