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Tilting at Windmills

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July 30, 2008
By: Kevin Drum

PAGING MAUREEN DOWD....I saw this Dana Milbank piece last night but didn't bother commenting because it was late and life is too short. Milbank occasionally does good work, but basically he's ruined himself by his relentless quest to turn himself into the Washington Post's Maureen Dowd, and this piece was right in the Dowdian strike zone: snotty, too clever by half, and self-consciously bursting with adolescent cynical detachment. If Dowd were the only person who wrote this stuff it would be bad enough, but the fact that she's influenced a whole generation of wannabes is what really makes her style so malign.

At any rate, it turns out that Milbank's piece is not only snotty, too clever by half, and self-consciously bursting with adolescent cynical detachment, it's also wrong. Milbank Dowdified his Obama quote because it was the only way to get it to fit his storyline. In a bizarre and karmic way, I guess that's appropriate.

Kevin Drum 12:06 PM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (77)

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What astonished me was how late Milbank was to the "presumptuous" party - after all, it's been a GOP talking point for a couple of weeks. But boy, did he make up for lost time in jumping on the Republican noise machine.

Posted by: jim on July 30, 2008 at 12:20 PM | PERMALINK

So, repeat "arrogant" and "Obama" in the same sentence a zillion times on cable gabfests and in columns. Then poll on the question and talk about the poll because "it's out there." (Digby's "Cokie's Rule")

The, voila! Al Gore invented the Internet all over again! Exceept about something totally subjective (much like Bush's vaunted "likability) rather than something objective that can be disproven.

God, I hate our media.

Posted by: riffle on July 30, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

All the vagina dentata envy in the world won't make Milbank as famous as MoDo. Pity; he used to be a good and gutsy reporter.

Posted by: penalcolony on July 30, 2008 at 12:24 PM | PERMALINK

While you're right about the general tone of the piece and the fact that Milbank is playing way too fast and loose with the facts to fit his storyline (you forgot to mention that contra Milbank's article, McCain also is preparing a transition team, as both of them should), I would hope that to a certain degree Obama and the Obama campaign are prudent enough to take this as a warning signal that this is about to become the CW and to adjust accordingly. After all, like it or hate it, Milbank's article is really just a condensation of a lot of this sentiment floating around right now about Obama's "presumptuousness". And like it or hate it, the public is particularly susceptible to be swayed that sort of sentiment.

Posted by: Robb on July 30, 2008 at 12:25 PM | PERMALINK

it turns out that Milbank's piece is not only snotty, too clever by half, and self-consciously bursting with adolescent cynical detachment, it's also wrong.

Egads! Milbank's emulation of MoDo is complete!

Posted by: Gregory on July 30, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

My favorite part: "Another reason for Obama's confidence -- the press"

Irony much?

Milbank hammers away at how presidential Obama has been acting. Maybe it only seems presidential in comparison to the current buffoon who inhabits the White House.

Posted by: Everyman on July 30, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

The Capitol Police and the Secret Service, not the Obama campaign, closed the halls for Obama to pass yesterday. If you're inclined to think Obama presumptuous for this, then John McCain is also on your list; last week in Columbus, the police department there gave him full intersection control during rush hour. Oh, and that was David Cameron to whom Obama "gave some management advice," not to Gordon Brown, although Brown could probably have used it!
- Marc Ambinder
.

Posted by: Grand Moff Texan on July 30, 2008 at 12:26 PM | PERMALINK

I would hope that to a certain degree Obama and the Obama campaign are prudent enough to take this as a warning signal that this is about to become the CW and to adjust accordingly.

The Obama campaign should blow the whistle on the dog whistle: "Today Dana Milbank called Senator Obama uppity. That kind of talk was supposed to have gone out with segregation."

Every time the Republican propaganda machine and the mainstream media -- but I repeat myself -- plays the "presumptuous" card, fire back that they're calling Obama uppity.

Posted by: Gregory on July 30, 2008 at 12:30 PM | PERMALINK

Robb wrote: "I would hope that to a certain degree Obama and the Obama campaign are prudent enough to take this as a warning signal ..."

Given the corporate-owned mass media's vile and reprehensible campaigns of character assassination against Al Gore in 2000 and John Kerry in 2004, I would hope that Obama and the Obama campaign saw this sort of thing coming a long time ago and are not at this late date in need of "warning signals" that the same thing (and much worse) is in store for Obama.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 30, 2008 at 12:31 PM | PERMALINK

What, exactly, is karmic about this, when it's clear to me Milbank won't be in any way penalized for this -- if anything, he'll be rewarded -- and Obama will have to run around trying to plug a (metaphoric) leak based completely on a falsehood? As somewhat noted above, this is Love Story/Internet all over again, and it's the sole method McCain has for turning campaign coverage in his favor. After all this time, Kevin Drum, do you truly not grasp the danger in this?

