I guess the Uppity One on a World Tour was just too much for their lily-white hearts. There are, after all, rules. In the Willa Cather world the Washington press corps inhabit, decorum is life. Birth and breeding will out. George Bush has the sense and sensibility of a trailer park whore, but he's got Barbara's genes and a political pedigree -- like an expensive dog. John McCain makes George Bush look like the cover boy for the Journal of the Mind, but he was a Soldier who shows the press proper deference and never suggests that he's brighter than they are. They love him in return.
The Los Angeles Times highlighted a study by the Center for Media and Public Affairs at George Mason University showing that "ABC, NBC and CBS were tougher on Obama than on Republican John McCain during the first six weeks of the general-election campaign."
It's not just the networks. The press pack has turned. The unfortunate Maureen Dowd provides a rambling column of nitpicking negatives that ends by repeating the narrative that Obama should be winning by a landslide, and since he is not, needs all the help he can get.
She points a finger because he does not personally pick out the trinkets he brings to his daughters from the road. Hearing that he saw his daughter perform in a play of The Odyssey, she writes: "I wonder if that rang any bells on this trip." Get it? Heroes? Thank God he didn't see her in a kiddie Mamma Mia. Dowd would have spouted Abba lyrics at him, pregnant with significance.
His greatest sin per Dowd? Reckless displays of intellect unbecoming a black man.
She writes: " The senator left his briefing books behind for a rare instance of mingling with his journalism posse at a Berlin restaurant as he sipped a rare "very dry" martini with olives."
"Briefing books," she sniffs, as if to suggest 'only the little people need to know what they're talking about. The Elect just say it (whatever it may be) with natural authority and that's enough.' And then of course, the dig about not sufficiently kissing her ass, the "rare instance of mingling with his journalism posse..."
She goes on: "The Obamanauts were so elated [with the overseas trip] that they didn't even seem to mind the caricature of Obama, ears sticking out, that had been drawn on the round We-Are-The-World Obama logo in the press section. The cartoon candidate demanded: 'Worship me.'"
The press is now drawing horns and a mustache on his image. Then one of them is stupid enough to admit it in print. And they wonder why we think they're adolescent, self-righteous fools.
Dana Milbank goes Dowd one better. He takes the word "Presumptuous," -- today's euphemism for "Uppity Nigger" and slings it with a malicious abandon you'd expect from a bunker-based, confederate-flag draped Red State commenter.
"Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee," he writes.
He ordered up a teleconference with the (current president's) Treasury secretary, granted an audience to the Pakistani prime minister and had his staff arrange for the chairman of the Federal Reserve to give him a briefing.
Note the construction: Obama "granted an audience"... as opposed to the Pakistani prime minister agreeing to meet with him. "Had his staff arrange" for a briefing. In other words, he had "the help" do it when we all know that he should be "the help."
Milbank continues, "Then, he went up to Capitol Hill to be adored by House Democrats in a presidential-style pep rally."
Of the same House Democratic "pep rally," Maureen Dowd wrote:
Some said his reception was not as enthusiastic as the one Hillary got when she returned from her odyssey. The room warmed to him, mainly because he told the lawmakers how much he'd need them to get policies passed if he gets elected.
Same event, opposite takes. Both equally devoid of verifiable fact. Both equally negative.
Milbank then blames Obama for his travel style:
Along the way, he traveled in a bubble more insulating than the actual president's. Traffic was shut down for him as he zoomed about town in a long, presidential-style motorcade, while the public and most of the press were kept in the dark about his activities.
Obama should obviously ignore the security precautions of the Secret Service and hop a bus.
In both Milbank and Dowd, there is the hint of the personal affront. Both their tones suggest that the American political Marquis of Queensbury rules are being broken and both appoint themselves the Keepers of Sacred Tradition. It was the same with the Clintons. They just weren't "one of us." Might there be another Barbarian at the gate? Or, to paraphrase a character from the 1972 film, "The Man," Rod Serling's take on the first black president: 'There may be a jigaboo in the White House.'
Obama is behaving the way any other over-achieving black man behaves (who has not risen due to the condescension of white benefactors). He is preparing ad nauseum for any event, and out-doing his competition at every turn. He is the smartest guy in the room. He displays the results of his brains and preparation.
Attack him for any direct quote or action that suggests he buys his own hype. That's only fair. However, he's now being attacked for doing a better, and more thorough job of running for president than anyone in recent political memory. He's being attacked for being good at his given task.
I once had a white boss in an all-white workplace literally sit me down in his office and say. "You're a very bright guy."
"Thank you," I said.
He paused for too long. Then he said. "You should try to be..." he paused again, obviously uncomfortable, "... a little less. You know what I mean?"
Yes. I knew what he meant.