thoughts on politics

January 11, 2009

George the giant lobster

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 6:11 pm
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Here’s the top story from today’s CNN AM Quick News email, which summarizes news from around the world each day:

George the giant lobster liberated from restaurant

NEW YORK (CNN) — A giant lobster named George escaped a dinner-table fate and was released Saturday into the Atlantic Ocean after a New York seafood restaurant granted him his freedom, according to a statement from the People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals.

George the lobster was a "sort of mascot" for City Crab and Seafood in New York.

George the lobster was a “sort of mascot” for City Crab and Seafood in New York.

The lobster, which PETA said was 140 years old and weighed 20 pounds, had been confined to a tank at City Crab and Seafood restaurant in Manhattan when two customers alerted the animal group.

The PETA statement did not say how the extraordinary age estimate was determined, but restaurant manager Keith Valenti told CNN that lobsters can grow a pound every seven to 10 years, and he put George’s weight at 18 to 20 pounds.

“I’ve been here for 12 years, and that’s the biggest lobster I’ve ever seen,” Valenti said.

He said the lobster had been “sitting in the restaurant’s tank and acting as a sort of mascot,” but when PETA got involved and requested the release, it “seemed like the right thing to do.”

PETA President Ingrid Newkirk said in a statement, “We applaud the folks at City Crab and Seafood for their compassionate decision to allow this noble old-timer to live out his days in freedom and peace.

“We hope that their kind gesture serves as an example that these intriguing animals don’t deserve to be confined to tiny tanks or boiled alive.”

Shedding the tight confines of his old restaurant display tank, George was driven to Maine by PETA members and was returned to his natural habitat on the ocean floor Saturday, the organization said.

It is heartwarming, I suppose, that a possibly 140-year-old lobster finally is getting to experience the ocean, but I don’t know how CNN determined this to be today’s biggest, most important story.  I also don’t know why I still get that e-mail.

December 11, 2008

Newsweek: Bible actually for gay marriage after all.

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 10:36 am
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In gay marriage news, Newsweek is trying to rock the boat in response to Prop 8 passing in California.  Though of course I’m against any measure, like prop 8, which denies people of their rights, I think Newsweek’s ridiculous attempt to explain how the Bible is actually a pro-gay marriage text is ultimately going to do more harm than good, to the magazine itself as well as the movement.  The author, in addressing sections of the New Testament that would seem to take a negative stance on homosexuality, turns for perspective to one guy out there who reads them as actually being castigations of the Roman Emperor.  No one except people who were already in favor of gay marriage are going to be convinced by this.  On the other hand, it likely has gotten so much play on talk radio and on Christian blogs that it has energized its opponents and convinced a whole host of people who may not have had negative views of the media to perceive an agenda.

Anyway, I’ve been following the threads on one particular response to this.  Click over to read my responses to some of the bloggers (you can just ctrl+f my name).

September 23, 2008

When religious fanatics attack

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 12:49 pm
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Sam Harris, author of the atheist tracts Letter to a Christian Nation and The End of Faith, has this to say about Sarah Palin in Newsweek:

We have all now witnessed apparently sentient human beings, once provoked by a reporter’s microphone, saying things like, “I’m voting for Sarah because she’s a mom. She knows what it’s like to be a mom.” Such sentiments suggest an uncanny (and, one fears, especially American) detachment from the real problems of today. The next administration must immediately confront issues like nuclear proliferation, ongoing wars in Iraq and Afghanistan (and covert wars elsewhere), global climate change, a convulsing economy, Russian belligerence, the rise of China, emerging epidemics, Islamism on a hundred fronts, a defunct United Nations, the deterioration of American schools, failures of energy, infrastructure and Internet security … the list is long, and Sarah Palin does not seem competent even to rank these items in order of importance, much less address any one of them.

Palin’s most conspicuous gaffe in her interview with Gibson has been widely discussed. The truth is, I didn’t much care that she did not know the meaning of the phrase “Bush doctrine.” And I am quite sure that her supporters didn’t care, either. Most people view such an ambush as a journalistic gimmick. What I do care about are all the other things Palin is guaranteed not to know—or will be glossing only under the frenzied tutelage of John McCain’s advisers. What doesn’t she know about financial markets, Islam, the history of the Middle East, the cold war, modern weapons systems, medical research, environmental science or emerging technology? Her relative ignorance is guaranteed on these fronts and most others, not because she was put on the spot, or got nervous, or just happened to miss the newspaper on any given morning. Sarah Palin’s ignorance is guaranteed because of how she has spent the past 44 years on earth.

