The "Obama Tapes"

Carol Platt Liebau

10/3/2012 8:38:02 AM - Carol Platt Liebau

The Daily Caller's taped speech of Barack Obama praising his pastor, bellowing about racism and generally pandering to an audience of black pastors isn't really the "game changer" that many might have hoped (or thought) it would be.  Partisans on both sides may hope or fear it's big, but my sense is that normal people just aren't going to completely change their votes on the basis of it.  

Indirectly, though, it does do some bot-insignificant damage to the President and his partisans in the press.  Here's how:

1. The President - it presents Obama with an authenticity problem.  The angry, preacher-cadenced candidate in the videotape is a far cry from the image the President has tried to present of himself in other contexts, where he strives to come off as cool and cerebral.  Viewers are left wondering: Who is the "real" Obama? Is he truly an "angry" guy, as seen in the videotape, or is he just a racial panderer who is willing to play a role in order to appeal to an audience of black pastors?  Whatever Obama persona one chooses to believe is the essential one, the role-playing smacks of studied manipulation of one audience or the other, which does make a candidate who is surviving largely on his perceived "likability" significantly less likable.

2. Media - For those paying attention on the margins, the media's reputation is even further damaged by the very fact that remarks that went unreported-on in 2007 are now making big news, especially when one hears that the President strayed from his prepared remarks, yet we heard nothing about it.  In fact, at points in the speech, Obama actually announces that what he's about to say is not in the prepared remarks.  It's controversial, yet it remained conveniently unreported-upon.  Most independents and conservatives already realize the press is in the tank for Obama.  This just reinforces that conclusion -- hey, haven't we been told that Mitt Romney's the one with the "authenticity" problem?

For marginally-attuned voters, it must be somewhat unpleasant -- almost four years in -- to realize that we still don't really know the guy who's our President, and that some of his partisans in the press have been pretty heavily invested in keeping it that way.