The "historic" Democratic presidential primaries of 2008 are kicking in already, and the online announcements of Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton have spun the media into a frothy sweet frappucino of giddiness.
Take ABC, whose Claire Shipman described the emerging Democratic race this way: "Call it Obama wave collides with Clinton juggernaut," a contest between Obama's "fluid poetry" and Hillary's "hot factor" from her "ever-popular" husband. If this piece was in print instead of on television, it would have fallen off the page with all the exclamation points. High-school dance squads have less enthusiasm; high school term papers have less hyperbole.
Let's face it: Nobody in the media really waited for the kickoffs to begin in January. News magazines were swooning over Obama and Hillary on their covers last year, advertising their "audacity of hope" for a complete liberal takeover of Washington. Their ardor is never-ending.
The campaigns have just begun, and already, I've had just enough of this pandering. Is being black or being female a qualification, something that makes you a superior president? Or is the election of 2008 going to operate on the theme of America being dared to prove it's "ready" to endorse diversity for diversity's sake? The media are already knocking on that thematic door: Is America still too racist or sexist to pick either a black ultraliberal or a female ultraliberal?
Whatever happened to the notion of merit? Or the value of experience? What about ideology? These factors have so far been undervalued in the hype factory.
Badly hidden in all the media's excitement is the belief that America's supposedly still-oppressed and powerless minorities just naturally do things better, or at the very least, should be allowed to man the helm (woman the helm?) because it's their turn.
Last week, ABC's "Good Morning America" hosted all 16 female senators, and Diane Sawyer asked: If the world had more female presidents, would the world see less war? They agreed that they are superior to men in their talent for being collegial and collaborative.
Hillary stepped out and announced women had more "openness to process" and working together. This clashed dramatically with Hillary's interviews on the other networks, where she explicitly advocated cutting off funding for the security details for Prime Minister Maliki and other Iraqi leaders until they cry uncle to American demands. How is that collaboration and collegiality?
Can you imagine someone proposing the Clintons have their Secret Service details axed until they cried uncle in a negotiation? And how quickly would our media treat them as assassin-baiters (not to mention Clinton-haters) of the first rank?