Because it was written in 2006, it has a certain clarity to it that is worth close consideration.
Normally, forthcoming elections, especially presidential contests, cause a fraction of the public to pay closer than normal attention. So election season is normally Attention Season (2008 election). This is why Republicans tend to increase their support in generic polls about political preferences as elections approach. If one looked at off—year polling about party preferences, one would expect Congress to be in the hands of Democrats. But as political advertising reaches its peak prior to election day, Republicans tend to gain support, as a critical fraction makes up its mind at the last minute and pays attention to political arguments.Are people paying attention? I think so.
But Attention Season is not limited to election years. A crisis, such as 9/11, can focus Americans even in an off year. Nevertheless, Attention Season is a fleeting moment. Unless there is a special reason, most Americans do not really want to pay much attention to politics. They have far more important matters to attend to: their own lives. Outside a small percentage of political junkies in the populace, mostly those committed to one or another political viewpoint, most Americans perceive only headlines, sound bytes, images, and vague impressions of politicians, parties and issues.
It (the 2006 election) is Inattention Season, and that is normal American politics.
The default mode of Inattention Season strongly favors the Democrats. The overwhelmingly liberal media exercise their power in both blatant and subtle ways to convey a warm and fuzzy impression of Democrats. Photo editors at daily newspapers play a key role, selecting scowling pictures of Republicans and smiling pictures of Democrats, for instance. All of the television news outlets except Fox look for sound bites and visuals to reinforce a positive impression of Democrats whenever possible, and portray Republicans as mean, bigoted, white, male, awkward and stupid.