If you want to understand the Silly Season politics of the Obama campaign, all the binders of women, the bayonets and horses and the star of an HBO series cutting an ad for Obama, then you need to understand that much of this isn’t aimed at you. Or even at the swing voter. It’s aimed at jump-starting enthusiasm in the Mediacracy.
And the enthusiasm gap is very real. The media is still pulling for Obama, but it’s doing it with all the enthusiasm of writing a McGovern obituary.
The Washington Post’s endorsement of Obama is a case in point. It’s an obligatory piece of onion skin that fails to lay out what Obama has really done to deserve a second term, but instead attacks Romney, mildly, for refusing to raise taxes. The Post gives Obama credit for steadying the economy with the Dow Jones as the only metric. There are nods to ObamaCare and the pre-election gay rights spree, but there are far more criticisms.
WaPo concedes that Obama didn’t make the tough decisions on fiscal matters, blew Iraq and Afghanistan, and didn’t live up to his promises. It closes by repeating the Obama campaign’s talking points against Romney, that there’s no way of knowing what he believes and that Obama will be able to work better with Republicans who will be “chastened” by their defeat. This is wishful thinking on both their parts.
But what is notable about the Washington Post endorsement is not what is there, but what isn’t there. And the easiest way to see that is by comparing their 2012 endorsement to their 2008 endorsement which described Obama as “a man of supple intelligence, with a nuanced grasp of complex issues and evident skill at conciliation and consensus-building.”
Peering into the future, the Post promised us that Obama would “respond to the economic crisis with a healthy respect for markets” and “maintain U.S. leadership and engagement, continue the fight against terrorists, and wage vigorous diplomacy on behalf of U.S. values and interests”.
While the 2012 endorsement ridicules Romney for warning about the Russian threat, the 2008 endorsement warned of threats from, “an unstable, nuclear-armed Pakistan; a resurgent Russia menacing its neighbors”.
The endorsement concluded with a gushing overflow more fit for a celebrity profile. “Mr. Obama’s temperament is unlike anything we’ve seen on the national stage in many years. He is deliberate but not indecisive; eloquent but a master of substance and detail; preternaturally confident but eager to hear opposing points of view. He has inspired millions of voters of diverse ages and races, no small thing in our often divided and cynical country.”
But now the inspiration is gone. The 2012 endorsement closes by saying that Obama, “understands the urgency of the problems as well as anyone in the country.”
Perhaps we should give “anyone in the country” a shot.