I care even more about the many things Palin thinks she knows but doesn’t: like her conviction that the Biblical God consciously directs world events. Needless to say, she shares this belief with mil-lions of Americans—but we shouldn’t be eager to give these people our nuclear codes, either. There is no question that if President McCain chokes on a spare rib and Palin becomes the first woman president, she and her supporters will believe that God, in all his majesty and wisdom, has brought it to pass. Why would God give Sarah Palin a job she isn’t ready for? He wouldn’t. Everything happens for a reason. Palin seems perfectly willing to stake the welfare of our country—even the welfare of our species—as collateral in her own personal journey of faith. Of course, McCain has made the same unconscionable wager on his personal journey to the White House.

We have endured eight years of an administration that seemed touched by religious ideology. Bush’s claim to Bob Woodward that he consulted a “higher Father” before going to war in Iraq got many of us sitting upright, before our attention wandered again to less ethereal signs of his incompetence. For all my concern about Bush’s religious beliefs, and about his merely average grasp of terrestrial reality, I have never once thought that he was an over-the-brink, Rapture-ready extremist. Palin seems as though she might be the real McCoy.

Harris’ points are all too important, but will still go all but neglected by voters.  Maybe these ideas will get tossed around some in the media, thrown up and batted down by the “faith correspondents” on TV.  Ultimately they will be totally dismissed and harangued by the right, as symptomatic of the secular depravity of the liberal media, which will turn and run back to the unquestioned acceptance of religion, trying to pretend this never happened.

Still, I did not hear Harris crying foul when Obama stooped to the same Palinesque tactics of religious pandering.  He’s not as frighteningly fundamentalist as Sarah Palin, but he still plays the game.  See Newsweek’s fascinating cover story on Obama’s Christian Journey, for example.

I wonder what it would look like for an avowed atheist to run for president these days.

September 15, 2008

Cotton Candy

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 4:20 am
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Thanks to Greg for bringing to my attention this masterful column that ran in the Wall Street Journal last week.

The writer is David Perel, editor-in-chief of the National Enquirer, the one paper that carried the John Edwards scandal story for a year with no corroboration or even acknowledgment from anywhere else in the media. The fact that the Enquirer did this alone, when it probably cost them money to keep pursuing it, bought them a lot of respect in my book. Don’t look for me to go subscribe yet, or even link to them on the side of this page, but they definitely showed toughness in following the story through, and sticking to it when it was hard.

The main question Perel asks is this: Are “personal” issues fair game for the media to cover in the election?

I realize I wrote a few entries back that Palin’s daughter’s pregnancy should be off-limits. Perel’s answer, according to the title of the column, is that “everything about politicians is fair game.” After reading his full column, I agree more with him.

In his column, Perel welcomes us to “the greatest tabloid presidential election in modern times.” Whether it’s the greatest of all I don’t know; I tend to think that all the elections these days are basically “charades,” as Ron Paul recently said. In O Brother, Where Art Thou? we see the campaign for the governorship of Mississippi carried out through the movie. The style of campaigning that is most visibly employed by the two candidates involves a flatbed truck driving around with a fiddler, a speaker, and a dancing midget on the back. It’s a sideshow. Though campaigns don’t use politically incorrect stunts like that anymore, the substance of the modern-day grassroots campaign is the same. Without going into specific examples here, I hope readers can at least partially allow me this claim.

So why is a politician’s private lifeor even their family’s internal dramafair game?

As I wrote in my last entry to reference the National Enquirer (boy, I never thought I’d be using that tag again), Dan Rather’s definition of “news” is a great starting point. “Anything that someone somewhere doesn’t want you to know; that’s news.” Certainly Republicans would prefer to maintain the image of Sarah Palin as an irrationally religious conservative mom whose existence is in perfect accord with her proclaimed biblical values. A pregnant teenage daughter does that image significant damage. The full extent of what the National Enquirer is reporting is significantly worse (and, true to form, still untouched by the mainstream media, even if just to discredit it). I’ll leave it to Perel to point out all the hypocrisy that had to be performed left and right in response to the knocked-up revelation, and stick to the “what’s fair?” question in this entry.

Perel answers it himself:

In electing [our leaders] we grasp for any clues to their judgment and character, signals as to how they will react, and the verisimilitude of what they will tell the American people. An affair, regardless of political affiliation, is a breach of private trust; lying about it to the American public signals a dangerous willingness to deceive when caught in tough situations.

