September 15, 2008


Into the Obama Tank for the Final Push (Jennifer Rubin, 9/15/08, Real Clear Politics)

John McCain believes he is in an existential war. America is engaged in a death struggle against Islamic terrorists.

But he is also fighting for his life: against a media establishment dedicated to his political destruction.

Any pretense of fairness by the mainstream media is gone. The MSNBC duo of anchor buffoons have been downgraded but not fired. The Washington Post runs dueling front page articles — one a recycled tabloid-like piece (apologies to our tabloid friends who generally don’t recycle old material) about Cindy McCain’s past drug problems and one, made up out of whole cloth, that Sarah Palin’s allegedly believes and told departing troops that Iraq was behind 9-11. Caught concocting the latter story, the Post tried a hasty edit on the piece (in the middle of the night, no less) — a maneuver which bloggers quickly spotted. We saw the oozing condescension of normally mild-mannered Charlie Gibson in his Palin interview. Assuring Palin he was using a direct quote (he was not) to accuse her of believing her son was on “task form God” and laying a gotcha trap on the Bush Doctrine (which has no single meaning), Gibson seemed himself to have a “task” — to trip up a figure held in contempt by most of his colleagues. And of course we are treated to lengthy “investigative” pieces on Palin — which lack any factual support for their scandal-suggestive headlines. But still there is nary an investigative piece in any major newspaper on Barack Obama’s ties to the Chicago machine of Bill Daley, the mismanaged Annenberg Challenge, his relationship with Bill Ayers or the problematic donations from the Woods Fund.

That last sentence is why the Obama campaign hasn't even approached its nadir yet. Reporters, pundits, and politics inside the Beltway think that the Senator has successfully put the Reverend Wright issue behind him and explained his membership in a black nationalist church to people's satisfaction (though it's certainly notable that he proceeded to lose even Democratic primaries rather relentlessly).

But at the height of the hoopla only about half of the American people had even seen one of the sermons causing all the trouble. It was only the Democratic primaries and rather few folks were paying attention. When the videos resurface it will be a matter of first impression for a huge chunk of the electorate and he'll have to explain himself to the country, not just his party. Recall that Willie Horton was raised in the Democratic primaries, but came back to haunt Michael Dukakis in the Fall and that George W. Bush's service record became a big deal even when he was running for re-election. At least one of the next six weeks is likely to be dominated by the Wright story and it's a topic where Mr. Obama just can't win. Not only is the attention paid to it harmful but it will drown out whatever else he wants to be talking about. The media may prefer him to Sarah Palin, but it likes a big story most of all.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at September 15, 2008 11:04 AM
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