Posted by: demtom on July 30, 2008 at 12:34 PM | PERMALINK

Shorter Milbank. "That boy Obama sure is uppity. The "good" people of Washington need to take him down a peg."

I am sick to death of the Milbank's blatant racism. You can almost smell the foul stench of Karl Rove in the piece.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 30, 2008 at 12:36 PM | PERMALINK

Presumptuous is the new uppity. Tell all your friends.

Posted by: crash on July 30, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Shallow snark alert.

In addition to his significant journalistic sins, Milbanks's obsessively frequent and very bad dye jobs annoy greatly.

Posted by: shortstop on July 30, 2008 at 12:43 PM | PERMALINK

What's clear is that despite Obama's aversion to nearly everything that one associates with the political left, the corporate ruling class still fears what his administration might do.

It is important to keep in mind that the ruling class does not fear the economic disasters that threaten, nor the foreign policy problems. The former tend to solidify their hold on the country and they make money off the latter.

The 'leadership' of the congressional Democrats is firmly in hand; they have nothing to fear from larger Democratic majorities in the House or Senate.

They are not going to let anyone they don't own into the White House.

Posted by: James E. Powell on July 30, 2008 at 12:52 PM | PERMALINK

The only thing more "presumptuous" are the members of the damn press.

Obama is making me mad? I'm personally going to take it out of his hide.

Inside, according to a witness, he told the House members, "This is the moment . . . that the world is waiting for," adding: "I have become a symbol of the possibility of America returning to our best traditions."

Or we could vote for McCain, and the world write us off, because they can't do business with greedy Republicans who want to bomb there way into business deals, so the only quantitative thing to do, even in the business world, is vote for Obama.

Somehow, even as some business people say that McCain is better for the market, actually know that Obama is really the only answer to what ails Wall Street. A continuation of Bush is simply going to break the US banks with ongoing Repug special interest only policies.

A vote for McCain is a vote for US economic ruin.

Posted by: Independent Perspective on July 30, 2008 at 12:55 PM | PERMALINK

Shallow snark alert.

No need - this is the internet after all.

In addition to his significant journalistic sins, Milbanks's obsessively frequent and very bad dye jobs annoy greatly.

Yeah, and his first name is 'Dana,' a girl's name!

That guy is one prissy missy!

Posted by: Tripp on July 30, 2008 at 12:59 PM | PERMALINK

Milbank is such a bitch! Maybe if Obama compliments his shoes he will swoon and retract his claws the way MoDo did.

Posted by: skeptic on July 30, 2008 at 1:12 PM | PERMALINK

The closest parallel I can think of toMilbank's column and dishonest quote is when Gore was accused of taking credit for "discovering" love canal and was quoted as saying "I was the one that started it all".

As we all know, his anecdote was really giving credit for starting the ball rolling to a teenager and the correct quote was "That was the one that started it all...We made a huge difference and it was all because one high school student got involved."

Here we have Obama saying that it is all about America and it gets twisted into being all about himself.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 30, 2008 at 1:25 PM | PERMALINK

Milbank may be a lying pile of dog vomit but I would SO do MoDo in a heartbeat!

Posted by: Fred Flintrock on July 30, 2008 at 1:30 PM | PERMALINK

I think what is starting to become obvious is that it is very hard to attack a campaign which is not based upon sound bites.

Sound bites are otherwise known as "substance". When the McCain campaign complains that Obama doesn't offer substance, they are talking about things like the gas tax holiday, offshore drilling, kicking Russia out of the G-8, the surge is succeeding, it has succeeded, we are winning in Iraq, "I know how to win wars", etc.

Posted by: tomj on July 30, 2008 at 1:39 PM | PERMALINK

Here we have Obama saying that it is all about America and it gets twisted into being all about himself.
Posted by: tanstaafl on July 30, 2008 at 1:25 PM

Well, duh, Masta Dana Milbank couldn't have rit such a fine article about that "presumptious" boy if he had told the truth.

I am so up to here with the racism in this story line I can't barely remain calm.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 30, 2008 at 1:40 PM | PERMALINK

Milbank skewers the left and right with equal impunity. And mostly what he focuses on is the absolute laughability of politicians politicking.

I haven't seen the posters here complain when he has skewered the right, or dems other than Obama, with misquotes. Why the sudden outrage?

Suck it up. We are in an election cycle.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 30, 2008 at 1:44 PM | PERMALINK

Optical Weenie,

His entire article is based on a blatant misquote. Without it he didn't have anything to say. You might follow Kevin's link.

By the way, in the future you might point out Milbank's similar misquotes of other politicians. We will be similarly outraged. There is no place for out and out lying in journalism.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 30, 2008 at 1:51 PM | PERMALINK

Somebody didn't get invited to the prom!

Ooh, ooh, let's get the captain of the football team to invite Dana, and then we can rig the vote so Dana is elected homecoming queen, and then we can dump pig's blood on her head. That would be sooo cool.

