Barack Obama got his tenth win in a row in Wisconsin and is almost a shoe-in for the Democratic nominee. Though the rock star politician has virtually got a free pass from media scrutiny over the last six months, there has been a slew of articles taking swipes at him the last few days. Check ‘em out.
Paul Krugman, also of the Times, fearing he’d been too subtle in his criticism of Obama, went ballistic over the Illinois senator’s rhetoric. “I won’t try for fake evenhandedness here,” he wrote. The Obama campaign is “dangerously close to becoming a cult of personality.”
Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC TV’s “Hardball” who felt a “thrill going up his leg” during an Obama victory speech on Feb. 12, snapped out of it this week. When Texas State Senator Kirk Watson, an Obama supporter, looked as if he might describe his own thrill over the candidate, Matthews cut him off.
“Name some of his legislative accomplishments,” he demanded of a shell-shocked Watson, who was making his national TV debut. “Name any. What has he done, sir?”
Poor Watson. It’s fair to ask that question, but of him? Let’s hope his family wasn’t watching as he had the bad luck to be on the hot seat as the pendulum swung back, when hope and dreams dare not speak their names. It’s brass tacks, or the hook.
How is a 47-year-old novice going to unify highly polarized 70-something committee chairs? What will happen if the nation’s 261,000 lobbyists don’t see the light, even after the laying on of hands? Does The Changemaker have the guts to take on the special interests in his own party — the trial lawyers, the teachers’ unions, the AARP?
The Gang of 14 created bipartisan unity on judges, but Obama sat it out. Kennedy and McCain created a bipartisan deal on immigration. Obama opted out of the parts that displeased the unions. Sixty-eight senators supported a bipartisan deal on FISA. Obama voted no. And if he were president now, how would the High Deacon of Unity heal the breach that split the House last week?
The victims of O.C.S. struggle against Obama-myopia, or the inability to see beyond Election Day. But here’s the fascinating thing: They still like him. They know that most of his hope-mongering is vaporous. They know that he knows it’s vaporous.
Political candidates routinely indulge in exaggeration, pandering, inconsistency and self-serving obscuration. Clinton and McCain do. The reason for holding Obama to a higher standard is that it’s his standard and also his campaign’s central theme. He has run on the vague promise of “change,” but on issue after issue — immigration, the economy, global warming — he has offered boilerplate policies that evade the underlying causes of the stalemates. These issues remain contentious because they involve real conflicts or differences of opinion.
The contrast between his broad rhetoric and his narrow agenda is stark, and yet the media — preoccupied with the political “horse race” — have treated his invocation of “change” as a serious idea rather than a shallow campaign slogan. He seems to have hypnotized much of the media and the public with his eloquence and the symbolism of his life story. The result is a mass delusion that Obama is forthrightly engaging the nation’s major problems when, so far, he isn’t.
I’m nervous about the “O’Bambi” factor. Will the terrorists move in next door when Obama’s in the White House?
I’m nervous because Michelle Obama, about whom I just wrote a fawning puff piece, now says that until her husband’s stunning ascendancy, she’s never before been proud of America. Huh?
Barack now claims she didn’t mean it. Oh, yes she did. We all know the insufferable, holier-than-thou, Blame-America-First types who lecture the unwashed from the rarefied air of Cambridge and Brookline.
If I wanted lecturing, I’d be with Hillary.
I’m nervous because too many Obama-philes sound like Moonies, or Hare Krishnas, or the Hale-Bopp-Is-Coming-To-Get-Me nuts.
Perhaps in response to criticisms that have been building in recent days, Mr. Obama pivoted Tuesday from his usual incantations. He dropped the pretense of being a candidate of inspiring but undescribed “post-partisan” change. Until now, Mr. Obama has been making appeals to the center, saying, for example, that we are not red or blue states, but the United States. But in his Houston speech, he used the opportunity of 45 (long) minutes on national TV to advocate a distinctly non-centrist, even proudly left-wing, agenda. By doing so, he opened himself to new and damaging contrasts and lines of criticism.
Mr. McCain can now question Mr. Obama’s promise to change Washington by working across party lines. Mr. Obama hasn’t worked across party lines since coming to town. Was he a member of the “Gang of 14” that tried to find common ground between the parties on judicial nominations? Was Mr. Obama part of the bipartisan leadership that tackled other thorny issues like energy, immigration or terrorist surveillance legislation? No. Mr. Obama has been one of the most dependably partisan votes in the Senate.
McCain has also been in the news recently over some scandlous accusations.
A female lobbyist had been turning up with him at fund-raisers, visiting his offices and accompanying him on a client’s corporate jet. Convinced the relationship had become romantic, some of his top advisers intervened to protect the candidate from himself — instructing staff members to block the woman’s access, privately warning her away and repeatedly confronting him, several people involved in the campaign said on the condition of anonymity.
Turns out she is three decades his younger.
Will Republicans scrutinize McCain like they did Bill Clinton of yester-year? Probably not. Like this post, they are not fair and balanced.