First we have some criticism by John McCain:
McCain also sought to turn Obama's trip against him, suggesting it was a slight to U.S. voters.And then Barack Obama strikes back:
"With all the breathless coverage from abroad, and with Senator Obama now addressing his speeches to 'the people of the world,' I'm starting to feel a little left out. Maybe you are too," the Arizona senator said in a Saturday radio address. [...]
Obama told the journalists McCain had visited Mexico, Colombia and Canada recently.Where to begin?
"I was puzzled by this notion that somehow what we were doing was in any way different from what Senator McCain or a lot of presidential candidates have done in the past. Now, I admit we did it really well," he said.
"But that shouldn't be a strike against me. You know, if I was bumbling and fumbling through this thing, I would have been criticized for that," he said.
In the first place, sure, some presidential candidates have visited foreign countries. Few have done so overtly as part of a campaign, though, addressing campaign speeches to people who can't actually vote for one.
In the second place, do you notice that Obama seems to think he's being criticized mainly for doing well? How odd is that? And then the justification--well, if I'd done a bad job I'd be the target of critics, too.
Obama seems not to notice that the reason he's being criticized at all has nothing to do with how "well" or how "badly" he campaigned in foreign countries, but that he is being criticized because he campaigned in foreign countries! As I said earlier, the only reason a candidate could possibly justify spending an important week abroad is because he either believes, or wishes to create the illusion, that he's already won the domestic election, that nothing remains but the formality of the actual vote.
And that takes a certain amount of--I almost said "audacity," but I'm getting a little tired of that word. We'll call it "bravado," instead--the persistent attempt to reframe the narrative so that the voters of this country are swept up in the tide of the story, and can't quite bring themselves to spoil the heroic and significant and quasi-messianic ending.
Obama knows, I believe, just how scripted and artificial this whole thing is. So the take-away line has to be, "We did it really well," not "We left people wondering what we were doing abroad in the first place," or "We gave lackluster speeches in front of historic settings we had no right to use as backdrops in the least." Let either, or both, of those ideas form the conclusion of even the slightest majority of American voters, and the whole dazzling hollow artifice comes crumbling down, like the airy nonsense of which it is constructed.