Posted by: Steven King on July 30, 2008 at 2:00 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie 1:44 p.m.: "I... mostly... (s)uck."

Funny thing about selective quoting.

Posted by: junebug on July 30, 2008 at 2:12 PM | PERMALINK

optical weenie wrote: "I haven't seen the posters here complain when he has skewered the right, or dems other than Obama, with misquotes."

Please give an example of Milbank, or any other highly-paid employee of a large media corporation, "skewering" John McCain with a misquote.

(The numerous examples of the corporate media protecting John McCain by "misquoting" him to cover up his ignorant demented ramblings don't count.)

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 30, 2008 at 2:20 PM | PERMALINK

after stewing about this for a few hours, i sent an email to millbank that made many of the points made here, in reasonably polite terms (i mean, how polite can you phrase "just go ahead and use the term uppity why don't you?").

it didn't fix a thing but it made me feel a little better, and i suggest it to every poster here (and 5 of their friends). i'd love to read that millbank's inbox was overflowering with denunciations of his foolishness.

you can use the post form on this page to write to him; i'd suggest using "presumptuous" as the "subject of your mesage:"

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/dana+milbank/

Posted by: howard on July 30, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

in comparison to the current buffoon who inhabits the White House.

Read this as "baboon" initially. I apologize to our nonhuman primates for the error.

Posted by: ckelly on July 30, 2008 at 2:31 PM | PERMALINK

pealcolony wrote at 12:24pm Pity; he used to be a good and gutsy reporter.

Well you can argue the "good" reporter issue, but seems to me that going against the media-popular Barama positive press coverage AND writing a negative Barama piece for the Washington Post, would suggest he is being "gutsy".

Posted by: pencarrow on July 30, 2008 at 2:32 PM | PERMALINK

And, just for the record, optical weenie, I have always thought Milbank was a worthless piece of slime. His whole "Politics is silly/Let's make fun of all equally, because it's all meaningless" is precisely the Heather-ish approach that professed to see no difference between Bush and Gore, and got us into this hellacious position to begin with.

Has anyone noted that the people most likely to actually base their voting on "Forget substance, it's all who I'd want to have a beer with" are members of the Beltway press corps?

Posted by: demtom on July 30, 2008 at 2:35 PM | PERMALINK

Ron, Junebug et al.,
I read the Milbank article prior to seeing Kevin's post on it. I just had a good laugh. Just like I do when I read MoDo. I don't take anything he write seriously, just like I don't take anything MoDo write seriously.
Milbank and MoDo write for the village idiots. And basically what they are telling us is what the village idiots are all worked up about at the moment. So what to get out of Milbank today? Presumptuous will be the highlight of the Republican talking points memos for the rest of the week, and will be most_serious_topic for the Sunday morning pundits.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 30, 2008 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

The last time the chattering class was this unanimous on a close election they were convinced it was Dewey's time to reform the new deal... I said before the Seig Heils were over in Berlin that voters in Ohio or New Hampshire or Colorado don't like this kind of preening. I want Obama to win as much as anyone in this forum, but I have a bad feeling about the kind of thing Milbank is pointing out, and killing the messenger is not going to cure it.

Posted by: loki on July 30, 2008 at 2:50 PM | PERMALINK

Doctoring quotes is so old hat. He has got to start using way more old movie references and silly nicknames before he is qualified to wear Dowd's high heels.

Posted by: Mo MoDo on July 30, 2008 at 2:53 PM | PERMALINK

We'll take that to mean you have zero supportive evidence for your assertion that Milbank has "skewered" other politicians by basing entire columns on flagrant misquotes, weenie. I know everyone is as stunned as I that you would post petulantly without engaging your brain and then discover you can't back yourself up.

Posted by: shortstop on July 30, 2008 at 3:08 PM | PERMALINK

Milbank and MoDo write for the village idiots. And basically what they are telling us is what the village idiots are all worked up about at the moment.

I see. Milbank wasn't saying that Obama is presumptuous -- he was merely pointing out that it's the village idiots who think that Obama is presumptuous. This is all just a big misunderstanding.

So what to get out of Milbank today? Presumptuous will be the highlight of the Republican talking points memos for the rest of the week, and will be most_serious_topic for the Sunday morning pundits.

And the circle is complete. If only those silly Republicans & Sunday morning pundits understood that the whole thing was just satire!

Posted by: junebug on July 30, 2008 at 3:12 PM | PERMALINK

Loki,

I have a bad feeling

Shouldn't your name be Hœnir, the Norse God of Doubt? I think you've got your mythology mixed up, you shape-shifter you.