He’s pretty much right on that. The other big question Perel’s column raises, and leaves more open, is what the difference even is between the “mainstream” media and the “tabloid” media.

I say the biggest difference is simply the immediate reaction that every reader of this blog probably had to those two words. The highbrow mainstream media is where the real political discussion takes place, and where the truly important issues are examined, the worthwhile stories broken. Meanwhile, the tabloid media reports on Oprah’s weight, on Jessica Simpson’s divorce, on Britney Spears’ wackout. The tabloid media reports on things the mainstream media won’t.

But when I look at the “mainstream” outlets, I see nothing like what they are “supposed” to be.

Instead, I see hours of TV time spent guessing who Obama and McCain might pick as running mates, debate that was rendered totally pointless once they were actually announced (not that there was a point to it before the announcements). Inches, square feet even, of newspaper pages talking not about serious issues, but about how convention stages were set up, how events were calculated to appeal to the media, even how the media is reporting it. In what is ultimately a mockery of fairness and intelligent debate, media of all formats trot out voices representing the two opposing sides of “right” and “left” to have seven minute, mostly ad hominem, debates with no resolution ever. It is cotton candy from the fair, and the campaigns are only too happy to make it for the media, giving them plenty of press releases and access to the candidates as long as they don’t ask them anything too tough. The cotton candy is offered in several different flavorsblue, red, and purplethat all taste basically the same, and are all just as bad for you. And the infantile mainstream media devours it.

I still don’t regard the Enquirer as a trusty source, although the mere act of considering whether they are trustworthy assumes they have stories worth reading, which they generally don’t. I would like there to be a real difference between the two; lately there isn’t. Anyone who has read All the President’s Men has a sense of how much a media outlet really risks by doing long, investigative, and potentially explosive stories. If something like the Watergate break-in happened today, who would report it? I simply cannot imagine that any of the 24-hour TV networks would. I like to hope that some leading newspapers would pick it up, or a truly courageous independent website. Sadly, the John Edwards story suggests that it would be none of these, but instead most likely a tabloid paper.

What I mourn is the lack of any reputable media outlet to actually do its job. To not be wholly consumed by coverage of the election all the way from January 2007 to election day, to do fact-finding and investigating behind candidates’ claims instead of just mindlessly repeating the message each is trying to pass on to voters. There was a time, when I was so much younger and things were so much simpler, when I would have taken pride in saying I worked for a magazine like TIME, a paper like the New York Times, or a network like CNN. Now I’m waiting for the day when I meet someone who actually does, to tell them what I think of the job their company’s doing. “How long did it take you to learn how to stand in front of a building on camera and deliver a two-sentence story intro and earn your week’s pay?”

I don’t even really know how to conclude this; it’s pretty late, I’ve been writing a long time, and there’s not really any good conclusion to reach except that the mainstream media acts like the perfect definition of impotence, but I hope all my readers already knew that. I don’t know how I could do anything to actually change the way the media works, or anyone else: total impotence to fight this total impotence. I hope I at least encourage more people to step back and look at the whole mess of this. I find hope still in the internet, where free thought sometimes does happen, and fruitful exchange of ideas can occur.

August 28, 2008

Times Challenges Time for Puffiest Obama Story

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 3:46 am
Tags: , , ,

I hate to keep hitting on this subject, but this is really ridiculous.

Anyone interested (or at least, anyone who thinks the media is playing a fair or unbiased role) would find it a worthy exercise to compare and contrast this NY Times “news” article, published online yesterday, and one the Onion mockingly reported on in Time. I’ll get you started:

The New York Times: Starting in law school, Mr. Obama began pulling together a large cast of mentors, well-connected and civic-minded friends who rose in Chicago and Illinois politics along with him, including a spouse he thought was ideal.
“He loved Michelle,” said Gerald Kellman, Mr. Obama’s community organizing boss, but he was also looking for the kind of partner who could join him in his endeavors. “This is a person who could help him manage the pressures of the life he thought he wanted.”
While he speeds along rope lines, Mr. Obama sometimes connects better one on one. In spare moments, he will surprise supporters — a doorman who scraped together a small contribution, an elderly woman he had heard enjoyed his memoir — with an out-of-the blue phone call. Waiting backstage to speak to 20,000 people in Seattle in February, Mr. Obama grew so absorbed in talking to a retired Michigan couple that he had to be reminded not to miss his entrance cue.

