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Contentions

Milbank Goes There

The same Washington Post reporter/columnist who boasts that the National Review describes him as, “The most anti-Bush reporter currently assigned to the White House by a major news organization,” has a heavy-hitting column (already touched on by Jennifer here) accusing Senator Barack Obama of “becoming [his party's] presumptuous nominee.” It’s a charge levied every few days (the most persuasive piece of late was Charles Krauthammer’s), but it has to hurt more coming from a member of Obama’s choir.

Dana Milbank’s underlying criticism is that Obama’s actions share a peculiar similarity to George W. Bush’s and Dick Cheney’s. Obama commands a “presidential-style” that slows traffic, shuts down hallways, and attracts action-halting attention. Also, Obama has high profile meetings, conducts business in secrecy, frequently reveals his “inexperience,” and has too much “pride.” Milbank’s greatest complaint, however, is about the way the Obama campaign locks out the press.

Obama has run his candidacy on a single issue: his rhetoric suggests that he is campaigning as the anti-Bush candidate. With President Bush’s approval ratings in the pits, it’s an altogether sensible campaign strategy. But if Milbank’s critique is to be taken seriously, what does it say about the all those voting for Obama? If they hated Bush’s tactics, why do they let them slide in Obama? Perhaps the President’s supposedly sinister modus operandi was never really that objectionable after all.


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