Okay, so the press loves Obama. When Howard Kurtz refers to the trip to the Middle East as Obamapalooza, he points out that the reporters who asked questions weren't miked at a press conference in Jordan. Only Obama was:
That may have been unintentional, but it underscored the degree to which Obama has controlled the message -- and, more important, the pictures -- during his exhaustively chronicled trek across the Middle East and Europe. Obama meeting the troops, meeting the generals, meeting prime ministers and kings, drawing a huge crowd in Berlin yesterday -- the images trump whatever journalists write and say ...
Beyond the images, most journalists and pundits have depicted the trip as an unalloyed triumph. "A slam-dunk success," in the words of Time's Joe Klein; "a real grand slam," as Salon Editor Joan Walsh put it on "Hardball."
... the tone of the coverage sometimes bordered on gushing ...
Hmm, ya think? This is what I and a helluva lot of other Hillary Clinton supporters have been complaining about all along. The press isn't treating the big O any different now than they treated him during the primaries.
Not everyone is drinking the Kool-Aid. Chicago Tribune columnist John Kass wrote of the coverage: "McCain is now cast as the crabby uncle who visits and shrieks there's no gin in your house," while Obama is "busy fighting off throngs of reporters, a cast of thousands as urgent and impassioned as in those old Hollywood biblical epics."
Ralph Begleiter, a former CNN correspondent who is now journalist in residence at the University of Delaware, says the notion that Obama was making real news -- as opposed to exploiting pretty backdrops -- is "a sham argument. Of course it's a photo op. If he wanted to go to Afghanistan as a senator, he could have done it."
As time goes on, I think more and more reporters are going to start taking that tack. But, according to Kurtz:
Some journalists defend the coverage as a matter of marketing: Obama is hot, McCain is not.
"The Obama phenomenon is so much the better story -- an obscure African American senator from Illinois, little known to most Americans two years ago, emerges as very probably the next president," says Terence Smith, a former correspondent for CBS and PBS. "That is a fantastic story. Of course it's going to get two or three times the space and attention and airtime of John McCain, who, while he may be a very appealing semi-maverick on his bus, is a much more conventional candidate."
The press seems to forget that it's not their job to tell us who's hot and who's not or to decide which candidate is more interesting.
Here's what Obama's trip was really all about. On Wednesday, the campaign bought $5 million worth in ad time during the Olympics. And what do you think we'll be seeing in those commericals? Maybe the cheering masses in Berlin. The Big O shaking hands with world leaders. Obama with Petraeus in the helicopter.
He doesn't come across to me as presidential. He comes across to me as a poser - he doesn't have the credentials so he substitutes photo ops instead. And he's still too damn smug! Six out of six former Hillary supporters surveyed by me despise him.
And get this - Obama already has a team working on the transition for when he becomes president. More than 3 months before the election. A little too sure of yourself there, Barry? Anyone else smell a whiff of deja-Mission Accomplished?
All this is going to turn around and bite Obama in the ass. Americans don't like to be told who to vote for. And the Republican machine excels at attacking the "mainstream media" and making themselves look like the victims. McCain is an expert at portraying himself as the heroic underdog who can prevail against all odds.
And this is how the Democrats will lose the election.