Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Arrogance, Abroad

What an odd headline Time.com chose to put on this story: "Obama Survives Iraq, Looks Ahead."

Before I get into the substance of the piece, can I just say that the strange, if subliminal, fixation the news media apparently has for the notion that somebody might try to assassinate Obama is in the worst of taste? Not only are they fueling a thriving conspiracy theory with these sorts of headlines--and yes, I know they intended the language to be symbolic, but still!--they're also showing rather plainly that they've cast Obama in the lead part of romantic hero in a story yet to be told--rather as if when these Serious Journalists go home at night, they're writing secret Obama fanfics on the Internet wherein the Great Leader 'o Change dons a cape, dodges bullets, saves the planet from Evil Republicans and global warming, and then flies home to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. It's a little embarrassing, don't you think?

But on to the Time article:
In his first news conference following his trip to Iraq and Afghanistan, presumptive Democratic nominee Barack Obama acknowledged that General David Petraeus had argued in their private meeting against Obama's 16-month timeline for a U.S. troop withdrawal from Iraq. But Obama said that if elected, he would persist with that plan so that additional troops could be sent to Afghanistan, which he again called "the central front in the war against terrorism."

"As commander on the ground, not surprisingly, [Petraeus] wants to retain as much flexibility as possible in terms of accomplishing their goal," Obama said in a 52-min. question-and-answer session atop a mountain overlooking the Jordanian capital. "What I emphasized to him was that if I were in his shoes, I'd probably feel the same way. But my job as a candidate for President and a potential Commander in Chief extends beyond Iraq." Later in the press conference, Obama added, "The notion is that either I do exactly what my military commanders [say] or I'm ignoring their advice. No, I'm factoring in their advice, but placing it in the broader strategic framework that's required."
Let's take a look at that, shall we? Particularly at this sentence:

"But my job as a candidate for President and a potential Commander in Chief extends beyond Iraq."

What, exactly, does that mean?

My job as candidate? As potential Commander in Chief?

Forgive me, but isn't one's job as a candidate for President first and foremost to get elected? And isn't there a whole lot of difference between a "potential" Commander in Chief and an actual general who has lots and lots of practical on-the-ground experience in Iraq?

One would think so, unless one is so besotted by the candidate in question that one is off writing giggling paragraphs about how darn cute he is, and how you think he smiled particularly at you during the press conference. Real, grown-up journalists would have been all over the dripping arrogance and condescension on display here, directed toward a widely-respected, highly-intelligent and much decorated military leader, wouldn't they?

Alas, the cheerleaders at Time.com are far from being alone in this election. And every time it seems like some hard-hitting reporter is going to have a field day with the latest evidence of Obama's rather exalted opinion of himself, we get, instead, another sympathetic puff-piece that carefully avoids saying or doing anything to make their favorite candidate look bad.

Fortunately for those of us who aren't so enamored of the guy, he's starting to do a pretty good job of that all on his own.


MissJean said...

It's good you didn't see his interview with Terry Moran. He actually interrupted Moran's question to throw out the same talking-point, but worse:

"...either I have a rigid timeline of such and such a date, come hell or high water, we’ve gotten our combat troops out, and I am blind to anything that happens in the intervening six months or 16 months. Or, alternatively, I am completely deferring to whatever the commanders on the ground says, which is what George Bush says he’s doing, in which case I’m not doing my job as commander-in-chief.”

Notice he doesn't say "If I BECOME" or "If I WERE commander-in-chief". He thinks he already has the job. :(

nightfly said...

I think that the Times still thinks that Iraq is a lost cause: hence Obama "survived" going there. Riding through East St. Louis with the doors unlocked is probably fifty times more dangerous than an overseas Senatorial junket, but that wouldn't fit the Times' stylebook.

But your Obama fanfic comment is well-taken. Most of the "reporting" on his doings amounts to little else; one could substitute "Obi-Wan" for "Obama" and have a fourth prequel.

nightfly said...

Beg pardon - Time.com, not the Times. My East Coast bias is showing again. =)

Red Cardigan said...

Obi-wan--I love it! Fourth prequel... :)