Ana Marie Cox, columnist for the Guardian, joins me today for a brief conversation.
ANA MARIE: Hey, you there?
JASON: Sure, what's up?
ANA MARIE: I need to complain about a Politico thing!
JASON: Okay, I am here for you.
ANA MARIE: Today's feature story, by Mike Allen and Jim VandeHei, has this lede: "Nothing inspires Democrats like the Barack Obama swagger — the supreme self-confidence on stage, the self-certainty in private." Is that true? Really? That is their lede.
JASON: Uhm...I would like to get somebody's on-the-record quote on that.
ANA MARIE: I mean, really. Personally, I think Democrats get really nervous about his swagger, and if they are inspired by him, it's on those occasions where he speaks for the unspoken-for, so to speak.
JASON: I think you're actually more likely to find Democrats -- at least actual lawmaking Democrats -- are rather unnerved by the way Obama's "swagger" manifests itself in aloofness. That whole, "Don't worry I got this" thing that Obama is reputed to have? Well, guess what? I'm gonna worry, I think? I think that maybe you AREN'T actually going to get Chuck Grassley's vote on health care reform, for example? Just a hunch.
ANA MARIE: Yes! The notion that the swagger itself is "inspiring?" I doubt you could find some suburban starry-eyed city-council activist who thinks that. It's just an assertion that exists to validate the rest of the story. Which is also dumb, by the way! Here's the next sentence: "So nothing inspires more angst than when that same Obama stumbles, as he has leaving the gate in 2012."
JASON: Ha! Yeah, well, I similarly don't think anyone is of the mind that his re-election hopes are doomed. It's May.
ANA MARIE: Also, please define "stumble." Gay marriage: was that the "stumble"?
JASON: This all pertains to Cory Booker's inability to "stay on message" on "Meet The Press."
ANA MARIE: Surely! Oh, and look: this sentence is in the sixth paragraph: "Surely, all of this could prove to be ephemeral and meaningless in the arc of a long presidential contest."
ANA MARIE: Let's just put that sentence in every Politico story ever.
JASON: I am imagining the scene right now. Jim VandeHei leans over Mike Allen and asks, "Did you write the sixth-paragraph premise-negater, like I asked you to?"
ANA MARIE: Maybe Mike Allen has a Word Macro for that.
JASON: Politico should just put that on their banner. You know how Elizabeth Spiers put "Nothing sacred but the truth" back on the front page of the New York Observer? Politico's print edition should have the tagline, "Surely, all of this could prove to be ephemeral and meaningless."
ANA MARIE: I would like that on a T-shirt, please. They get things all on track two paragraphs later: "But for now, it’s impossible to overlook the early struggles of a White House and political team notorious for discipline and effectiveness."
JASON: I don't know, I question the use of the word "impossible" there. Were there no other Politico stories today?
ANA MARIE: It is "nearly impossible," I guess.
JASON: Somewhat plausible, though unlikely.
ANA MARIE: Unless it proves to be ephemeral and meaningless!