To Set The Record Straight

Now they’re all saying it’s going to be a “close race.” Hillary Clinton finally threw in the towel (with unsurpassable ambivalence – she’s not giving up her campaign, she’s only putting it on hold), and Barack Obama can finally start to completely distinguish himself from John McCain. On the other hand, many passionate Clinton supporters have given notice that they won’t vote for Obama. They threaten that it won’t be only Republicans wearing the “Nobama” T-shirts.

At first glance, it looked like a McCain strategy to depict himself as the underdog - David vs. Goliath Obama - but the media enjoys getting involved in stage directions. First, they worked on casting Obama as too intellectual. They made his “difficulties” with seniors, whites, women, Latinos, Jews and, above all, the working class, their favorite subject for discussion, instead of helping to clear the air of misunderstandings. An especially favorite topic was whether Clinton’s defeat meant that sexism was more powerful than racism in the United States, instead of pointing out that Clinton had voted for going to war with Iraq, that her husband’s often petulant outpourings were no help to her campaign, and that she all too often played fast and loose with the truth, whether with the Bosnian sniper story, or the number of popular votes she received.

Now the media is trying its hardest to portray McCain as inventive, loveable and courageous, while at the same time emphasizing Obama’s vulnerabilities. On so-called “liberal” National Public Radio, a group of experts opined, among other things, that “the bloom was going of the rose,” meaning Obama. They also said that it was possible Obama had “hidden weaknesses,” that he barely hobbled across the finish line in the later primaries, and that he had to become a much better debater if he wanted to defeat John McCain. CNN went solicitously along with that line by describing Obama’s opposition to Bush’s tax cuts for the wealthy as “unfair,” emphasized in bold print in a photo caption.

All this shows just how desperate the conservatives really are. McCain doesn’t have close relations with the evangelicals who make up fully one-fourth of the American electorate. They don’t consider him very personally devout, or especially conservative. In parallel with that, conservatives are attempting to portray Obama as “little Hitler,” or as a ready-made left-winger, or even as a Muslim. This week, the Fox News Network showed the affectionate little “fist bump” shared between Michelle Obama and her husband before his victory speech, calling it a “terrorist fist bump.”

If the media continues harping on such points, McCain will be holding an astoundingly good hand in the fall, despite his own considerable weaknesses.