The Obama team is facing three competing, but equally problematic (and connected) negative storylines. The first is The Ego. You have to love their initial defense: well he really is the symbol of America. Then they went with “the mean Republicans took it out of context.” Actually it was the Washington Post and really, even in some broader context who says things like ““I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions”? Well, other than Him. (And as Dean Barnett points out, the “context” doesn’t really help.)
Needless to say the MSM sees the danger looming. First Read (covering “the hubris factor“) explains that “this narrative has been ready to explode at some point and even a misreported quote was enough to spark this arrogance watch. Some see him violating the cardinal sin of politics, acting as if this campaign is about him.”
And now the McCain team decides to go full throttle: mocking and exposing the emptiness of “celebrity” status. Once again, it turns out that Obama is funny, or at least can be made fun of.
Second storyline: those female Hillary Clinton supporters are not agog over Obama. The question remains: Will they sit home? Vote for McCain? But it seems that the Ego Problem exacerbates the Women Problem. These gals, after all, were the ones who rolled their eyes with Hillary Clinton and nodded their heads when she lambasted his goo-goo rhetoric as “just words.” They don’t really like the King of the World shtick. So the more the Ego meme takes hold, the worse the problem for him with luring the working class, middle-aged Hillary set.
Final storyline: his New Politics theme is deader than dead. First came the campaign finance switcheroo and all the flip-flops. Now it turns out that the “little people” he’s taking donations from include some lobbyists. So, he doesn’t really talk about New Politics anymore because it fails the plausibility test. That might be alright (since many didn’t know what the New Politics meant anyway), but what is the replacement theme? Right now it’s the Ego. In short he’s lost his essential message, or one of them ( the other being: “Bad George W. Bush. McCain=Bush. Vote for Me.”), and he’s not talking about much else.
So maybe all this was inevitable. And you can’t argue that the McCain camp isn’t doing its job and fanning the flames. But it sure does seem a long time ago that the entire MSM was in a state of rapture over the trip.