Thursday, May 08, 2008

Obama's Changes the Game and Wins Bet on USA

Joe Klein has a must read piece at Time, called Obama's Game Changing.

He starts by describing his conflicted feelings of Hillary's metamorphosis:
The "holiday" had next to no chance of passing Congress. Her sell was, well, shameless pandering. On the other hand, my cynical low-information political brain was saying, You go, girl. This was fun to watch...It seemed like smart politics too. It was the kind of thing I have seen "work" throughout my nearly 40-year career as a journalist, an era that coincided neatly with the rise of consultant-driven flummery: you could fool most of the people most of the time. For nearly 30 years, the Republican offer of tax breaks had trumped the Democratic offer of responsible budgeting.
And calls her altered state Faustian:

Clinton's new glow, her newfound stump proficiency, her symbiosis with Limbaugh, seemed an eerily Faustian narrative. But, as we know, those sorts of bargains tend to end badly.
He notes Obama's alteration (Maureen Dowd would say Obama lost his butterfly wings)

The formerly charismatic Obama had undergone a transformation of his own: from John F. Kennedy to Adlai Stevenson, from dashing rhetorician to good-government egghead.
Klein contrasts their Sunday morning new program duel and is fascinated by Clinton - what she seemed like watching, and what she seemed like when one read the transcript. (I couldn't watch her on Sunday - I can't watch her any more). I was fascinated by this non-answer:
It wasn't until I read the transcript that I realized that Clinton's bravado had masked a brazenly empty performance. Stephanopoulos nailed her time after time, mostly on matters of character. She said, for example, that her husband's charitable foundation was private and didn't have to release the names of its donors. "Yet the foundation sold the donor list, 38,000 names," Stephanopoulos pointed out. Clinton said she didn't "know anything about that. You'd have to ask the foundation." In retrospect, it was easy to see that Clinton was desperate, willing to say almost anything to get over. At the time, she just seemed strong...
And he concludes with this:

In the end, Obama's challenge to the media is as significant as his challenge to McCain. All the evidence — and especially the selection of these two apparent nominees — suggests the public not only is taking this election very seriously but is also extremely concerned about the state of the nation and tired of politics as usual. I suspect the public is also tired of media as usual, tired of journalists who put showmanship over substance.
That's part of the game change too, and it thrills me. I didn't go into working in news largely because I saw that shift from showmanship over substances, looks over brains, ratings over civic responsibility to create an informed democracy. We don't need freedom of the press from government interference. We need freedom of the press from the likes of Les Moonves, from corporate greed. This is exactly why Stewart and Colbert are so popular. They mock the superficiality of the press.

I heard the challenge to the media also in Obama's speech. On Tuesday night Obama criticized the Republicans for "the same names and labels they always pin on everyone who doesn't agree with all their ideas, the same efforts to distract us from the issues that affect our lives, by pouncing on every gaffe and association and fake controversy, in the hopes that the media will play along."

I was surprised, or maybe not so surprised to hear Chris Matthews on Tuesday night bemoan having to go over exit polls regarding race. Obama made the press, made Chris Matthews, feel ashamed for the slicing and dicing of the electorate, the division rather than unity. And Matthews, at least, got that message and felt chagrin.

There's also a fascinating proposal from Mark McKinnon (the former McCain adviser who recused himself rather than attack Obama) in Klein's piece. Go read it in full.

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