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18 September 2008 Blog Home : September 2008 : Permalink

FT ♥ Obama

The love affair the Economist has had with the US Democratic party, EU bureaucrats and trans-national progressives in general has been commented on for a while now. Samizdata, for example, pointed out a couple of anti-McCain and anti-Palin ones and there have been many others. Not at all to my surprise I noted that the Economist's Pearson stablemate the FT seems similarly biased in a pro-Obama/anti-McCain line. Take today's US election round up which I have screen-capped and reproduced below:
FT US election coverage
Note how many news articles and editorials overwhelmingly tilt one way:
Obama promises Wall Street reform

Barack Obama promised an end to the “anything goes” culture on Wall Street as the deepening financial crisis added fresh impetus to his fight back against John McCain - Sep 17 2008
Obama Positive
The end of McCain’s media honeymoon

Tighter control leads to more aggressive style - Sep 17 2008
McCain negative
Criticism as Obama reaches for the stars

Public fund gamble may not pay off - Sep 17 2008
Obama negative
Turmoil presents opening for Obama

Allegations McCain is out of touch - Sep 17 2008
Obama positive, McCain negative
Campaigns focus on US economy

Poll rivals vow to tighten financial regulation - Sep 15 2008
In the editorial part things aren't so bad at first sight, Things are more even hander, perhaps because of Clive Crook. He wrote a while back about how off-putting the democratic/media/blogger alliance agains Sarah Palin was and he repeated this criticism suggesting that it is quite possibly going to lead to a McCain victory earlier this week.

Certainly, the Democrats can see they are in a hole. Somehow, though, the word has gone out: “Keep digging.” Mr Obama is also urged to be less cool and lose his temper. Voters adore an angry candidate, you see. “Dig faster, and be more angry,” is the advice coming down from the political geniuses who decided it was a fine idea to laugh at Ms Palin in the first place. A recurring television image in the past few days has been the split-screen contrast between a serenely smiling Republican operative and a fulminating red-faced Democrat about to have a stroke.

Efforts to smear the governor proceed at a frantic pace. My guess would be that there are now more journalists on assignment in Alaska than bothered to turn up for the Republican convention in St Paul, sifting through dustbins, interrogating Palin family acquaintances (extra credit for those with a grievance) and subjecting Ms Palin’s expenses claims to a fanatical scrutiny which I dare say their own record-keeping, or that of most senators, might not withstand.

Of course, they will find things. They may even find something important. But the sheer swarming zeal for trivial malfeasance and family embarrassments is rapidly raising the bar for impropriety. I think that many voters – and not just committed Republicans – find this whole spectacle disgusting, so on top of everything else Ms Palin is now getting a sympathy vote.

However this is countered by Jurek Martin who ought to be awarded an OBN (Order of the Brown Nose) by the Obama campaign for this piece of tripe which is pretty much a perfect example of what Mr Crook finds objectionable. In fact it is so filled with half-truths and bias it deserves a good fisking and I'm only too happy to oblige:

Obama and the conservative backlash against Palin

It would be logical to conclude that one benefit of the horrors on Wall Street would be to force those running for president finally to get around to talking about serious issues, not least the parlous state of the nation’s economy

Nice start. I guess Mr Martin may have pontificated slightly prematurely as the BBC reports that both candidates spent a lot of time yesterday on that subject.

I am not sure this follows. After 9/11, logic dictated the US should pursue more multilateral foreign policies, but the reverse was the case. In the current political climate, one campaign, John McCain’s, may see no reason to get on to the high policy road, while the other, Barack Obama’s, cannot find the road map to it.

Ohh equal opportunity snark. I like it! Although surely claiming that Obama can't navigate is RACIST? no?

Initial responses to last weekend’s calamitous events are not encouraging. The Republican candidate continued to wrap himself in the mantra that the American economy is “strong,” even as it leaks from all its financial seams. But, then, in his long-gone honest moments, he used to admit that economics were not his strong suit.