The Onion: The 24-page profile, entitled “Boogyin’ With Barack,” hit newsstands Monday and contains photos of the candidate as a baby, graduating from Columbia University, standing and laughing, holding hands with his wife and best friend, Michelle, greeting a crowd of blue-collar autoworkers, eating breakfast with diner patrons, and staring pensively out of an airplane window while a pen and legal pad rest comfortably on his lowered tray table.
Sherwood said he was granted full access to the candidate, and was permitted by chief strategist David Axelrod to ask any question he desired—an opportunity the reporter used to lob the easiest softballs at Obama yet, ranging from how happy he felt when he met his wife to what songs are currently on his iPod playlist.

The New York Times: Nearly a decade ago, Mr. Obama joined luminaries like George Stephanopoulos and Ralph Reed for regular seminars, organized by Robert Putnam, a professor at Harvard and the author of “Bowling Alone,” about the deterioration of American community ties. As a young state senator from Illinois, Mr. Obama was one of the less prominent members of the group. But soon everyone was referring to him as “the governor” — a friendly smack, said Mr. Putnam, at Mr. Obama’s precocity and drive.
From an early age, Mr. Obama was taught by his mother to think grandly about his potential to help others. Once he reached adulthood, admiring teachers and mentors reinforced the message, steadily directing his sights higher and higher. As a law student, he mused about wanting to be mayor of Chicago; as a law professor, he talked about running for governor of Illinois; not long after that, he was running for president.
“I thought of him much more as a colleague” than a student, said Laurence Tribe, a law professor at Harvard for whom Mr. Obama worked. “I didn’t think of him as someone to send out on mechanical tasks of digging out all the cases.” Other students could do that, Professor Tribe added.
Mr. Obama’s campaign promotes accomplishments from his days in the Illinois Senate: He successfully championed campaign finance and racial profiling laws, as well as child care subsidies and tax credits for the working poor. But “he didn’t participate in rank-and-file things,” said John Corrigan, a former consultant to the State Senate’s Democratic caucus. “He was destined for something bigger than potholes.”

The Onion: “When the American people cast their vote this November, this is the piece of fluff they’re going to remember,” Stengel said. “Not the ones by Newsweek, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Economist, Nightline, The Wall Street Journal, or even that story about lessons Obama learned from his first-grade teacher we ran a month ago.”
“Situations like these are when you have to get on the phone and talk, not only to his mother, but to his aunt, his uncle, a Boy Scout leader, or maybe even one of his camp counselors growing up,” Sherwood said. “And if they don’t return your call, you turn to Sunday school teachers and former babysitters—anyone who is willing to go on record and say that Barack Obama was a really good kid who was destined for great things.”

The New York Times: These voters are not the first to see a contradiction between Mr. Obama’s aura of specialness and his insistence that he is just like everyone else.
Last month, while visiting Jerusalem, Mr. Obama crammed a note in the Western Wall that was promptly fished out and posted on the Internet. The message was elegantly phrased, as if Mr. Obama, a Christian, had anticipated that his private words to the Almighty would soon be on public display.
In the note, Mr. Obama asked for protection, forgiveness and wisdom, a message in keeping with the humility he tries to emphasize. But his uncanny self-assurance and seemingly smooth glide upward have stoked complaints from his critics and his opponents…

The Onion: Sherwood was also fearless in his effort to paint the candidate as someone who is “surprisingly down to earth,” a phrase that is used a total of 26 times throughout the feature.
The article, which follows Obama for 12 days during his campaign, was written by reporter Chris Sherwood, and is relentless in its attempt to capture the candidate at his most poised and polished. Sherwood said the profile easily trumps all other fluff pieces in its effort to expose the presidential candidate for who he really is: “an awesome guy.”

[Just to be clear: the Onion article, which was published July 18, points out the unabashed fawning coverage Obama gets in the media; the Time article it cites is made up by them. But the NY Times article I quote here is real, and was published yesterday (and I suspect will be found in today’s print edition). I guess you could pretty much switch out the Onion’s fake quotes for real ones from the Times and have a factual article from the Onion, and still an unreservedly pro-Obama “puff piece” in the NY Times masquerading as news.]

[update, 3:50 pm: The New York Times story did indeed make the print edition, and no less a place than front page, above the fold, with a jump to a full-page story inside.  Disgraceful.]

