Commentary Magazine


A Distraction from Distraction

At the New York Times‘ Caucus blog, Michael Powell writes that Barack Obama’s fundamental challenge is “getting his message through.”

Getting his message through??? I imagine, and this is serious, that there are babies out there whose first words sound something like “Obamachange” (and whose mental faculties are more than adequate to wrestle with the “meaning” of the fluffy utterance.) The only thing to look forward to about the Olympics is that the 24/7 coverage may push Obama ‘s “America Is In Tatters” tour off a few pages and screens for a few precious seconds.

What Powell is really complaining about is that the McCain team bested Obama with a few recent ads, and that Obama’s attempt to paint the McCain camp as race-baiters backfired. Powell (and Obama) label these blows “distractions.” Here’s Obama:

If you think about this week, what they’ve been good at is distraction. You’ve got statistics saying we lost another 50,000 jobs. That Florida is in recession for the first time in a decade and a half. And what was being talked about was Paris and Britney.

Not true, Senator. What was being talked about was you and whether or not you were more a pop culture phenomenon or a leader of depth and seriousness. The commercial served to steer the discussion of you in that direction, that’s all. If anything, the commercial helped viewers away from the distraction of mellifluous speeches and utopian promises so that they could focus on important considerations.

But, Obama is employing a cute tactic here: When something comes up that calls your abilities or qualifications into question, you point to it as a distraction from ruinous Republican leadership. It’s cute, but it’s a sure loser. Real cracks are starting to show.