Given that the chaos appears to be caused by bad loans made to homeowners by a bunch of banks who are now paying for them by an inability to get repayments of the loans they shouldn't have made, McCain's statement is not completely wrong. Assuming the fallout remains lmited to a bunch of suits on Wall St then outside New York the economy should remain OK.

Moreover, his assurances that a proven reformer like himself, coupled with another of same ilk, Sarah Palin, constitute just the team to clean up Washington, ring hollow in light of the fact that he has been a longstanding member of the very flawed Washington regulatory establishment. Moreover, his running mate, on all available evidence, would not know how to find credit drefault swaps in the aisle of her Wasilla WalMart.

Ok this is where Mr Martin goes into full Obama-chanelling mode. There is plenty of evidence that having got involved with Charles Keating, McCain learned a number of lessons about the dangers of lobbying and of bankers. This would be why he sounded warning notes regarding Freddie and Fannie in 2002 and 2005. Also, while I think McCain Feingold is a horrible bit of legislation, the clear aim of it was to reform the lobbyist culture of Congress. Is Mr Martin seriously suggesting that reform is only possible from outside?

Now there is the sneer at Governor Palin which can be read as either disgustingly, patronizingly sexist - "poor little woman, can't handle stuff not sold in supermarkets and lets her husband balance the check book and make the big ticket purchases" or classic sophisticated urban elistist sneering at the rural hicks (or both). But ignoring the condescension and moving onto the thin substance; apart from the fact that credit debit swaps are not offered in Walmarts (except, arguably, at the cash till) it must be noted that gas pipelines and ethics reforms are also not offered for sale in Walmart but Governor Palin managed to push both through the Alaska legislature just fine.

For his part, Mr Obama, with his sophisticated mind, might be able to do better than simply to continue to tie Mr McCain to the failed policies of the Bush administration. Americans, not unreasonably, like to think that those who seek to govern them have some plans to extricate the nation from messes, be they in Iraq or the financial markets, rather than dwell on an admittedly awful recent past.

Uh huh. Obama is sophisticated and intellectual unlike the dumb rebpulicans. That's nice. By the way, Obama's plans to extricate the US from the mess in Iraq seem likely to have precipitated a major humanitarian disaster there. McCain's (the surge) seems to have dramatically improved things.

But this is what happens when campaigns are locked into their own perceptions of what is working for them. And for Mr McCain, a seat-of-the-pants pilot who is not a strategic thinker by a very long chalk, he just has to look at the evidence of the latest polls, which tell him that just presenting himself as he is, seems to be good political medicine.

I'd say that McCain's campaign has been strategically sound - as evidenced by those polls.

It is not necessary to dwell on the cynicism of his choice of Ms Palin as a running mate or on the outright lies that are the underpinnings of their campaign. Even a timid US media is summoning up what remains of its courage to pick holes and find contradictions in every respect of Ms Palin’s record, as it might have done from the outset had they ever heard of her before the Republican convention.

Allow me to translate: It is not necessary to dwell on how shocked me and my democratic leaning MSM friends were when McCain decided to come out fighting instead of doing a Bob Dole gallant loser thing, Of ocurse when we were presented with some hick like Governor Palin we immediately spared no effort to turn over even the smallest pebble in Wasilla, unfortunately so far we have yet to find any mud that will stick, but never fear we'll keep trying.

More noteworthy is the extent to which the establishment conservative commentariat, Charles Krauthammer, George Will and now David Brooks of the New York Times, are turning on Ms Palin. They appear insulted by what even they concede is her total lack of qualifications for the vice presidency, much as they were by the president’s abortive nomination of his tame and completely undistinguished in-house legal counsel, Harriet Miers, for the Supreme Court, two years back.

