WashPost First Ignores, Then Spins Walkout of Obama/Brown Rally

On Monday, Maryland conservative political blogger Jeff Quinton detailed how Washington Post campaign reporters completely ignored how attendees at Sunday's Democratic campaign rally for gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown were streaming for the exits during President Obama's endorsement speech. The Post, it should be noted, has backed Mr. Brown, albeit with a lukewarm endorsement column.

On Tuesday, Post columnist Dana Milbank admitted that the crowds did thin out well before the event was concluded, but he made sure to put the best possible spin on the matter. Even so, Milbank admitted that generally speaking, throughout the country, Mr. Obama is a pariah to many Democrats on the ballot this November (emphasis mine): 

The man Obama was stumping for — Maryland gubernatorial candidate Anthony Brown — has a healthy lead over his Republican opponent in reliably Democratic Maryland and therefore had little worry about sharing a stage with Obama. Even so, they left the presidential seal off the lectern, and Obama remained hidden offstage while Brown addressed the crowd.

Yet for all those precautions, Obama’s rare campaign appearance did not go as planned — and not only because a man heckled him for his refusal to block more deportations. With about five minutes to go in his 25-minute speech, about the time Obama said, “I’m just telling you what you already know,” people began to trickle out. By the time he had finished, perhaps a few hundred had walked out on the president.

This exodus wasn’t intended as a protest. Long lines for shuttles taking attendees to remote parking sites induced participants to leave early so they could beat the rush. But the overall effect was akin to what happens when baseball fans begins filtering out in the seventh inning because the home team is down by five runs. And, in a way, that is what’s going on in these midterm elections.

Obama is President Pariah in these final weeks of the 2014 midterms. Vulnerable Democratic candidates don’t want to be seen with him. Three Democratic senators have run ads distancing themselves from him, and Alison Lundergan Grimes, the Democratic Senate candidate in Kentucky, has refused — absurdly — to say whether she voted for Obama. Obama’s support is 40 percent nationally and lower in the Republican states where many of this year’s competitive races are taking place.


Obama emerged to a thunderous cheer and the strains of U2’s “City of Blinding Lights,” and his speech was interrupted by shouts of “We love you!” and “You’re the best!” But he has been off the trail for a long time, and his speech drifted discursively from Brown, to his own record and agenda, to the ills of the Republicans, back to Brown and then back to the Republicans. Finally, he arrived at a “you’ve got to vote” riff.

This had the sound of a peroration, which started the race for the shuttle buses. But, oblivious to the thinning crowd, Obama kept going, about the need to fight cynicism and to advance the American dream.

So it goes for President Pariah in 2014: Even among the faithful, Obama’s magic can’t match the urge to get a jump on traffic.

True, it's highly unlikely that the rally attendees were streaming for the exits out of protest. It was more likely out of boredom and having better things to do on a Sunday afternoon. That said, it does speak to an apathy in the governor's race and a lack of energetic backing by Democrats for their nominee, who would, if elected, become the first black governor of Maryland. Black Democratic voters in Maryland may still love Barack Obama, but his endorsement of Mr. Brown hardly seems to be convincing them to be excited and energized to pull the lever for him in a fortnight.

What's more, while many polls show Brown with a comfortable lead, there most certainly is a reason that the Democratic Governor's Association pumped $400,000 into advertising to support Brown, something the DGA should never have to do in the deeply blue-hued Old Line State. Simply put, the race -- largely centered on the O'Malley/Brown administration's record on taxes and spending -- is a little close for comfort and Democrats are worried. 

The Washington Post can shield Brown from bad news all it wants to, and make no mistake they have done that repeatedly, but at the end of the day the paper's biased coverage may hold much less weight for Maryland voters than an unshakeable sense of fatigue, if not disgust, with the outgoing Democratic administration.

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