Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Double Fantasy 08′

While Barack Obama earns a standing ovation for blowing his nose, John McCain gets the full smear job for having been in the company of a female lobbyist. This is fitting, as the adulation surrounding Obama’s every twitch is as manufactured as the finger-wagging over McCain’s non-alleged scandal. Troubling that in the most serious of times, the media refuses to take this election seriously.

The New York Times piece in question is the journalistic equivalent of push-polling or the “it was all a dream” narrative explanation. They float a juicy two-pronged premise (adultery and political compromise) before the electorate with no greater justification than that some anonymous observers had mistakenly assumed it to be true. In the article, the Times practically does a cut-and-paste of the most incriminating bits, detailing the non-allegations at the beginning and end, so that all the relevant refutations are framed in slime.

John McCain came up against this kind of unscrupulous warfare in South Carolina during the 2000 primaries. George Bush’s camp invented a scenario to play on voters’ prejudice under the guise of a poll. Voters were asked if they would vote for McCain if they knew he had fathered an illegitimate black child. Back then, the attack was orchestrated by his opponent. That today such methods are employed by a supposedly impartial press goes to show how far the tenor of political coverage has sunk. But in either case it is a testament to John McCain’s character and record that the most potentially damaging blows to his candidacy need to be fashioned out of thin air. Just as it’s an indication of Barack Obama’s actual flimsiness that the abilities for which he’s adored are also fabrications. Elections have dealt in sleaze before, but this inclination towards legitimizing fiction is a new and alarming turn.



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