October 28, 2008

HERE'S ALL I KNOW ABOUT AN OBAMA VICTORY...:

Countdown to the Obama Rapture: Watch as the press corps battles its performance anxiety! (Jack Shafer, Oct. 27, 2008, Slate)

The windows of this mind-set are provided by Slate's Jacob Weisberg, for whom the Obama election is a national referendum on racism; the New York Times' Nicholas D. Kristof, for whom an Obama presidency is an opportunity to "rebrand" our nation and "find a path to restore America's global influence"; E.J. Dionne, who sees an Obama presidency as representing a chance to "rekindle the sense of possibility and transformation" in American life; and a swooning Andrew Sullivan, who almost a year ago speculated that Obama might be "that bridge to the 21st century that Bill Clinton told us about." For Chris Matthews, of course, the Obama candidacy is a "thrill" going up his leg, one that will arc over his torso and detonate his head in the event of a victory.

The leading Obama cheerleader among the commentariat is Newsweek's Jonathan Alter, whose "erection of the heart" for the candidate has no match. Alter sees the presidential election as a world referendum on the United States and "the common sense and decency of the American people." Obama symbolizes hope over fear, and his election would produce an "Obama Dividend" that would "blow the minds of people in the Middle East and other regions, and help restore American prestige." Obama, Alter continues, "knows how to think big, elevate the debate and transport the public to a new place."

Such overwriting leaves Alter little acreage upon which to build a monument if his candidate wins, but the problem isn't Alter's alone. Even political reporters who have scrubbed from their copy any evidence of Obama lust face the same Nov. 5 dilemma as the commentariat. How do you pack all the Obama touch points—healing, hope, change, civility, the second coming of Camelot, post-boomer politician, inspirer of youth, great uniter, world president, and so on—into one story without sounding hagiographic? Isn't that what the commemorative issue of People magazine is for? Then again, how do you write about Obama's victory without looping in the touch points? Hence the performance anxiety.


...if there aren't three ponies in our driveway on November 5th, he's gonna have to answer to my kids....

Posted by Orrin Judd at October 28, 2008 7:51 AM
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