The Spectacle Blog

TNR: Obama and McCain Two Sides of Same Coin?

By on 3.11.08 | 11:29PM

In The New Republic, Michael Crowley attempts to describe McCain and Obama as remarkably similar. Opening line:

Though they differ in many ways, John McCain and Barack Obama have one thing in common: Each sees the other as a posturing phony.

Go ahead and read it and come back (quickly, please, I don't want to lose you). Crowley goes on to describe ways in which McCain has questioned the authenticity of Obama's "reformist" credentials (through "sarcasm" and "contempt"), while Obama has done the same to McCain (through "cracks" and "snickers"). But I don't quite get the parallel.

The piece only dishes on McCain's temper and Obama's partisanship. So when Crowley describes both as being equally unwilling to meet in the middle ("Still, for all their talk of bipartisanship, neither man had demonstrated much of it"), I'm left scratching my head.

All of Crowley's sources admit that Obama really was "carrying water" for Harry Reid. Nowhere does Crowley show that McCain was doing the same for the Republicans -- in fact he does quite the opposite by referencing McCain's "sense of honor" that was offended by Obama's failure to live up to his word on crossing the aisle. Meanwhile, conservatives remember well enough McCain's willingness to cross them the aisle.

The biggest problem with this approach is the weight placed on McCain's temper. We've already seen this story. We haven't seen the story (and badly needed Crowley to write) about Obama sheepishly bowing to party pressure and playing the Senate freshman. In this sense, it's pretty clear who's playing phony.

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