After months of adulatory press (minus a few weeks of Jeremiah Wright), have the national media finally begun responding to a large-scale critique of Barack Obama? Yes, argues Politico reporter Carrie Budoff Brown in a piece which she alleges that the Illinois senator is now being hit for being too arrogant:
Barack Obama’s critics laid down the foundations of the strategy months ago: The Republican National Committee started the “Audacity Watch” back in April, and Karl Rove later fueled the attack by describing the first-term Illinois senator as “coolly arrogant.”
It wasn’t until the last week, however, that the narrative of Obama as a president-in-waiting — and perhaps getting impatient in that waiting — began reverberating beyond the inboxes of Washington operatives and journalists.
Perhaps one of the clearest indications emerged Tuesday from the world of late-night comedy, when David Letterman offered his “Top Ten Signs Barack Obama is Overconfident.” The examples included Obama proposing to change the name of Oklahoma to “Oklobama” and measuring his head for Mount Rushmore.
“When Letterman is doing ‘Top Ten’ lists about something, it has officially entered the public consciousness,” said Dan Schnur, a political analyst from the University of Southern California and the communications director in John McCain’s 2000 campaign. “And it usually stays there for a long, long time.”
Following a nine-day, eight-country tour that carried the ambition and stagecraft of a presidential state visit, Obama has found himself in an unusual position: the butt of jokes.
Jon Stewart teased that the presumptive Democratic nominee traveled to Israel to visit his birthplace at Bethlehem’s Manger Square. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd amplified the McCain campaign’s private nickname for Obama (“The One”).
I'm inclined to agree, however, if it is true that Barack Obama is being considered too arrogant and that this criticism is now a media metanarrative it's interesting to note that this is a wholly non-ideological critique. Why does that matter? Because non-ideological points are pretty much the only type of criticism that you'll see the establishment liberal press allow to be made against Democratic presidential candidates. Republicans, meanwhile, can be criticized at a personal level and on a policy level.
Think back: In 2004, George W. Bush was portrayed by Big Media as an arrogant, stupid, warmonger peddling reckless tax cut. In contrast, John Kerry was portrayed as a high-falutin' rich kid who was being dogged by false charges of insufficient patriotism. (Right-leaning arguments against a Democrat are always spurious.)
In 2000, Bush was portrayed as an ignorant doofus who wouldn't have gotten anywhere without his daddy's status. On the ideological side, he was a stupid isolationist with a fetish for tax cuts and destroying Social Security. Al Gore, meanwhile was just a robotic arrogant jerk.
Go further back and the trend still holds. Bob Dole was an old desperate sell-out pandering to the far right, Bill Clinton was just a philanderer who wasn't sufficiently liberal. George H. W. Bush, meanwhile was basically the same as Dole with the added horror of being the legatee of the fiend Ronald Reagan.
You have to go back to 1988 with Michael Dukakis to find a Democrat who encountered widespread criticism in Big Media for his ideology. That is a pretty sad fact.
Hat tip: Daniel Hughes. Image courtesy of our friends at Wizbang.