For the press corps, it's now St. McCain vs. that strange guy
McCain and his fanboys in the press want us to get to know how strange and scary Barack Obama is
Chris Matthews is a whack-job. He is. But, like all millionaire pundits, he knows the feelings and perceptions of "the little guy". He's been shilling for Obama as long as he was being challenged in the primaries by Vile Hillary. But now Obama is a strange guy who doesn't connect with the regular folks that Chris knows so well (from Morning Joe 06/04/08); if the video doesn't show here, check the link at Media Matters:
I guess Chris is no longer getting that thrill he said used to run up his leg when he heard Obama speak, huh? Now that he's not the anti-Hillary, things are different.
Digby reminds us why we need to be cautious even when the mainstream media are taking "our side" in With Friends Like These Hullabaloo blog 06/05/08. The kind of dysfunctionality they have going will wind up hurting Democrats and progressive causes much more often than not.
David Brooks is usually a pretty good belweather for GOP-friendly media scripts. And in Obama's Victory, Clinton's Endgame Cap Primaries PBS Newshour 06/04/08, he was pimping the "Obama is strange" line hard. After, of course, holding forth on how vile and awful Hillary Clinton is. But on Obama he said:
[BROOKS]: And you look at that speech, and you look at that crowd, and you think, "This guy is going to win 110 percent of the electorate."
But we've been through this story. He gives this speech. He does arouse this kind of response among certain people. But if you look at the national polls, he's tied with McCain.
If you look at the way independent voters look at him, in late February, 62 percent of independent voters had a favorable opinion of him. Now he's down to 49 percent. He's running way behind his party at the moment.
He'll probably pick up now that he's got this glow of victory, but he's not a candidate, considering where his party is versus the Republican Party, he's not a candidate rolling through the fall with a big burst of wind.
JUDY WOODRUFF: How do you explain that? I mean, as you say, this is what we've been looking at through much of the primary season. How do you explain it?
DAVID BROOKS: Well, I think a lot of people don't know who he is. First of all, he's pretty liberal. We haven't had too many really, pretty orthodox liberal Democratic candidates, really, going back to the New Deal. That's something.
But the second thing is people don't know him. And it's astonishing how little they know him and McCain.
Mark and I have been busy offering wisdom now for six months. But when you ask people, "Who is Barack Obama?" They think, "Well, he's a guy who goes to a church, and he's a Muslim."
They just don't know much about him. And he's really got to lay out, again, who he is and his life story. And when people hear about the life story, it's not something they can easily connect to themselves.
And so as we move to a new fall campaign, we're moving to go a new electorate. These people have not been paying attention as much as we think. (my emphasis)
Obama's background is something that most Americans can't "easily connect to themselves," the great pundit explained. Notice how his observation here is similar to Chris Matthews', and both of them were vague about what it means.
It reminds me of some comic strip, I think it may have been Berkeley Breathed, when Jesse Jackson made his run for President in 1984, that needled liberals by having one character saying, "There's something about Jesse ..."
This pitch and/or pundit script plays to institutional racism, as well as the more personal and explicit kind. Because white Americans are widely unfamiliar with the daily lives and group consciousness of African-Americans, it creates an opening for the Republicans to push the line that Obama is some exotic radical. This was the notion on which the Republicans concentrated so hard with Dukakis in 1988. They did it with Clinton in 1992 also, and big-time, but they also combined it with the "flip-flopper" charge. The "flip-flop" meme so far has not been prominent in Republican and media characterizations of Obama.
How many people did David Brooks talk to who actually said, "Well, he's a guy who goes to a church, and he's a Muslim"? That sounds pretty shaky to me. But Brooks is tossing it out there as something widespread enough to be somewhat acceptable.
And he went on to make sure that he got the notion of Obama being a suspiciously devout liberal out there:
But the fall race will be a pretty straight left-right race. People will be offering different versions of change, but one will be clearly liberal and one more clearly conservative.
And I think it will -- a lot of those people, not necessarily all of them, but a lot of those people who are Democrats -- I think that's not the key constituency here. People who voted in this primary process are Democrats.
It's the independents out there who he's begun to lose. And that's a more difficult issue. He really has to show he's not an orthodox liberal, I think, the way McCain has shown he's not an orthodox conservative. And he hasn't even taken a step in that direction yet.
Got that? McCain the loyal Bush hardliner is a "maverick" whose shown his independence of conservatives. Obama, who's run as a unifier and has worried his own party's base by echoing Republican charges that Democrats paid insufficient attention to "people of faith" and even their phony scare charge about Social Security going bankrupt, he looks like "an orthodox liberal".
I noticed in McCain's speech Tuesday night, he chuckled as he delivered the line, "But the American people didn't get to know me yesterday, as they are just getting to know Senator Obama." What might the Republicans be working on to help us get to know Obama? Tom Hayden has caught wind of some dirt to be slung in the not distant future (Clinton in Denial of Obama Nomination. Why?Huffington Post 06/04/08):
The latest tapes about the Chicago priest are a case in point. More is coming on the alleged statements and writings of Michelle Obama. Claims of connections to the Palestinians are in the wings.
Hayden, by the way, is a supporter of a group called Progressive for Obama (link is to a blog by that name).