October 6, 2007

Obama Reaching


If you stand back a bit and observe the media coverage of the campaign, what you’ll see — with all the handicapping, and obsession with war chests and premature polling — is a hermetic condition in which the press first creates, then seeks ways to feed its assumptions.

This photo sequence in last week’s print edition of TIME is a visual example of that loop.

The story — blathering about how Obama has apparently stalled in his heavyweight match with Clinton — is titled: Out of Reach? (For fuller context, including some “proof positive” polling data cleverly aligned with the photography, check the full page image here.)

Left-to-right and top-to-bottom, the media message is fairly clear: Obama’s campaign has become… a reach, a stretch, a dream beyond his grasp — and, in a more bodily sense… a fading, a falling back, a disappearing act.

I have my own theory about Obama’s reach, however — which, not coincidentally, lines up with the stated strategy of David Axelrod, Obama’s campaign guru.  I refer you to the following snippet buried in a NYT front page article last week about the big deal fact Hillary out-raised Obama by $75 million to $63 million.

Asked if the bulk of political momentum favored Mrs. Clinton over Mr. Obama right now, Mr. Axelrod added: “Howard Dean had plenty of momentum in the fall of 2003, when everyone was anointing him as the Democratic nominee. I’m happy if the Clintons want to do victory laps in October; I’ll take ours in January and February,” when the primary season will be well under way.

Perhaps Obama is inexperienced or overcautious, just like his opposition would have everyone believe.  Alternately, however, the man plays a lot of poker, and has not been a person to overplay his hand.  Another indication of strategic reserve is found right in the second sentence of the TIME headline.  It reads: “He has charisma to burn.”

If that’s the case and Obama is simply pacing himself, its seems that visually, TIME might actually have these two pictures out of order.

(images: Samantha Appleton – Noor.  TIME.  October 8, 2007)

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Michael Shaw
See other posts by Michael here.

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