The tracks of my tears

We don't really do narrative analysis here–not because it's not worthwhile, quite the contrary, we're not equipped (and we're too lazy); for that, please visit the Daily Howler, Glenn Greenwald, and Digby.  I might borrow a few notions from them, however, in order to point out the completely strange way one columnist–Richard Cohen of the Washington Post–analyzes the results of Tuesday's New Hampshire Primary.  For Cohen (and many others, see the above links) the actions of Obama, Edwards, and Clinton can only be explained in a hypersexualized adolescent way:

Rick Lazio must have known what was coming. As Hillary Clinton's Senate opponent in 2000, he alarmingly strode across the stage during a debate and demanded that she sign a pledge to ban the use of soft money in their campaign. With every step, he lost more women's votes.

Now something similar has happened. I am not referring to the most famous cry since Evita's ("Don't Cry for Me, New Hampshire"), but to Barack Obama's patronizing dismissal of Clinton in the final debate of the New Hampshire campaign. After Clinton had good-naturedly responded to a question about what is sometimes called her "personality deficit" — "Well, that hurts my feelings" — she went on to concede that Obama is "very likable." Obama responded with a curt "You're likeable enough, Hillary."

Wince. Slap. A version of "nice personality" — the killer description of a girl from my high school days. It was an ugly moment that showed a side of Obama we had not seen and it might not have been characteristic. But it made for vivid TV, a High-Definition Truth, and probably more than a few women recoiled from it.

Obama could have remedied the situation — Lazio later recovered his standing with suburban women — but the Illinois senator continued to look disdainful on television and seemed to be acting for all the world as if his inauguration was a mere formality.

Was this the moment accounting for the gender gap that put Clinton over the top? Women, 57 percent of the New Hampshire electorate, went for her by 12 points. That was not the case in the Iowa caucuses, where she lost the female vote by five points. Something happened in New Hampshire, something that moved women. Obama would be a fool not to wonder where he had gone wrong.

You get the idea.  Notice that Cohen makes a couple of causal claims: Lazio lost women's votes because he approached Hillary on stage during a debate; Obama lost women's votes because he appeared to call Hillary unattractive.  Cohen, however, doesn't even bother to wonder whether these claims are true: he takes it that a change in the women's vote from one state to another must be accounted for by something that happened in the time between the two events.  That need not be the case at all.  Besides, Cohen hasn't done the minimal work necessary to establish that–nor has he shown or even referenced what might make the Lazio claim true.  More insulting–to all of us–is the idea that voters are motivated by the superficial crap that stirs the loins of pundit types like Cohen (and Chris Matthews, and the rest–again–see the other bloggers).  When I am sealed in the voting cubicle, I'm going to vote for the candidate I think will do the best job.  Until there is specific research showing otherwise, I think my fellow earthlings will be doing the same.

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