The Facts Machine

"And I come back to you now, at the turn of the tide"

Sunday, September 21, 2008

Dispatch from Bizarro World

A piece from Associated Press writer Charles Babington, released Saturday:
Obama looks to regain momentum in debate series

For Democrat Barack Obama, the three presidential debates that begin Friday are a chance to halt John McCain's momentum, re-establish his image as a refreshing political force and make his case against a third straight Republican presidential term.

For McCain, they provide an opportunity to reinforce voters' doubts about Obama's experience and readiness, and to demonstrate that he's still on top of his game at age 72.

With polls showing the race tight, and the debates expected to draw millions of TV viewers, they could tip the balance on Nov. 4.
Now I understand that the wire services put out bland "expectations" stories in advance of major events in the campaign (the debates, in this case). But nowhere in this article is there any hint of what has transpired in the past week (the bank failures, the government bailouts, McCain's streak of telling gaffes on the economy, the precipitous decline of Sarah Palin's favorability ratings in the polls, and the steep increase in Obama's standing in the polls vis-a-vis McCain). Surely being in the middle of the largest financial crisis in America in a generation (perhaps longer?) would serve to alter the dynamic of the campaign somewhat?

This article could've been written last week. Hell, it might've been. I'll score this as "lazy" over "mendacious".

Still, the "expectations" tidbits in the article are very telling:
Sen. John Thune, a South Dakota Republican who backs McCain, agrees that Obama carries a heavier burden. Obama has not been on the national stage as long as his opponent, Thune said, and voters have a flimsier grasp of who he is.

"Obama really has to score a punch," Thune said. "He hasn't closed the deal with a lot of American people."

Thune thinks McCain may benefit from low expectations, because Obama is seen as a great orator, a skill that some voters might associate with televised presidential forums even if the comparison is questionable.

Obama's less-than-overwhelming performances against Hillary Rodham Clinton and other Democrats during the primary season showed that the format "was not his strength," Thune said. On the other hand, he said, McCain "is wily, he's effective, he carries questions well," and may exceed many viewers' expectations.
Emphasis mine. Uh, John? I wonder if you have it backwards. Isn't the idea of massaging expectations to scale back those or your own candidate and inflate those of your opponent?

Add that to the phenomenon of Republicans and their ilk frequently mocking Obama for supposedly being teleprompter-dependent, and you wonder if these people have any plan at all.

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