Harold Jackson, the editorial page editor of the Inquirer, toiled in the same political wilderness of Alabama in the 1980s that I myself did, and so he understands the historic nature of Barack Obama's presumptive Democratic nomination for president. In fact, he wants to be excited about it -- really, he does -- but he can't get there.
Remember how Hillary Clinton was inevitable? The cloak has been passed to John McCain. Reading between the lines of Jackson's column today, he seems to combine two phenomena that are politically dangerous for Obama: Doubt among some of his would-be enthusiasts -- especially African-Americans -- that the nation would really embrace a black president, and a feeling in the media of a need to bend over backwards to counter the argument that journalists are in the tank for Obama.
The danger is to build McCain into something he's not, and this piece does that big-time. Let's analyze the key passage:
Here's a key element of that "fiscal responsibility"?
Frequently anti-lobbyist? Even Jackson had to add the fudge word "frequently," because anyone knows that's hard to justify:
War hero? That's a fact, but in a tumultuous year like 2008, I doubt that alone will propel an otherwise weak candidate into the White House. And while it's true that Obama had some cringeworthy moments with Clinton early in the race -- remember "You're likable enough, Hillary?" -- he's been every bit as magnanimous as McCain toward his vanquished rival in recent days.
Harold Jackson is a friend, so I'm not going to be harsh here, but just kindly advise him to relax a little -- and don't pump John McCain into something he's not, especially when it's not shown by the facts. This is an election where truly the only thing to fear is fear itself.