Obama has a problem: What do you do when you're a lightly accomplished one-term senator, a former state legislator from Illinois, a Harvard law graduate who has no substantive record of accomplishments, and you are running against a war hero whom polls show that Americans overwhelmingly view as far more fit to be commander in chief?
Pose, of course.
What else can a guy like Obama do?
So the man who would be president of the United States of America flies around the world in the middle of a political campaign, enlisting the U.S. military and the Berlin Wall as free campaign commercial backdrops, to lend him the emotional weight and substance -- the aura as a commander -- that he hasn't yet earned on his own.
NBC's Andrea Mitchell was the one journalist with the courage to name what she was actually seeing happen: Obama faking even being interviewed by the press.
"Let me say something about the message management. He didn't have reporters with him, he didn't have a press pool, he didn't do a press conference," either in Afghanistan or Iraq, noted Mitchell on the air. Instead Obama manufactured "what some would call 'fake interviews,' because they are not interviews from a journalist," Mitchell went on.
Mitchell understands very well that this contrived image management is powerfully all to Obama's political advantage. He's shameless when it comes to managing his own image. "Politically it's as smart as can be," she conceded before noting the big obvious truth nobody else in the media was bothering to expose: "We've not seen a presidential candidate do this, in my recollection, ever before."
The whole Obama campaign is something we've never seen before -- at least not executed to this level of perfection with a media willing to go along because, well, so many of them want it to succeed.
Poor John McCain. He's so last-century. Still living in a world in which deeds matter, policies matter, what you would actually do with the power entrusted to you matters.
In the op ed the New York Times refused to print (which appeared in the New York Post this week instead), McCain lays out the facts in Iraq:
"Progress has been due mainly to an increase in the number of troops and a change in their strategy. I was an early advocate of the surge at a time when it had few supporters in Washington. Sen. Barack Obama was an equally vocal opponent."
Obama, he points out, still claims no political progress is being made. "Perhaps he's unaware that the U.S. embassy in Baghdad has recently certified that, as one news article put it, 'Iraq has met all but three of 18 original benchmarks set by Congress last year to measure security, political and economic progress,'" McCain jabs.
He jabs at an opponent who melts away from his punch.
McCain's approach is all so, well, cognitive. McCain thinks that reality is something that really exists, that has to be dealt with, instead of recognizing that we live in a Brave New World where highly paid symbolic analysts construct reality by manipulating symbols.
The left imagines they learned this from Ronald Reagan and the rise of the right: big strong guy, genial, looks good on camera -- bingo! Maybe you can't fool all the people all the time, but you can fool 51 percent every time, with the right branding and the right kind of images.
God help us when the people who think like that actually run all three branches of our government.
President Obama, if that's our future, and his team of symbolic analysts will find out soon enough there are realities out there which none of his contrivances are going to be able to help him handle.
More important, so will we.
Maggie Gallagher is a nationally syndicated columnist, a leading voice in the new marriage movement and co-author of The Case for Marriage: Why Married People Are Happier, Healthier, and Better Off Financially.