Posted by: Tripp on July 30, 2008 at 3:19 PM | PERMALINK

The WaPo and Mr. Milbank shilled for the Iraq War. Everyone knows and remembers this. 45% of the US population opposed it, 57% of Democrats in Congress opposed it, but our major newspapers (NYT, WaPo, LAT) treated the anti-war position as fringe. (This is provable, but not in a comment). This was almost without exception.

Maybe the writers, editors, owners, and who they see as their important consumers, are straight-up neo-cons and "liberal hawks". If 90% of them are liberal hawks, and this particular political orientation is almost non-existent in the larger US population, that might explain the perceived bias. Or there's the corporate, profit angle, like SecularAnimist describes.

Whatever the explanation, WaPo and NYT should be written off as objective sources.

Posted by: flubber on July 30, 2008 at 3:31 PM | PERMALINK

howard's post was the one I was going to write, after writing to the WaPo, so I'll just blockquote him:

after stewing about this for a few hours, i sent an email to millbank that made many of the points made here, in reasonably polite terms (i mean, how polite can you phrase "just go ahead and use the term uppity why don't you?").

it didn't fix a thing but it made me feel a little better, and i suggest it to every poster here (and 5 of their friends). i'd love to read that millbank's inbox was overflowering with denunciations of his foolishness.

you can use the post form on this page to write to him; i'd suggest using "presumptuous" as the "subject of your mesage:"

http://projects.washingtonpost.com/staff/email/dana+milbank/


And I had precisely Kevin's reaction too to Milbank's latest. And the cheap MoDo trick of snarky word elisions: presumptive > presumptuous.

It's sad. Milbank has been funny and smart in the past--I remember fondly the day he showed up on KO in orange hunting gear after Cheney shot his hunting partner in the face.

The dilemma is, for these snidemeisters, what attitude do you cop with a charismatic frontrunner like Obama? Seems like the Village gang had settled on the slam of the week with presumptuous.

We'll know for sure pretty soon. I'll bet David Gregory trots out the latest canard on his Race for the White House segment.

Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 3:38 PM | PERMALINK

Since some of you can’t understand why anyone would criticize Obama, maybe this sentence in Milbank’s column is a clue:

But there are signs that the Obama campaign's arrogance has begun to anger reporters.

One example given of their arrogance is not letting a reporter from The New Yorker onboard his overseas trip in retaliation for the Obama cover cartoon. What Milbank doesn’t say is that the reporter banned from the trip was Ryan Lizza, who wrote a long, thoughtful, and detailed article, with many quotes from people close to Obama, in that same issue of The New Yorker, about Obama’s early political career in Chicago.

I would think that anyone who really cares about Obama’s future would see this petty gesture by him (or his staff) as a big mistake. I think that Milbank is sending him a message.

Posted by: emmarose on July 30, 2008 at 3:49 PM | PERMALINK

Although I feel a little bit like shish kebab on a skewer, I'm not gonna back down. Milbank is just telling the Obama campaign that presumptuous is the line of the week.

It's up to the Obama campaign, and the liberal talking heads to figure how to fight back on that. Screaming that presumptuous = uppity is not the way. I would think that saying that Obama is taking his potential for being elected
president seriously, and is working very hard to come up to speed on ALL the issues. That is why he met with the Pakistani PM, convened with the nation's top financial experts, etc., etc., etc.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 30, 2008 at 4:01 PM | PERMALINK

emmarose, now that's just plain silly. Here's what you wrote:

One example given of their arrogance is not letting a reporter from The New Yorker onboard his overseas trip in retaliation for the Obama cover cartoon. What Milbank doesn't say is that the reporter banned from the trip was Ryan Lizza, who wrote a long, thoughtful, and detailed article, with many quotes from people close to Obama, in that same issue of The New Yorker, about Obama's early political career in Chicago.

Indulge me: where has it been established that the Obama campaign (in your words) banned either Lizza (who did in fact write a very thoughtful New Yorker piece on Obama) or the New Yorker? The suggestion was repudiated by the campaign and as far as I know exists only as a low-level whisper campaign with a few hardy and malicious whisperers, for some reason, persisting.

For you to repeat this right-wing canard (and to employ the arrogance charge again) here is irresponsible and sloppy--and malicious. Cut it out.

Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 4:11 PM | PERMALINK
I think that Milbank is sending him a message.

I don't necessarily disagree with your take (in fact, you're probably on the right track), but I'm not so sure a columnist using a bogus quote in order to carry out some petty vendetta really helps their cause.

In fact, it makes the media look like untrustworthy brats who would feel more at home in a middle school lunchroom than in an intelligent discussion of public policy.

No wonder this country is so screwed up ...

Posted by: Mark D on July 30, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

emmarose

You realize that you are saying Ryan Lizza isn't capable of taking care of himself. Taking care of Ryan Lizza isn't Dana Milbank's job.

Sheesh! Are you what is ordinarily called a concern troll or are you little Ryan Lizza himself?

