Entry from July 31, 2008

Like pretty much everybody else — apparently including Barack Obama himself — I’m assuming that the coming Obama presidency can be treated as a foregone conclusion, something just a little bit less inevitable than tomorrow morning’s sunrise or the media’s eventually turning on their darling. But if in spite of all reasonable forecasting we are spared what is sure to be a disastrous return to a McGovern-Carter style, “one-world” progressivism, we may look back on this week as the turning point in the campaign. For there are suddenly small but unmistakable signs that the media, hitherto just about as utterly enraptured with the Obama candidacy as it is possible to imagine, may not wait until their man is elected before turning on him.

It was, perhaps, no big deal that Gerard Baker published his satirical column, “He ventured forth to bring light to the world,” in The Times of London last Friday.

And it came to pass, in the eighth year of the reign of the evil Bush the Younger (The Ignorant), when the whole land from the Arabian desert to the shores of the Great Lakes had been laid barren, that a Child appeared in the wilderness. The Child was blessed in looks and intellect. Scion of a simple family, offspring of a miraculous union, grandson of a typical white person and an African peasant. And yea, as he grew, the Child walked in the path of righteousness, with only the occasional detour into the odd weed and a little blow. . .

And so forth. Mr Baker is a (sort of) conservative columnist and, anyway, he is a foreigner with the celebrated British qualities of “irony” and “cynicism” to explain him. But even here and there in the American media there are notes of skepticism Today in The Washington Post, for example, David Montgomery pays what sounds like a rueful compliment to the McCain forces for referring to their opponent as “The One” — an allusion to the sci-fi mysticism of the Wachowski brothers’ Matrix trilogy. “It”s a sendup,” Mr Montgomery helpfully explains, “of the messianic devotion the Obamanauts sometimes display — the huge crowds, the tears, the soaring hopes, the rapturous chanting of ‘O-ba-ma!’ and ‘Yes we can!’ Ha-ha. Next, Obama”s going to don a full-length black coat, like Keanu Reeves”s Neo in the 1999 film, and start jumping really high in the process of saving mankind.”

But perhaps the most significant of these straws in the wind is that Dana Milbank, the insufferably snarky columnist for the Post whose daily sneers at President Bush and any member of his administration who pokes his head above the parapet, has finally turned his satirical death-ray on the Savior himself. True, he seems to have turned the power down to “stun,” but it is still a, well, stunning development when even someone as naturally hostile to Republicans and otherwise in tune with Obamania as Mr Milbank ventures a criticism of The One. Nor is he the only one. “There are signs that the Obama campaign”s arrogance has begun to anger reporters,” Mr Milbank wrote yesterday in a column snarkily headed: “President Obama Continues Hectic Victory Tour.” Anyway, the most telling of these signs has got to be that it has started to anger himself. “Barack Obama has long been his party”s presumptive nominee,” Mr Milbank wrote “Now he”s becoming its presumptuous nominee.”

Ouch! What has inspired the columnist, apparently, is that in a closed door meeting with House Democrats where you might expect that candor and fraternal bonhomie would be the order of the day, the Chosen One is reported to have said: “This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for. . .I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions.” You can see how this might have been a tad off-putting to the collegial spirit of his fellow Democratic law-makers, but the media have shown few signs of being bothered by that kind of thing before. Now, Mr Milbank concludes that, “As he marches toward Inauguration Day (Election Day is but a milestone on that path), Obama”s biggest challenger may not be Republican John McCain but rather his own hubris.”

It would be nice to think that there are others among the Bush haters who are beginning to be uneasy at the prospect of an Obama presidency, but it is hard to imagine them deserting someone so naturally to their liking in every other way as Senator Obama in order to support Senator McCain. We natural skeptics just have to wait for the day, approximately a year from now, when the media culture as a whole darts off in the opposite direction like a frightened shoal of fish. Will they then remember their loud and long complaints that President Bush supposedly thought he could talk to God? I wonder how they’ll react when they realize, as it is becoming more and more apparent, that their guy, Obama, thinks he is God.


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