The 2008 presidential campaign could be one of the most critical in recent history. As things now stand, it could also be one of the most tiresome. Nowhere is media snobbishness more evident than when the big picture begins with the snide liberal elitist take on America: Is the country "ready" to elect a black like Barack Obama or a woman like Hillary Clinton?
If Americans reject the icons of liberalism and vote Republican, apparently they will be proving the country is stuffed with benighted bigots who refuse to "expand America's sense of possibility." Those gauzy words came from Newsweek in its Barack-and-Hillary cover at the end of 2006. Obama's back on the cover of Newsweek again for the July 16 edition, photographed in black and white, with another question from left field: Will Obama be black enough for blacks and yet conciliatory enough for whites?
Reporters Richard Wolffe and Daren Briscoe apply all the usual goo to the Obama cause. "Many of Obama's supporters are enthralled by the content of his character -- by his earnest desire to heal the nation's political divisions and to restore America's reputation in the world." Many are also "excited by the color of his skin" and the "chance to turn the page" on American racism, Wolffe and Briscoe add, but blacks are wary that whites might go soft and self-satisfied and think the "playing field is leveled."
Here's another sappy line: "On the campaign trail, Obama doesn't seek sympathy: He evokes hope." The reporters tell the story of how once-segregated Cairo, Ill., greeted Obama warmly during his 2004 Senate campaign. Pass the Pepto, please.
It's not very difficult to demonstrate that Newsweek doesn't provide this fluffy pillow and after-dinner chocolate to every candidate. Take its March 12 cover story on Rudy Giuliani: "Giuliani can be arrogant, abrasive and imperious, an average-size man trying too hard to prove himself to be a giant."
Reporter Jonathan Darman told of Giuliani's father being an enforcer for loan-sharks, dug up Giuliani screaming petulantly in Washington and quoted former mayor Ed Koch "sticking up" for his colleague: "Blacks and Hispanics would say 'he's a racist!' I said, 'Absolutely not, he's nasty to everybody.'"
There was praise in the article, too, for his revival of New York and crisis leadership on 9-11, which raises the salient point: Just what has Obama accomplished in his brief period in the Senate that in any way matches the Giuliani turn-around in New York?