Wednesday, July 30, 2008

First pass.

Have you noticed how testy some in the media are getting about Barack Obama? The group that was once ready to anoint him now has its claws out. Two columnists provide bitter and petty examples: Maureen Dowd in the New York Times and Dana Milbank in the Washington Post.

Maureen Dowd’s contempt for the presumptive Democratic nominee seeps through her sentences like syrupy poison: when Obama told her that he didn’t know the protocol for giving gifts to world leaders outside of state visits, she said “he could be forgiven for not knowing the customs of a trip that had never taken place before — a mere presumptive nominee of one party being feted like a president.” When he told her that on his stops someone makes sure to buy a snow globe for one of his daughters and a keychain for the other, she writes, “‘You have a snow globe aide?’ I marveled.” You can almost see Ms. Dowd curled up on her cushion like a self-satisfied cat, lapping up her sour milk with her acid tongue.

Mr. Milbank writes equally as if Obama had asked someone other than him to the prom. In his column he gripes that Obama has already elected himself president, and one can easily envision the petulant moue of his lips as he observes that Obama is outdoing the current president in “ruffles and flourishes” when his motorcade is larger than Bush’s and he meets with the Pakistani prime minister while “Bush held quiet signing ceremonies in the White House.” What a picture of our self-effacing current leader; riding alone with Laura in a Buick, or benevolently signing God-knows-what sort of destructive legislation into law while the Democratic nominee tries to build the kind of relationships that he would need to be able to draw on if he were elected president. Why is it presumptuous for Obama to act as if he will be elected (when he is, after all, one of only two candidates) and that some good can be had from setting the stage for when he is? That just sounds like good planning to me.

I don’t understand the press’ need to build up people seemingly for the sole aim of having someone to tear down. What drives this constant back-and-forth? Are journalists trying to prove their relevance by telling politicians that they helped enable the climb, and they can just as quickly yank them back down the ladder? Or do they simply imagine that they are so much more clever than the rest of us that they can say anything and America will buy it? In trying to seem so big, they sound very small.

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