The "establishment conservative commentariat" is limited to three people who write for the WaPo and NYT most of the time? really? I think this means the "conservatives that my liberal friends invite around for aperitifs because we trust them not to spout off about Ronald Reagan" or something like that. And they are upset? As compared to all those liberal commentators who were insulted about Obama's "total lack of qualifications for the vice presidency"? Just asking you know, but I'll note that Krauthammer for one seems to be coming around to a pro-Palin POV as he sees more of her.

But they are not necessarily the dominant voices of conservativism any longer, drowned out by more visceral rightwing populists, in print and electronic media, who take delight in the fact the party base has finally been energised in this election by Ms Palin. The fact that this base is not big enough any longer to win a general election is immaterial, compared to the delights of discomfiting and unnerving the Democrats, who have reacted, true to form, by sinking into their traditional state of funk.

Yes I think my translation above is accurate regarding "establishment conservative commentariat". I'm not sure that W Kristol, M Barone, J Goldberg and half a dozen others are not equally establishment these days though they do seem to be pro Palin. Still moving on. "The fact that this base is not big enough any longer to win a general election is immaterial" is a moronic statement. The base is not enough of course, everyone knows that and it applys equally to the Democratic nutroots base too, but energising the base means that McCain get run a more successful grassroots get out the vote campaign than otherwise. Finally I have to admit that the Democrats have indeed sunk into their traditional state of funk so he's right there even if the rest of the last few paragraphs has been total bilge.

This manifests itself in all sorts of ways, not least through desperate communications though the internet. But the one person who appears above all this angst is Barack Obama, either admirably or to his cost. Much as pundits and consultants urge him to get into the gutter with the Republicans, which is what electoral politics are supposedly all about, he refuses to do it.

As Matthew Dowd, once a Bush strategist, put it to the New York Times, if Mr McCain drags Mr Obama into the mud, it is to his advantage; if he flies at 10,000 feet, he has no advantage.

This is interesting because whereas Mr McCain, reputedly his own man, has fallen under the spell of practitioners of the darker political arts, the Democratic candidate still sets the tone for his campaign, all his party alchemists notwithstanding. If he says the Palin family is off limits, then it remains so.

Glad to see the accuracy disappears again. Barack Obama is above all the angst? that's why he tells lame lipstick jokes I suppose. And why he launches Hispanic attack ads that wilfully a) misquote Rush Limbaugh and b) imply that McCain supported Mr Limbaugh's position. As for Mr Dowd, he is correct in that Obama has yet to face the sort of public scrutiny awarded to, say, Governor Palin.  And it has to be said that the claim that "if  [Obama] says the Palin family is off limits, then it remains so" appears to be somewhat wistful, True there have been no campaign ads regarding the Palin family but then there have hardly needed to be given all the rubbish dug up by progressive bloggers and their MSM pals.

He had not even, at the time of writing, pointed out that John Thain of Merrill Lynch, no longer the Thundering Herd but one of Bank of America’s herd of cows, has not only been a fervent supporter of Mr McCain but had openly hoped for a senior policy job in the next Republican administration (not that he would now win Senate confirmation).

It is just possible that Mr Obama’s reticence may come over as a lack of toughness when matched against the McCain-Palin ticket of tough guys and gun-toting gals, to whom truth is just another five letter word? A few concise policy proposals on the financial debacle might remove that impression, as would substantive performances in the upcoming, and ever more important, presidential debates.

Dare one point out to Mr Martin that one reason why Obama is not mentioning John Thain's support of McCain is that it would immediately invite people to look at who supports Obama. People such as those wonderful leaders of Fannie Mae, Franklin Raines and Jim Johnson. I hope that Obama does indeed bring up mr Thain because it will undoubtedly turn out to be yet another rebounding smear.

That is the end of the article. I know that usually it isn't the journalist who comes up with the title but really the "conservative backlash" appears to be three "establishment conservatives" and about a third of the article is how McCain is in bed with Kkkarl Rove or someone like him. All in all the whole piece is unworthy of being published in a serious newspaper.