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?
Newsweek recycles the Obama campaign's favorite publicity themes: how he won over "conservative whites" at the Harvard Law Review (how hard was that?) and named them to posts there, as if he'd ever name conservatives to his Cabinet; how his wife, Michelle, overcame her "misperceptions" about him and discovered he was wonderful; how former opponent Rep. Bobby Rush compares him to Moses for his talent at winning powerful people over.
Newsweek is whistling past what may very well trip up the Democrats in 2008 -- that their nominee, whoever it is, will appear to be pandering to the radical-left base of their party at the expense of, well, everyone else. Wolffe and Briscoe trip all over themselves to deny that Obama or his backers are leftists -- even as their piece begins by touting how Obama won over far-left black professor Cornel West, a man last glimpsed in the public eye traveling in a junket with Harry Belafonte to meet and greet radical Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez. (Newsweek used no ideological label for West, either.)
Late in the article, they note that Obama was talked out of letting his pastor, Jeremiah Wright, deliver an invocation before his big announcement speech because Wright was "caricatured as a 'radical' for his Afrocentrism and his focus on black issues -- a strange criticism, perhaps, of a preacher on the South Side."
"Caricatured"? When New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor profiled Wright and Obama on April 30, she reported that Wright had gone to Libya in 1984 to meet with Moammer Qaddafi -- alongside Rev. Louis Farrakhan. (Why are all of Obama's allies enthralled with anti-American dictators?) Kantor described Wright as the man who converted Obama to Christianity, a "dynamic pastor who preached Afrocentric theology, dabbled in radical politics and delivered music-and-profanity-spiked sermons." So, according to Newsweek, Wright was "caricatured" as a radical -- even by the New York Times?
Newsweek is not an honest, nonpartisan broker for voters in the 2008 campaign. It is a transparent Tiger Beat fan magazine for Democrats, for "expanding America's sense of possibility" by promoting race and gender as the excuse for electing another liberal president.