Friday, February 01, 2008

Oh Dear Oh Dear Obama

MoveOn members, by a 70-30% margin, have endorsed Barack Obama for the Democratic presidential nomination, as has the Los Angeles Times. Says the LA Times:
The U.S. senator from Illinois distinguishes himself as an inspiring leader who cuts through typical internecine campaign bickering and appeals to Americans long weary of divisive and destructive politics.

But wait. How does endorsing Obama over Clinton provide relief from divisive politics? It doesn't. Please look here, and here, and here, and here.

The LA Times' endorsement of Obama seems to rest entirely on two bases: Clinton's benighted, regrettable, but not entirely unforgiveable vote to authorize the 2003 invasion of Iraq, and Obama's unfamiliarity. The endorsement concludes:
An Obama presidency would present, as a distinctly American face, a man of African descent, born in the nation's youngest state, with a childhood spent partly in Asia, among Muslims. No public relations campaign could do more than Obama's mere presence in the White House to defuse anti-American passion around the world, nor could any political experience surpass Obama's life story in preparing a president to understand the American character. His candidacy offers Democrats the best hope of leading America into the future, and gives Californians the opportunity to cast their most exciting and consequential ballot in a generation.

In the language of metaphor, Clinton is an essay, solid and reasoned; Obama is a poem, lyric and filled with possibility. Clinton would be a valuable and competent executive, but Obama matches her in substance and adds something that the nation has been missing far too long -- a sense of aspiration.

Those are pretty shallow and disturbing reasons to endorse a candidate. Does the LA Times really think that what we need to "defuse anti-American passion around the world" is a good PR campaign? And how can Obama's interesting but highly unusual biography either substitute for depth of experience or put him in touch with "the American character," whatever that is, if it exists, of which I am highly dubious. It is at best irresponsible of the LA Times to urge us to choose a candidate based on how "exciting" it will be to vote for him. (I can't help thinking this "excitement" also led to the overwhelming MoveOn vote.) I will support Obama if he wins the Democratic nomination, but the careless assumption that he differs from Hillary Clinton only in style obscures real differences in their positions--Obama opposes universal health care, for example.

The LA Times endorsement is just a small part of the very worrisome media handling of the 2008 campaigns. The mainstream media are treating Obama very gently these days, usually at the expense of Hillary (and, lately, Bill) Clinton. The depiction of Obama as exciting while Clinton is dull is not a perception of reality, it's media spin calculated to get Obama the democratic nomination.

Why are the MSM greasing the skids for Obama? Because, in a year when it looked like the presidency was a lost cause for the Republicans, the Money thinks maybe Obama can be beaten. Even by John McCain, not so long ago the most loathsome man in America. Once Obama has the nomination, the corporate media (who served him up) will eat him alive. He is not, of course, the chosen candidate of the corporate Money--he is the candidate that Money thinks it can beat. Lulled into a false sense that the media love him, he has no idea how to handle the evil slagging press that has been a part of Hillary Clinton's daily life for decades. I'm afraid he will disappear beneath waves of ridicule and scandal in a landslide (underlain by the oozing mud of vile racism at the local level) that will make McGovern and Mondale look like winners.
I hope I'm wrong.


LumpenProf said...

I hope you are wrong too. And with some good news today, I think you are. Polls today are showing that Obama leads McCain 45-43, while Clinton loses to McCain 45-41. Plus, even if you're right that Obama is the candidate that Money thinks they can beat, then that makes Clinton the candidate that Money would prefer to win. And wouldn't you rather go down swinging than give up right from the start?

KC said...

Hmmm. I'd like to be encouraged, but if I'm right then Obama's lead over McCain in the polls would be a function of the current media benevolence toward him.

libhom said...

Clinton would lose so much of the vote on the left to the Greens. Her husband almost single-handedly transformed the American Green Party into the largest third party.

That is the biggest obstacle to her being electable.