Obama's Reaganism, McCain's Luddism


In Sunday's New York Times, Adam Nagourney and Michael Cooper produce this somnolent interview with presumptive Republican candidate John McCain. In the first few paragraphs, we learn that McCain has "expressed a willingness to deploy government power and influence where free-market purists might hesitate to do so." It's a terrifying sentence—just when, exactly, does McCain think the government should meddle in the market?—but Nagourney and Cooper choose instead to spend most of the interview sniffing around the question of whether or not McCain is an evangelical Christian, interrogating him on gay adoption (he is against it), creationism (he believes in evolution), and how often the senator goes to church (not that often). There are plenty of issues on which Nagourney and Cooper could hammer McCain—though I suspect the New York Times agrees with him on campaign finance, so no bother—but instead they take six paragraphs to ruminate of his lack of computer skills, wondering what blogs and websites he visits, if he uses a Blackberry, if he buys World War I helmets on eBay, etc. (Using the Nagourney interview, The Telegraph's Washington correspondent, Toby Harnden, files a story today on the technophobe angle, arguing that McCain's admission could be "politically damaging" and quoting a Democratic strategist "with close ties to Obama" scoffing that his "five-year-old niece can use the internet.") The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan merit not a single question, but Nagourney and Cooper manage to ask if it is "more difficult to run against Mr. Obama because of the sensitivities of race." Fascinating.

The Sunday Times's lead Obama piece is rather more entertaining. William Yardley files a dispatch from Portland, Oregon headlined "Obama Supporters on the Far Left Cry Foul," chronicling the rapid disaffection of the senator's more radical supporters. One young—and erstwhile—Obama booster was shocked to discover that his hero was but a creature of the political establishment, tacking to the right in hopes of securing the knuckle-dragging troglodyte vote: "This is the first time I've ever seen him lie to us, and it makes me feel disappointed. I thought he was going to stand up there, stand by his campaign promises like he said he would, and it turns out he's another politician."

Over at The New Republic, Eli Lake produces an interesting analysis of Obama's foreign policy vision—one that will surely horrify his young, Counterpunch-reading supporters in Portland. Conservative critics who have argued that Obama in just a 21st century version of Jimmy Carter, Lake writes, are ignoring the more Reaganite rhetoric of his foreign policy team, some of whom are "drawing on a time-honored tradition of foreign policy that goes back to the Gurkhas: finding proxies to fight an enemy."

So has Obama the anti-war candidate morphed into Obama the proxy-war candidate? Does it matter that John McCain doesn't Twitter? Discuss.