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An Occasional Note on the 2008 Campaigns, No. 12

Stateside With Rosalea Barker

An Occasional Note on the 2008 Campaigns, No. 12

Bacon-O-Rama::And then there was one::
Piece of bacon, that is. Today’s early morning newscasts are awash with images of Senator Barack Obama—coincidentally a presidential candidate—on a fact-finding mission with a congressional delegation in Afghanistan. Pity the poor other members of the delegation, who might just as well be invisible for all the coverage they’re getting.

The media has built a huge level of public interest in Obama’s trip, particularly around the question of whether he will flub something in a spectacular manner. So the trip to visit troops in Kuwait and on the ground in Afghanistan and Iraq is a double-edged sword for the Obama presidential campaign. And with that sword, they have apparently brought home the bacon.

Opening shot of news item posted on CBS5’s KPIX webpage, Sunday, July 20, 2008.

Watch the news item of Obama sitting with troops in Afghanistan eating breakfast. Talk about product placement! Was this breakfast staged to give rumor-dispellers ammunition with which to fight the New Yorker cover cartoon earlier this week? Apparently, the satirical intent of that cartoon was lost on firm believers that the Senator from Illinois is a Muslim. Muslim—and Jewish, for that matter—dietary constraints forbid eating meat from pigs.

In the news reports, one shot shows two strips of bacon. In a later shot, there’s just one. Well, of course, hardened believers that Obama isn’t all he professes to be will just say there was a dog under the table.

::Just because he can::
Back in 2000, I videotaped the PBS live broadcast of that year’s Republican National Convention presidential candidate acceptance speech. If you recall, the main contender against George W. Bush that year was John McCain, who seemed infinitely preferable. But then again, I also thought Bill Bradley was infinitely preferable to Al Gore, so what do I know about what makes candidates appealing to the party members when they choose their presidential candidate?

Events this week made me go back and look at that 2000 coverage of the convention. It seemed odd to me, that in the very week that the current Democratic candidate is on a world tour to boost his foreign experience and military knowledge credentials, the White House should pull the rug out from under John McCain’s feet on those very two issues.

According to news reports, the Bush administration now says there should be a “time horizon” for withdrawing troops from Iraq. One of McCain’s persistent themes has been that a timetable for withdrawal, which Obama has proposed, is tantamount to admitting defeat. And McCain also criticizes Obama for saying he would sit down with Iran to negotiate about its nuclear activities. Lo! This very week, a high-ranking State Department official was sent to sit in on an international meeting that included Iran’s nuclear negotiator, breaking a 30-year dearth of diplomatic contact between the two countries.

Is it just me, or do those events seem a little like a churlish Bush making life difficult for the Senator from Arizona just for old times’ sake?

George W. Bush walking away from a brief conversation with John McCain at the 2000 Republican National Convention. From PBS Newshour with Jim Lehrer live converage.

At the close of the 2000 convention coverage, veteran journalist Jim Lehrer said, “There’s George Bush just talking to John McCain. They had a very difficult primary race, and there was some speculation that maybe John McCain would take a pass on being on that stage tonight.”



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