August 10, 2008

“So far, so sordid”

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 1:08 am
Tags: , , ,

The typical sex scandal of an also-ran these days hardly merits comment, but John Edwards’ recently revealed steppin’ around has more import than others might. Just to fill readers in, the National Enquirer recently reported following Edwards to a meeting with his mistress at the Beverly Hills Hilton, cornering him as he left, and chasing him into a bathroom where he blocked the door from the inside until hotel security came and took the journalists away.

I first heard of it a couple of weeks ago on drudge. It was just a scummy story from the National Enquirer, and even after reading it, I was inclined to dismiss it because I looked in several places, and they were the only paper reporting this. No “reputable” source even mentioned it to say it was untrue.

Finally, this past week, Edwards confessed that the Enquirer story was (partially) true: he’d had an affair with a campaign worker in 2006, and says he ended it then. (Though he’s admitted to that, a few other messy details remain unexplained: the woman now has a baby whose father is unknown–the birth certificate does not give a name. Edwards denies being the father of the child, and one of his campaign workers in fact came forward claiming to be the father, but even though Edwards says he’d submit to a paternity test, the woman is apparently not allowing it. Even if this version of the story is true–a campaign love triangle producing a child with an unknown father–it’s not nice, and it doesn’t fully make sense. The only way his claim could be true is if both Edwards and the other guy were sleeping with her at the same time, which means the only way he could be sure he wasn’t the father was to take a paternity test, so how does he know he’s not the father? Just sounds like a Maury episode waiting to happen.)

Tim Rutten from the Los Angeles Times, however, has a good column on why this story actually matters.

But what’s really significant here is the cone of silence the nation’s major newspapers — including The Times — and the cable and broadcast networks dropped over this story when it first appeared in the tabloid during the presidential primary campaign.

As pressure mounted on major newspapers to take some aspect of the unfolding scandal into account, editors and ombudsmen issued statements saying it would be unfair to publish anything until the Enquirer’s stories had been “confirmed.”

Well, there’s confirming and then there’s confirming. One sort occurs when an editor mutters, “Find somebody and have them make a few calls.” Then there’s the sort that comes when that editor summons an investigative reporter with a heart like ice and a mind like Torquemada’s and says, “Follow this wherever it goes and peel this guy like an onion.”

Suffice to say that the follow-up of the Enquirer’s story fell into the former category in too many newsrooms, including that of The Times.

It’s interesting that what finally forced Edwards into telling the truth was a mainstream media organization. ABC News began investigating the Edwards affair in October, but really began to push after the Beverly Hilton allegations. When ABC confronted Edwards with its story (which confirmed “95% to 96%” of the tabloid’s reporting, according to the network), he admitted his deception.

With that admission, the illusion that traditional print and broadcast news organizations can establish the limits of acceptable political journalism joined the passenger pigeon on the roster of extinct Americana.

The problematic aspect of this whole scandal is not so much that Edwards had an affair and lied, but that the entire mainstream media seemingly deliberately (to my mind) tried to stamp it out by denying it coverage. Indeed, the media “blackout” had that effect when I first saw the story: as I said, when only the Enquirer was reporting it, it was dubious.

Dan Rather once defined “news” as “anything that someone somewhere doesn’t want you to know.” Edwards’ extramarital relations themselves aren’t that big of a deal–people mess around all the time, and it doesn’t make headlines. What makes it news is that Edwards, like all politicians, seeks to cultivate an image of honesty and strong family values, which this story obviously deflates. What makes this story most discouraging is how the mainstream media outlets resisted so strongly in doing their jobs and investigating/reporting this very big news.

edit: for the Enquirer’s take on Edwards’ shocking admission, click here. A little different spin, there.

July 19, 2008

Boogyin’ with Barack

Filed under: Uncategorized — Matt @ 5:08 am
Tags: , ,

In one of their most perfect and relevant pieces of satire I’ve seen, the Onion this week had the following story, which I deem worthy of reproducing in full here:

‘Time’ Publishes Definitive Obama Puff Piece

NEW YORK—Hailed by media critics as the fluffiest, most toothless, and softest-hitting coverage of the presidential candidate to date, a story in this week’s Time magazine is being called the definitive Barack Obama puff piece.

Enlarge Image Fluff PieceOne twelfth of the light, glossy, groundbreaking surface-level feature.

“No news publication has dared to barely scratch the surface like this before,” columnist and campaign reporter Michael King wrote in The Washington Post Tuesday. “This profile sets a benchmark for mindless filler by which all other features about Sen. Obama will now be judged. Just impressive puff-journalism all around.”

