Monday, August 25, 2008

Upchucked Republican talking points, media mouths gaping wide, regurgitated smears

By Michael J.W. Stickings

Obama made a sound veep pick over the weekend, the Democratic Convention starts today, and, well, you'd think it would be, if I may get a bit nautical with you, pretty much clear sailing for Obama and the Democrats.

But you'd be mistaken.

Of course, it's hardly a surprise that McCain and the Republicans are all over Obama and the Democrats. There was the initial statement from the McCain camp on the Biden pick -- "There has been no harsher critic of Barack Obama's lack of experience than Joe Biden" -- and the ad that followed, featuring footage from one of last year's Democratic primary debates when Biden said that Obama wasn't yet ready to be president. And there have been two pro-Hillary -- yes, pro-Hillary -- ads put out by the McCain camp, trying to stir up conflict and division, not to mention the various rantings and ravings of the crazytariat (neologism!) of the right.

All part of a concerted effort not just to continue to bash/smear Obama and the Democrats but to try to distract the media and influence both their coverage of this weeks Democratic Convention and the larger narrative of the presidential race. As TNR's Eve Fairbanks (who gets a second nod here today) notes: "Nobody knows how much truly dangerous anti-Obama sentiment exists among former Hillary supporters or how many Hillary delegates will vote for John McCain in November... But I guarantee some of us in the press will spend today haplessly running around looking for more of them out here, to fill out our stories about this ad and the angry-Hillary-brigades-hit-Denver storyline."

One of them in the press is Krazy Bill Kristol, who is all-too-eager to play right along: "The anguished cries of Hillary supporters pierced the midday calm here [in Denver] on Saturday, as Barack Obama confirmed that his vice presidential choice was not Clinton, who got about 18 million votes this year running against him, but rather Joe Biden," begins his latest upchuck in the Times. Right -- because he only has the best interests of Hillary and her party in mind.

Much is the same in the somewhat less partisan, but still partisan, parts of the press. Consider this headline from Le Politico: "Tensions boil between Obama-Clinton camps." And this one from Marc Ambinder: "A Flare-Up Between Hillaryland and Denver." And this one from the Journal: "Tensions Linger as Some Clinton Supporters Are Left Frustrated." True, Bill may not be "happy with [his] convention role," as CNN is reporting, but is it really that bad? Are tensions really boiling? Is the party, coming into the convention with a solid ticket, really about to come apart at the seams at any moment? That's what the McCain camp and its Kristolian followers wants us to believe, and the press, including its allegedly neutral members, captivated by the right but also eager to drum up sensationalized drama at every turn, seems to be regurgitating their upchucked talking points verbatim.

But what else is new?

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