By the way I read Lizza's piece. It was good. Too bad New Yorker's cover editor let Lizza down.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 30, 2008 at 4:13 PM | PERMALINK

I would refer y'all to Kevin's orginal post.

didn't bother commenting because ... life is too short.

I've never read this Milbank and, having read this article to see what the firestorm was about, I know why. Getting upset at this "writer" is like getting upset at the idiot that cuts you off in traffic and then takes a minute from chatting on the cell phone to flip you the bird.

IMO it's a bit over the top to equate "presumptuous" with "uppity." I'm as hypersensitive to racism as anyone here, but in this case I think Milbank is just amusing himself with words that sort of sound alike.

If you want to get upset at someone, get annoyed with the people who publish this idiocy under the aegis of what's supposed to be a serious newspaper.

Posted by: thersites on July 30, 2008 at 4:19 PM | PERMALINK

I've now re-read the Milbank piece.

The worst of it is, Dana had the temerity and gall to snark about Obama's private written prayer, left at Jerusalem's Western Wall and purloined by an opportunistic seminary student.

Milbank:

On his presidential-style visit to the Western Wall in Jerusalem last week, Obama left a written prayer, intercepted by an Israeli newspaper, asking God to "help me guard against pride and despair." He seems to have the despair part under control, but the pride could be a problem.

Unbelievable.

Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 4:23 PM | PERMALINK

Paxr55:

Take it up with Milbank. He was the one who said in his column that the Obama campaign banned The New Yorker from the European trip. He, specifically, used this as an example of the kind of arrogance that the members of the press don’t like. (All I know is what I read in the newspapers.)

As for Ryan Lizza being the one banned, I read it in a news report linked on DU.

If none of this happened, the Obama campaign needs to clear it up before the story gets repeated over and over again.

Posted by: emmarose on July 30, 2008 at 4:25 PM | PERMALINK

... I'm not gonna back down. Milbank is just telling the Obama campaign that presumptuous is the line of the week.

Milbank:

Barack Obama has long been his party's presumptive nominee. Now he's becoming its presumptuous nominee.

Posted by: junebug on July 30, 2008 at 4:29 PM | PERMALINK

Ron,paxr55
You're usually reasonable folks. I don't see how you can suddenly brand emmarose, who shows up pretty regularly here, a "concern troll" or "silly."

Read her comment more carefully. She says "one example given." Quoting a point is not the same as repeating it.

Read what o. weenie says at 4:01. The way to fight back is to praise Obama for getting up to speed, not by throwing hissy fits and namecalling.

Calm down, kids.

Posted by: thersites on July 30, 2008 at 4:32 PM | PERMALINK

emmarose,

Thanks, I did take it up with Milbank after reading howard's comment, upthread.

Here, for the record, is what Milbank wrote, in a classic post hoc ergo propter hoc bit of reasoning about Lizza in which you apparently delight. Or is it wallow? I get confused.

Milbank:

In the latest issue of the New Republic, Gabriel Sherman found reporters complaining that Obama's campaign was "acting like the Prom Queen" and being more secretive than Bush. The magazine quoted the New York Times' Adam Nagourney's reaction to the Obama campaign's memo attacking one of his stories: "I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others." Then came Obama's overseas trip and the campaign's selection of which news organizations could come aboard. Among those excluded: the New Yorker magazine, which had just published a satirical cover about Obama that offended the campaign. (emphasis mine)

As I said, post hoc ergo propter hoc reasoning.

The Obama campaign explicitly repudiated this charge about the New Yorker. And for Milbank to persist, and for you to beat the drum dutifully, is malicious and arrant nonsense masquerading as journalism or pique or something. Milbank should know better, and I'm sad for him.


Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 4:42 PM | PERMALINK

I don't think emmarose is a troll, and I've heard the banned-for-a-cartoon story too. Obama's hubris is a real issue that needs to be adressed before it hurts his campaign, and Milbank is providing a service in pointing that out.
I just finished Josh Marshall's post at TPM and I have to say it sounds like a lot of level headed people are getting hysterical. Kevin usually doesn't want to shoot the messenger of important news this badly, and for Josh to say fleeting images of Britney and Paris are somehow inferring Obama is lusting after white women is just scary over-the-top projection. I condemned the Howard Ford bimbo ads, but McCain's team is trying to attack Barack's celebrity status, not his sex drive, with these ads. Take a deep breath everybody.

Posted by: loki on July 30, 2008 at 4:51 PM | PERMALINK

As for Ryan Lizza being the one banned, I read it in a news report linked on DU.

They probably should have linked to the updated report where the original writer admits that it was pure speculation on her part that Ryan Lizza was "banned."

I agree that the prima donnas in the press are more than willing to assume a snub, but that isn't proof that a snub occurred.

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 30, 2008 at 4:58 PM | PERMALINK

loki wrote: "Obama's hubris is a real issue that needs to be adressed before it hurts his campaign, and Milbank is providing a service in pointing that out."

