AP Ropeline Story an Excuse to Chronicle Obamalatry?

In his October 20 feature "Obama ropelines: bouncing babies, controlled chaos," Associated Press writer Charles Babington found room to write about enthusiastic crowds reveling in the Obamessiah.

The hosannas have already been sung in numerous stories of this variety from earlier in the campaign, but for some reason Babington thought fit to chronicle the cries of adulation from the Illinois senator's faithful followers (emphases mine; h/t e-mail tipster Joe Loiacono):

Only a fraction of the thousands of people who attend Obama's larger rallies manage to touch him. They arrive hours early, stand and cheer during his speech, and then scream, jump and sometimes cry out in joy when he uses both hands to briefly press their arms, hands, fingers.

The noise rivals a rock concert.

Mostly, Obama says simply "thank you," explaining that he can't stop for photos or autographs.

"Just take pictures, I can't pose," he says firmly, as people hold their cameras above the mob. He usually smiles and looks pleased, but he turns somber when he pauses to hear of someone's sorrow. What is a once-in-a-lifetime thrill for his supporters is a daily job for Obama, and he performs it in steady, workmanlike fashion.


In Cincinnati recently, a middle-aged black woman gripped his arm and said, "I'm living my mother's dream," apparently a reference to seeing a black man so close to winning the presidency. Obama hugged her and moved on. She wiped her eyes.

Diane Kelly, 64, got two hugs. Trembling with emotion, she caught his attention by saying, "Thank you for the hope." He hugged her, and said, "I appreciate you."

She would not let go. "I think I'm going to cry," she told him. Obama hugged her again and moved on.

Kelly, who is white, wept, hiding her eyes with her hand.

Later, in an interview, she said, "He reminds me of President Kennedy. He's down to earth, he realizes what our struggles are."

"I'm still shaking," she said. "He's the only hope we have."

By contrast a similar October 20 article by AP's Philip Elliott contained this earth-shattering revelation about McCain and his approach to ropelines:

Working the "ropeline" — the fence or security barricade that separates a candidate from the crowd — is part of the rhythm of any presidential campaign. Some candidates are energized by the experience; others view it as a chore.

In McCain's case, his reaction seems to hinge on whether he's established a connection with the crowd during his appearance: If it's been a boisterous, enthusiastic group, he's inclined to linger and shake hands. If he's gotten a lukewarm reception, he'll bolt for the motorcade.

Wow, politicians are more likely to greet enthusiastic supporters than a tough crowd. Imagine that.

Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd
Ken Shepherd is a writer living in New Carrollton, Md.