When was the last time the MSM took a Republican’s side in a fight over credibility with a Democratic opponent? Well, it has been a while. However, conservatives have little to grumble about in the recent face-off between Barack Obama and John McCain over McCain’s statement that troops might have to remain for “100 years” in Iraq “as long as Americans are not being injured or harmed or wounded or killed” after fighting had concluded, as they have done in South Korea and Germany.
Most recently, ABC’s Jake Tapper noted that at least on three occasions Obama had personally said that McCain favored continued fighting in Iraq for 100 years. Tapper concluded that “Obama has in the past distorted McCain’s comments” and “that he is violating his own stated aspirations…[b]ecause not only has he distorted what McCain said, he is not being honest about having made those distortions.”
Tapper is not the only MSM reporter to point this out, of course. It is not every day that the RNC sends around e-mail blasts quoting Frank Rich (“Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton should be ashamed of themselves for libeling John McCain”) and reports from the Chicago Tribune, Atlantic Monthly, AP, New York Times, Washington Post, Slate and other MSM outlets, all for the same proposition: Obama is lying.
This episode is revealing both about Obama the man and about the misconceptions he may have about the media.
NOW IT IS NOT UNUSUAL for candidates to fudge (that is political parlance for lying), get caught, and then wriggle out of their prevarication by claiming it was all a “misunderstanding” or their words were “taken out of context.” But Obama has not done that here. Instead, he has doubled down again and again to repeat his lie. What this tells us is the candidate who is all about “change” is more likely a sly huckster who believes he can con the public and the media alike.
If he persists after being revealed as lying, it must be, reasonable people might conclude, because he thinks he can get away with it. Coming from the cocoon of liberal academia and the left of the Democratic Party, he has lived a charmed political life, relying on guile and evasion, determined in his belief he is more clever and swift-footed than his foes. After all, he emerged from the Reverend Wright controversy without being pinned down as to exactly what controversial statements he had personally heard or why he selected Wright’s church in the first place. All it took was a flowery speech to knock the media hounds off the trail.
So, in large part his “100 years” tactic may be plain arrogance. This is a man convinced of his own wisdom, goodness, and messianic appeal. For what other neophyte Senator would declare that “foreign policy is the area where I am probably most confident that I know more and understand the world better than Senator Clinton or Senator McCain”?
PART OF WHAT MAY be fueling this strategy of lie-lie-and-lie again also may be the belief, well founded on years of experience, that the MSM rarely calls out a Democrat, a liberal one at that, for distorting a Republican’s words. Obama and his advisers, who have grown accustomed to kid glove treatment from the MSM, certainly expected a different response, perhaps at best a “the sides differ on what he meant” conclusion, which would allow Obama to repeat his distortion with impunity.
But we are in new media landscape where MSM outlets face competition from conservative news media and every interested person can watch McCain’s statement and the Obama responses for himself on YouTube. It is odd that the candidate who is so new, so farsighted and so adept at parroting the mantra of “change” should have missed a wholesale change in media coverage of political campaigns. Did he miss Rathergate? Was he unaware of the Baghdad diarist’s unmasking?
In short, he seems, either due to ignorance or arrogance, to have missed the new rule in American politics: it is much harder to lie than it used to be.
And for those who have fancied Obama as a harbinger of a new style of politics and a savvy exemplar of a new generation of political leaders, they may want to reconsider. He seems pretty much like the last of a generation of dishonest, clueless politicians.