Commentary Magazine


The Morning After

Sometimes the combination of a good night’s sleep and the media spin machine has a way of transforming events. The good news for John McCain: Obama spoke too late to make much of the newspaper coverage. His speech was fluff, so little if any of the text was quoted (could the part about lowering the ocean levels have been just too embarrassing to relate?). And, better yet, the “stumbling” to the finish line storyline was given new oxygen by Barack Obama’s loss in South Dakota. McCain’s speech was covered and the press duly covered his main themes, especially the notion that the election may be about what type of change the voters want and whether Obama’s rhetoric matches his record.

McCain got some help as Hillary Clinton got her share of ink and attention over the “What does she want?” issue. (Can Obama imagine four or eight years of lime-light stealing?) It was not lost on the press that Clinton is attempting to strong-arm the new nominee.

And perhaps the media, with their least favorite candidate out of the way (not yet, but almost) will toughen the coverage of Obama a bit. He is the nominee and they, to their chagrin, must report the facts now and then. Even the New York Times concedes he is largely an unknown quantity who has “stumbled and fumbled” a number of times.

So the McCain camp must be pleased: as difficult as it may have been to watch McCain’s speech, the substance was good. The timing early in the evening and his mere presence drew coverage. And Clinton is doing her best (or at least having the effect) of making Obama in his moment of glory weaker and less in command than he no doubt would like.