No, Obama's "hubris" is a fake, phony, bullshit non-issue concocted by the Republicans for the express purpose of hurting Obama's campaign, and Milbank is providing a service to the Republicans by repeating their bullshit.

Just like you are doing.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on July 30, 2008 at 5:08 PM | PERMALINK

SecAn,
Obama's "hubris" may be imaginary, but Obama's "perceived hubris" is not. The press has taken this football and are running it to the end zone.
Screaming at the messengers who are telling you this will not solve the problem.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 30, 2008 at 5:19 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's hubris or lack thereof aside, the hubris among some of his supporters is downright awe-inspiring. And I don't mean that in a good way.

Posted by: thersites on July 30, 2008 at 5:22 PM | PERMALINK

... to say fleeting images of Britney and Paris are somehow inferring Obama is lusting after white women is just scary over-the-top projection. I condemned the Howard Ford bimbo ads, but McCain's team is trying to attack Barack's celebrity status, not his sex drive, with these ads.

You lack the reptile brain of the folks at which the ad is targeted. You see images of Obama juxtaposed with images of vapid celebrities. The more primitive mindset is going to see footage of a black man morphing into footage of nubile young blonde women -- women, not coincidentally, who've achieved & maintain their celebrity status because of well-known & salacious incidents.

By weird chance, McCain's campaign manager happens to be the guy responsible for the Harold Ford smear.

Posted by: junebug on July 30, 2008 at 5:23 PM | PERMALINK

for Josh to say fleeting images of Britney and Paris are somehow inferring Obama is lusting after white women is just scary over-the-top projection. I condemned the Howard Ford bimbo ads, but McCain's team is trying to attack Barack's celebrity status, not his sex drive, with these ads.

And yet the only two "celebrities" pictured in these ads are young white (bonus points: blond) women whose fame rests on their sex lives. Sure does seem like we could have thrown in an overpaid NBA star or an undertalented male actor if the simple comparison of unearned celebrity were what we were after. Wouldn't that comparison be more apt if we went male-to-male?

Posted by: shortstop on July 30, 2008 at 5:32 PM | PERMALINK

Back when I was a graduate student in Canada, there was a political party called the Rhinos that had a totally irrelevant platform. The purpose for voting Rhino was to express your disgust with the choices the established parties (Conservative, Liberal and NDP) offered up as candidates.

One year a Rhino won a seat. Everyone was flabberghasted, especially the leaders of the Rhino movement. No one knew what to do.
The local political cartoonist did. He penned a picture of a Rhino screaming "Okay, everybody take a Valium".

Maybe that's what we should be doing today. Because it certainly looks like the Republican spin machine is working - it's making us fight with each other, as opposed to advancing our common case in a positive way.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 30, 2008 at 5:37 PM | PERMALINK

thers, you're a nice guy, and I usually enjoy your posts, but you and o weenie aren't Kevin's oracles. It's perfectly appropriate to go apeshit over Milbank's column, thank you very much.

Milbank is one of the canaries in the coal mine, and for him to go over like this (with the presumptuous business) means, at least to this observer, that the villagers are settling on the details of the first draft of their novel called Whole Cloth: How We Defined the Terms of the '08 Campaign.

It's important, as this journalistic charade takes shape, that we name bullshit. And the presumptuous tag is bullshit, pure and simple.

Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 5:47 PM | PERMALINK

I have been mulling the Harold Ford idea back and forth, but the only other reason for using Britney and Paris is some claim that Obama is an airhead. Of course, that is a dog that doesn't hunt. Nobody in his right mind thinks Obama is an airhead. It is possible to accuse Obama of a lot of things, but airhead isn't one of them. No, on balance painting the picture of Obama as a "scary black man" seems to be the only reason use the pictures of Hilton and Spears.

Note the McCain campaign is running the aid in rural PA. Talk about dog whistle country.

Posted by: Ron Byers on July 30, 2008 at 5:49 PM | PERMALINK

Actually I'm reacting not so much to Kevin's post as to the hysterical tone of some of the commenters here. I wasn't trying to be Kevin's oracle.

I do worry about the hubris and hypersensitivity of some of Obama's supporters, is all I'm saying. I read too many comments here that say, in effect, that McCain doesn't have a chance. That scares me.

Posted by: thersites on July 30, 2008 at 5:53 PM | PERMALINK

if millbank wanted to "provide a service" to the obama campaign, he would talk to the obama campaign. he wrote a cheap shot: as secularanimist noted, he's providing a service to the republican party.

as to the "perception" of obama's hubris, the only people who appear to be "perceiving" it are members of a narcissistic profession that lacks any degree of self-knowledge. in the real world, obama is about as far removed from a hubristic personality as one can imagine....

Posted by: howard on July 30, 2008 at 5:55 PM | PERMALINK

Last post on this thread, I promise.

