Pundits Begin to Worry About Obama
Over at Slate, Melinda Henneberger on the XX Factor blog was irate that Obama was "selling out on offshore drilling." And just as when he reneged on public campaign financing, his excuse was the worst part. Henneberger wrote:
"The Republicans and the oil companies have been really beating the drums on drilling," Obama said in the interview. Which might give voters the impression that anyone who beats the drums loud enough and long enough will get this same "Alright already!'' response out of him. And it might give those young voters he is counting on the idea that he's not only not as different as they thought...but maybe, just not different enough."
And then others chimed in. The New Republic editors worried that somehow Obama's economic message isn't working and Obama isn't making the most of his chances. They write:
"Yet, somehow, despite all this, McCain remains in the game. This is not easy to explain -- and it should cause a great deal of introspection at Obama headquarters. For all the many ways that the stars have aligned for Obama, he has yet to take full advantage of what historically has been a great opportunity."
The bottom line: liberal pundits -- following months of analysis by their conservative counterparts -- had figured out that despite the best possible terrain for the Democrats to recapture the White House, the Democrats (with a whole lot of cheerleading from the mainstream media) have chosen a thinly experienced, irresolute, underachieving and obnoxious standard bearer. And his excuse-mongering just makes it all the more irritating.
It is not clear what provoked the soul-searching or why reality didn't dawn on the pundits sooner. After all, they knew all along that he had virtually no experience and that he often sounded bizarrely confident about his nonexistent credentials.
Some might conclude that they were so blinded by their bias against Hillary Clinton and eagerness to shove the Clintons off the national stage that they ignored any signs that The Chosen One was deeply flawed. And, indeed, many of the faults that are potentially so dangerous in Obama -- his predilection to lie when the heat is on and his lack of core principles -- were even greater liabilities for Clinton in the media's eyes.
It is also true that the McCain camp has shamed the media into recognizing their infatuation with Obama. By mocking the press, the McCain camp has made the argument in convincing fashion that the mainstream media has been in the tank for Obama. The McCain camp's message: "Your boosterism has become painfully obvious." So it's not surprising that there might be some course correction and recognition that they've gone too far in building up The Ego and concealing his flaws.
But Obama has done his share to lift the veil from the pundits' eyes. Sometimes the accumulated evidence is too much even for the mainstream media to ignore. And it is ironic (but not altogether surprising) that the tipping point may have been the Berlin rally -- an explosion of ego and meaningless rhetoric which attained the level of self-parody.
Moreover, there is nothing that irritates the media more than a hypocrite. So the temptation is great to point out that the New Politics looks an awful lot like the Old Politics of flip-flopping, broken promises, lack of accountability, and fudging the facts.
It remains an open question whether the punditocracy has really begun a course correction in assessing Obama or is simply evidencing a mild bout of remorse for its own excesses.
But the question of whether Obama could forever retain his Teflon coating and stifle concerns about serious weaknesses in his record and character has been answered. The answer we have learned, from liberal pundits no less, is a resounding "no."