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By Robert Parry | Consortiumnews.com, August 6, 2008
It might seem unlikely that the United States would elect John McCain to succeed George W. Bush when that would ensure continuation of many unpopular Bush policies: an ill-defined war with the Muslim world, right-wing consolidation of the U.S. Supreme Court, a drill-oriented energy strategy, tax cuts creating massive federal deficits, etc., etc.
But there are reasons – beyond understandable concerns about Barack Obama’s limited experience – that make a McCain victory possible, indeed maybe probable.
Here is one of the big ones: The U.S. news media is as bad as ever, arguably worse.
On Monday, Obama gave a detail-rich speech on how he would address the energy crisis, which is a major point of concern among Americans. From ideas for energy innovation to retrofitting the U.S. auto industry to conservation steps to limited new offshore drilling, Obama did what he is often accused of not doing, fleshing out his soaring rhetoric.
McCain responded with a harsh critique of Obama’s calls for more conservation, claiming that Obama wants to solve the energy crisis by having people inflate their tires. McCain’s campaign even passed out a tire gauge marked as Obama’s energy plan.
For his part, McCain made clear he wanted to drill for more oil wherever it could be found and to build many more nuclear power plants.
These competing plans offered a chance for the evening news to address an issue of substance that is high on the voters’ agenda. Instead, NBC News anchor Brian Williams devoted 30 seconds to the dueling energy speeches, without any details and with the witty opening line that Obama was “refining” his energy plan.
So, instead of dealing with a serious issue in a serious way, NBC News ignored the substance and went for a clever slight against Obama, hitting his political maneuvering in his softened opposition to more offshore drilling.
Williams’s quip fit with one of the press corps’ favorite campaign narratives, Obama’s flip-flopping. But the coverage ignored far more important elements of the story, such as the feasibility of Obama’s vow that “we must end the age of oil in our time” or the wisdom of McCain’s emphasis on drilling – and nuking – the nation out of its energy mess.
And, as for flip-flops, McCain’s dramatic repositioning of himself as an anti-environmentalist – after years of being one of the green movement’s favorite Republicans – represents a far more significant change than Obama’s modest waffling on offshore oil.
The Sierra Club, one of the nation’s premier environmental organizations, has repudiated McCain and now is running ads attacking his energy plan. But McCain’s flip-flops – even complete reversals – remain an underplayed part of the campaign story. They just don’t fit the narrative of maverick John McCain on the “Straight Talk Express.”
Loving the ‘Surge’
The major U.S. news media has been equally superficial in dealing with the Iraq War and the “war on terror.” It is now a fully enshrined conventional wisdom that George W. Bush’s troop “surge” was a huge success and vindicates McCain’s early support for it.
On Obama’s overseas trip, it became de rigueur for each interviewer to pound him for the first 10 or 15 minutes with demands that he accept the accepted wisdom about the “surge” and admit that he was wrong and McCain was right.
Continued . . .
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