The dog-whistle may work on a couple of different groups, one of them limned in pathetic MoDo columns, where she attempted the emasculating and dismissive Obambi image. For those not susceptible to the "scary black man" imagery, the Obambi image of insubstantiality and undeserved fame brings him down by association with total and often toxic airheads. Some dogs hear that whistle.

For other dogs, seeing Obama paired with notorious blond celebs does appear to be a pretty transparent homage to the ad that ran against Harold Ford. Some dogs hear that whistle too.

So this could be a real twofer: Obama, the scary airhead!

And yes, the visuals of

Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 6:02 PM | PERMALINK

Last post on this thread, I promise.

The dog-whistle may work on a couple of different groups, one of them limned in pathetic MoDo columns, where she attempted the emasculating and dismissive Obambi image. For those not susceptible to the "scary black man" imagery, the Obambi image of insubstantiality and undeserved fame brings him down by association with total and often toxic airheads. Some dogs hear that whistle.

For other trained dogs, seeing Obama paired with notorious blond celebs does appear to be a pretty transparent homage to the ad that ran against Harold Ford. Some dogs hear that whistle too.

So this could be a real twofer: Obama, the scary airhead! Who knew?

Posted by: paxr55 on July 30, 2008 at 6:04 PM | PERMALINK

Obama's "hubris" may be imaginary, but Obama's "perceived hubris" is not. The press has taken this football and are running it to the end zone.

Can anyone explain to me the difference between Obama's "perceived hubris" and Gore's "earth tones" or Kerry's "flip-flopping"? Or is it all the same line of bullshit?

Posted by: Mnemosyne on July 30, 2008 at 6:12 PM | PERMALINK

It's all the same line of bullshit. And why did we lose last time? Because we didn't fight back effectively. We can't use long winded explanations of why the assertion is wrong. If you're explaining it then you've lost it.

A quick, to-the-point retort is what is needed.
Like,

Obama is not being presumptuous, he is showing us exactly how he would lead were he to be elected President.

or
Obama is not campaigning on foreign soil. He is showing us how his approach to foreign policy is effective in getting other countries to cooperate with us.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 30, 2008 at 6:34 PM | PERMALINK

In today's wash post, ruth marcus wrote an article about the arrogance displayed bythe bush people in the justice department. she did not call that hubris, but it was. milbank, on the other hand, is premature in his call. time will tell whether Obama's "arrogance" is self-destructive. I agree that the article smacks of the inside the beltway racism -- that boy does not know his place. Also, it is fueled by Obama's call in Germany to tear down all walls -- including those separating Israelis and Palestinians. the Washington Post\Likud faction won't trust obama will israel's future. they'll do what they can to prevent his election (eg, dan balz was on the newshour tonight partially covering mccains butt on the non-visit to the hospital in germany).

Posted by: steveds on July 30, 2008 at 7:59 PM | PERMALINK

Well, that and the fact that there is little difference between some of Obama's "arrogant" actions and attitudes and those of McCain.

Milbank's offense wasn't just the one doctored quote. He also skewers him for the 'payback' exclusion of the New Yorker even though the campaign has specifically denied that was their motive and NOBODY has come up with an anonymous leak, slip of the tongue or anything other than unfounded speculation to disbelive the denial.

And he hits Obama for having the streets closed and corridors cleared in the capitol building for his meetings and campaign events despite the fact that this is almost certainly being demanded not by Obama but by the Secret Service and despite the fact that several recent McCain events have resulted in similar precautions.

Posted by: tanstaafl on July 30, 2008 at 8:06 PM | PERMALINK

The criticisms of Milbank by Kevin and the commenters here are unfair. Even put back into its original context, in which Obama explains why thousands of people adore him, the "I am a symbol" quote is still a really immodest statement, albeit an accurate one. It also seems obvious to me that Obama's campaign is trying to surround Obama with all the pomp of a sitting president; Milbank cites about five concrete, troubling examples of this, and doesn't even include the pseudo-presidential seal. As someone who always thought Jimmy Carter's attempt to demystify the presidency was a good thing, I can't see why it's reasonable to rip a reporter because he says something true and critical about a candidate I support.

Posted by: Wesley on July 30, 2008 at 10:35 PM | PERMALINK

because, wesley, it ain't frickin' true, that's why.

that is, the actual quote is "i have just become a symbol," which is not arrogant in the slightest.

as for your other notionally concrete examples from millbank, let's examine them, shall we?

ohmigosh - he talked to the treasury secretary! how awful!

he got a briefing from the chairman of the federal reserve - just despicable!

talking to the Pakistani prime minister (insultingly referred to by millbank as "grant(ing) an audience") - the nerve!

he had a pep rally with House democrats - unfrickin' believable! the unmitigated gall!

the secret service shuts down traffic, a decision almost assuredly made by the secret service - what a royalist that obama must be!

appearing at a fundraiser where donors had their picture taken with him - i ask you, have you ever heard anything so uppity in your whole life?

i mean, it's making me angry to read this again: there is nothing concrete here, it's a giant piece of shit granted column inches in a declining newspaper run by idiots (donald graham) and right-wingers (fred hiatt).

give it up, wesley: this has nothing to do with "something true and critical," not even close.

