Obama is another false American Idol
Mr Obama is portrayed throughout as an immanently benevolent figure. Not human really, more a comforting presence, a light source. He is always eager to listen to all sides of an argument, always instilling confidence in the weak-willed, resolutely sticking to his high principles, and tirelessly spurning the low road of electoral politics. I stopped reading after a while but I'm sure by the end he was healing the sick, comforting the dying, restoring sight to the blind and setting prisoners free.
The panegyric included the now conventional wisdom in the media that Republicans have only ever won elections in the past 40 years through lies and fearmongering - smearing their opponents and spreading false fears that a vote for a Democrat would open the country to foreign invasion.
To be fair, the Newsweek credo was only the latest and perhaps most shameless phase of the pro-Obama liturgy in the media. Some cable TV channels prostrate themselves nightly before him. Most newspapers worship at the altar. They have already set up a neat narrative for the election between Senator Obama and John McCain in November - the Second Coming versus Old Grouchy, The Little Flower of Illinois up against the Scaremongering Axeman from Arizona.
There's a special irony here. Senator McCain is the Republican who has received probably the single most favourable treatment from the media in the past 40 years. He has been a favourite because he conformed to the first law of contemporary political journalism: the only good conservative is a bad conservative. His willingness to defy his party on everything from taxes to global warming, to take on George Bush, has earned him at least an honourable mention in the martyrology of American politics of the last 40 years.
But now that he's up against Oh! Bama! he will have to be recast in the more familiar Republican mould of villain and scaremonger-in-chief.
This media narrative is not only an outgrowth of the journalists' natural enthusiasm for a Democrat such as Mr Obama. It is a clever ploy to pre-emptively de-legitimise any Republican critique of the Democratic nominee. It is designed to prevent Mr McCain from asking reasonable questions about Mr Obama's strikingly vacuous political background, or raising doubts about his credentials for the presidency.
The idolatry of Mr Obama is a shame, really. The Illinois senator is indeed, an unusually talented, inspiring and charismatic figure. His very ethnicity offers an exciting departure. But he is not a saint. He is a smart and eloquent man with a personal history that is startlingly shallow set against the scale of the office he seeks to hold. It is not only legitimate, but necessary, to scrutinise his past and infer what it might tell us about his beliefs, in the absence of the normal record of achievement expected in a presidential nominee.
If the last 40 years have taught us anything they have surely taught that premature canonisation is an almost certain guarantee of subsequent deep disappointment.
Crossposted at Sayanythingblog.com