The Presumptuous Meme
by Todd Beeton, Wed Jul 30, 2008 at 12:17:56 PM EDT
In the coverage of Barack Obama's trip abroad, reporters marveled at Obama's confidence and unflappability in the presence of world leaders and on the world stage. But there was an undercurrent to the coverage: was he too confident? How dare Obama give Sarkozy advice. Is it confidence or arrogance?
Cue Dana Milbank in WaPo, which opens with this gem:
Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee.
Get it? Presumptive...presumptuous...
Milbank goes on to report on Obama's closed meeting with the House delegation and irresponsibly, but typically, truncates Obama's statements for his own narrative purposes:
Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."
The truth, of course, is that Obama was actually making the point that it wasn't about him at all, but that's of little concern to Milbank who has a yarn to spin, which culminates in this snarky proclamation:
As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama's biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris.
Some say the supremely confident Obama -- nearly 100 days from the election, he pronounces that "the odds of us winning are very good" -- has become a president-in-waiting.
Obama repeating the media CW that it's his election to lose = arrogance! hubris!
The meme was perpetuated by WaPo's Jonathon Weisman and Maureen Dowd who mocks Obama as someone demanding to be worshipped, and of course, by McCain himself whose offensive new ad portrays Obama as more celebrity than world leader. In fact, as Matt Stoller notes, the ad is a freakin buffet of identity politics attacks but should we be surprised? This is how it works every time, the nexus of media and the Republican attack machine creating an emotional anchor with which to sink the Democrat. In just a matter of a few days an entire narrative spun before our eyes. And the Obama campaign's response:
"On a day when major news organizations across the country are taking Senator McCain to task for a steady stream of false, negative attacks, his campaign has launched yet another. Or, as some might say, 'Oops! He did it again.' Our dependence on foreign oil is one of the greatest challenges we face. In this election the American people have a real choice -- between Obama's plan to provide tax rebates to American families while creating a renewable energy economy in America that frees us from our dependence on foreign oil, and Senator McCain's plan to continue the same failed energy policies by handing out nearly $4 billion in tax breaks to oil companies while investing almost nothing in the new energy sources that represent our future," said Obama campaign spokesman Tommy Vietor.
That and a chart that breaks down how the ad is false point by point. Really? Are we reverting to that again, the idea that the right can be countered with data points? McCain is desperate to define Obama before the Olympics start and the media has willingly aided and abetted. I hope the Obama campaign has more up its sleeve than appeals to reason to fight this latest meme because it's showing signs of sticking.
Update [2008-7-30 16:36:14 by Todd Beeton]:You know a meme has taken root when Letterman picks up on it.