Commentary Magazine


Re: CNN’s Spin

Noah, your post regarding CNN’s poll versus CNN’s spin regarding that poll–spin that might just as well have been written before the poll was taken and, for all I know, was–reminds me of an incident from the last days of the Soviet Union.

When Yuri Andropov died in 1984, he was replaced as General Secretary by Konstantin Chernenko, who survived him by barely a year and was increasingly doddering throughout his short term. During that term there was an election for the Supreme Soviet, and Soviet television showed Chernenko arriving at a polling place on election day and being greeted by the man in charge.

The next day, Chernenko having been–surprise!–triumphantly re-elected, he was shown on television being congratulated on his victory by the man who had greeted him the previous day.

Nothing unusual about any of that, except for the fact that the man, Chernenko, and everyone else in the room were wearing the same clothes they had had on the day before.

Maybe all empires act alike in their death throes.