Tuesday, October 14, 2008


The thing is that the press has had 18 months or so to cover these candidates. Balz doesn't mean that reporters should suddenly, say, take a look at Obama's health care plan and be like, "hey, that's not such a bad idea." What he means is to throw up every potentially bad thing around one last time just in case voters didn't hear it the first 300 times they covered it.

Hey, maybe I'm wrong. Maybe that isn't what Balz means. But consider this paragraph:

It is hard to think of a new president who inherited such a rapidly altered landscape.... How adaptable is Obama to all of this? How willing is he to address these questions in real time, as opposed to later? How much time has he given recently to rethinking the scope and ambition of a possible Obama administration? Would he come to office with a determination to be bold or to be cautious? Is he the pragmatist that allies have suggested -- or committed to a more ideologically oriented agenda, as his critics say?

All of these are personality traits, and basically not even real ones but the kind of personality narratives campaign journalists love to talk about so that they can avoid addressing questions like, "Is Obama's health plan a good idea?" It's the presidency as reality TV show, the only kind most campaign journalists seem to understand. Three weeks before the election it would be nice if journalists spent a few minutes to go to the candidates' web pages and read through their policy proposals and try to explain them to the public. Maybe even compare and contrast a bit without the lens of politics.