The 24-page profile, entitled “Boogyin’ With Barack,” hit newsstands Monday and contains photos of the candidate as a baby, graduating from Columbia University, standing and laughing, holding hands with his wife and best friend, Michelle, greeting a crowd of blue-collar autoworkers, eating breakfast with diner patrons, and staring pensively out of an airplane window while a pen and legal pad rest comfortably on his lowered tray table.

According to political analysts, the Time piece features the most lack-of-depth reporting on Obama ever published, and for the first time reveals a number of inconsequential truths about the candidate, including how he keeps in shape on the campaign trail, and which historical figures the presidential hopeful would choose to have dinner with.

“The sheer breadth of fluff in this story is something to be marveled at,” New York Times Washington bureau chief Dean Baquet said. “It’s all here. Favorite books, movies, meals, and seasons of the year ranked one through four. Sure, we asked Obama what his favorite ice cream was, but Time did us one better and asked, ‘What’s your favorite ice cream, really?'”

Time managing editor Rich Stengel said he was proud of the Obama puff piece, and that he hoped it would help to redefine the boundaries of journalistic drivel.

“When the American people cast their vote this November, this is the piece of fluff they’re going to remember,” Stengel said. “Not the ones by Newsweek, Harper’s, The New Yorker, The Atlantic, The New Republic, The Economist, Nightline, The Wall Street Journal, or even that story about lessons Obama learned from his first-grade teacher we ran a month ago.”

The article, which follows Obama for 12 days during his campaign, was written by reporter Chris Sherwood, and is relentless in its attempt to capture the candidate at his most poised and polished. Sherwood said the profile easily trumps all other fluff pieces in its effort to expose the presidential candidate for who he really is: “an awesome guy.”

“My editors told me that if I wanted to uncover the most frivolous, trivial information on Obama, I had to be prepared to follow the puff,” Sherwood said. “That meant that not only did I have to stay and watch Sen. Obama play endless games of basketball with city firemen to show readers how athletic and youthful he is, but I also had to go to NBA shooting experts to learn what aspects of his jump shot are good and what parts are great.”

Sherwood said he was granted full access to the candidate, and was permitted by chief strategist David Axelrod to ask any question he desired—an opportunity the reporter used to lob the easiest softballs at Obama yet, ranging from how happy he felt when he met his wife to what songs are currently on his iPod playlist. Sherwood was also fearless in his effort to paint the candidate as someone who is “surprisingly down to earth,” a phrase that is used a total of 26 times throughout the feature.

“If we were going to get the story we wanted, it was my responsibility as a journalist to ask the really tough questions to his two young daughters,” said Sherwood, who grilled Malia and Sasha Obama, 9 and 7, about whether they were “proud of [their] daddy.” “I also had to capitalize on every opportunity to compare the story of Obama’s upbringing and rise to power to that of Martin Luther King, Jr.’s and John F. Kennedy’s, no matter how suspect those parallels really are.”

According to the Time reporter, work on the profile was often harder than he had anticipated, with Obama at times dodging questions about whether or not he played a musical instrument, and about what Monopoly piece he thought best represented his candidacy and why.

“Situations like these are when you have to get on the phone and talk, not only to his mother, but to his aunt, his uncle, a Boy Scout leader, or maybe even one of his camp counselors growing up,” Sherwood said. “And if they don’t return your call, you turn to Sunday school teachers and former babysitters—anyone who is willing to go on record and say that Barack Obama was a really good kid who was destined for great things.”

Added Sherwood, “It’s all about getting the factoids out in the open.”

Readers have so far responded favorably to the piece, with sales of the latest issue of Time nearly tripling that of an issue last month featuring a 36-page exposé that tore apart and vilified former candidate Hillary Clinton’s health-care plan.

“I’m not quite sure how he intends to turn around the economy or get us out of Iraq,” said California resident Geoff Mills, an ardent Obama supporter who read the Time story. “But any man who prefers his steak cooked medium-rare has my vote.”

It’s as if they read this entry of mine.  How much more timely and relevant could they (the Onion) have been with this?

Not to be outdone, however, Newsweek has actually hit back this week with their own cover story, Barack Obama’s Christian Journey.  Riveting stuff.  I think Rupert Murdoch needs to buy one of these magazines and help John McCain out.  Or does he already own one or both of them?

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