Posted by: howard on July 30, 2008 at 10:46 PM | PERMALINK

Warning: Snore Alert. Canadian correcting Canadian

optical weenie: One year a Rhino won a seat. Everyone was flabberghasted, especially the leaders of the Rhino movement. No one knew what to do. The local political cartoonist did. He penned a picture of a Rhino screaming "Okay, everybody take a Valium".

Come, come, no need to exaggerate for the sake of a story.

As the entry states...

The Rhinoceros Party never succeeded in winning a seat in Parliament. In the 1984 federal election, however, the party won the fourth-largest number of votes, after the three main political parties, but ahead of several well-established minor parties. Rhino candidates sometimes came in second in certain ridings, humiliating traditional Canadian parties in the process

Posted by: snicker-snack on July 30, 2008 at 10:50 PM | PERMALINK

Meeting one-on-one with foreign leaders and the treasury secretary is probably good politics, but doesn’t it give the impression that Obama is the “acting president”? And isn’t that the whole purpose of doing the meetings and the foreign trips -- to seem presidential? Isn’t that a little arrogant?

Other examples of high-and-mighty behavior cited by Milbank: refusing to divulge Obama’s schedule to reporters (should we blame this on the Secret Service too?); attacking Adam Nagourney (Nagourney: “I've never had an experience like this, with this campaign or others”); excluding the New Yorker from the overseas trip. I don't think this stiff-arm of the media is a big deal, but I didn’t like it in Bush, and I don’t like it in Obama.

Anyway to return to Kevin's original attack on Milbank, I still think it’s not a little arrogant but a lot arrogant for a candidate to explain that hundreds of thousands of Berliners cheered him on because he’s a symbol of hope for American values. Imagine George Bush saying something like that (e.g., to "explain" cheering Kurds) and ask yourself whether you would find it arrogant.

Posted by: Wesley on July 30, 2008 at 11:26 PM | PERMALINK

Even put back into its original context, ... quote is still a really immodest statement, albeit an accurate one. ... I can't see why it's reasonable to rip a reporter because he says something true and critical about a candidate I support.
Posted by: Wesley

Do you seriously need someone to explain why a manufactured scandal based upon an out of context quote perpetrated by a lazy media is a bad thing?

You couldn't be more truthy if you tried ... just because some criticism coincides with your biases and seems true doesn't justify Milbank's fabrication.

Posted by: Gonads on July 30, 2008 at 11:30 PM | PERMALINK

wesley, honest to goodness: were you born yesterday? presidential candidates often meet with foreign leaders: what exactly is the problem?

meanwhile, are you seriously digging further into the article in the pretense that there must be a pony in here somewhere?

what frickin' difference does it make whether the obama campaign released their schedule to reporters? who cares? why is that a relevant matter to the rest of us? what is so wrong with that?

as for nagourney, it must be that you don't know the circumstances: nagourney wrote a laughably ill-informed analysis of polling data that was completely wrong-headed. the obama campaign called him on it. he got insulted. i should care? nagourney shouldn't have a job in professional journalism: this isn't the first time he's pulled stuff like that.

the new yorker story i've seen denied, but i'm not sure enough about the facts to make a more categorical statement about it, but once again, who cares? why does this matter?

you personally think the candidate should be cooperative to the press; maybe the obama campaign doesn't feel the same way. how does this have anything to do with "presumptuousness?"

once again, there is no there there. millbank came up with (or was given) a theme, then cast about for otherwise insignificant and/or untrue anecdotes to support it. we're supposed to appreciate that?

Posted by: howard on July 30, 2008 at 11:55 PM | PERMALINK

snicker-snack,

I recall that there was one Rhino elected to parliament (from the Yukon or NWT) who, on the first day of the new session, was kicked out because he lit up a joint in the House of Commons.

Maybe I am misremembering, but I sure remember that cartoon. I tried to find it, I think it was in the Ottawa Citizen, but the archives don't go back as far as the early 80's.

Posted by: optical weenie on July 31, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

I'm still waiting for Keith Olbermann, who has Milbank on his show at least once a week, to take Milbank to task for this article, I guess we'll see.

Posted by: tom.a on July 31, 2008 at 2:08 PM | PERMALINK

Dana Milbank responds:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/discussion/2008/07/25/DI2008072502073.html


Posted by: emmarose on July 31, 2008 at 9:49 PM | PERMALINK

qZXqeK comment6 ,

Posted by: Lrdenpvp on June 26, 2009 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK




 

 

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