Frank Rich has a gem of a column in the Sunday New York Times, “How Obama Became Acting President.” Rich shows why he is one of the better hires the ‘newspaper of record’ has yet made. He explains the politics of the moment with perceptive observations, among them:
The growing Obama clout derives not from national polls, where his lead is modest. Nor is it a gift from the press, which still gives free passes to its old bus mate John McCain. It was laughable to watch journalists stamp their feet last week to try to push Mr. Obama into saying he was “wrong” about the surge. More than five years and 4,100 American fatalities later, they’re still not demanding that Mr. McCain admit he was wrong when he assured us that our adventure in Iraq would be fast, produce little American “bloodletting” and “be paid for by the Iraqis.”
After watching a replay of Senator Obama’s Berlin speech (See it here), I wondered “what’s this, an American politician being cheered in Europe? Haven’t seen that for a few decades” Rich nailed the historical meaning more succinctly:
What was most striking about the Obama speech in Berlin was not anything he said so much as the alternative reality it fostered: many American children have never before seen huge crowds turn out abroad to wave American flags instead of burn them.
In stark contrast, Rich illuminates McCain’s ill-fated plan to visit an offshore oil-rig:
The week’s most revealing incident occurred on Wednesday when the new, supposedly improved McCain campaign management finalized its grand plan to counter Mr. Obama’s Berlin speech with a “Mission Accomplished”-like helicopter landing on an oil rig off Louisiana’s coast. The announcement was posted on politico.com even as any American with a television could see that Hurricane Dolly was imminent. Needless to say, this bit of theater was almost immediately “postponed” but not before raising the question of whether a McCain administration would be just as hapless in anticipating the next Katrina as the Bush-Brownie storm watch.
Rich’s column goes on to evoke a palpable sense of dread about what a McCain presidency would feel like, and a tantalizing taste of the alternative. Real pride in our President? What a radical concept.