Obama beat reporter: who is this guy?

posted at 9:20 am on October 28, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Usually, reporters assigned to candidates get to know them all too well.  They spend months traveling with the candidate in close quarters, see them more often than the candidate’s families, and record all of the significant events of each and every day.  By the end of the campaign, a certain familiarity gets established, and these beat reporters often wind up writing extensive analyses and even books about their experience and the person behind the campaign hype.

According to Peter Nicholas of the Los Angeles Times, absolutely none of that is true about Barack Obama.  Not only has he not interacted much with the press at all, Obama turns out to be …. well, rather dull and uninteresting:

After Clinton’s defeat in the Iowa caucuses, she decided she needed an emergency reinvention. She began mixing with reporters, sipping a glass of wine late at night in the aisle of her campaign plane and unburdening herself about the state of the race. As her prospects dimmed, her accessibility grew. Sometimes she was off the record, but you can’t say she wasn’t fun.

Not so with Obama. One of the striking ironies is that a man who draws tens of thousands of people to his rallies, whose charisma is likened to that of John F. Kennedy, can be sort of a bore.

Discipline is essential for candidates who want to drive home a consistent message, or avoid the self-sabotage that comes with a careless answer. A steely perseverance helps explain why Obama at this point stands a better than even chance of becoming the 44th president. But when you’re exposed to the guy 18 hours a day, it’s a bit maddening. You want him to loosen up.

I’ve watched Obama demonstrate a soccer kick to his daughter in Chicago; devour a cheesesteak in Philly; navigate a roller rink in Indiana; drive a bumper car; and catapult 125 feet in the air on an amusement-park ride called “Big Ben.” He’s done it all with dogged professionalism, but with little show of spontaneity. After all this time with him, I still can’t say with certainty who he is.

A couple of points should be made.  Message discipline is even more critical than ever; Joe the Plumber proved that point.  Anything said by a candidate these days gets shot around the world within seconds, and it’s trapped in YouTube amber forever.  Forty years ago, politicians could get away with pandering to both Tampa Bay Rays fans and Phillies backers, for a lighter example, because no one would report it.  Those days are gone, and the campaigns of both Obama and John McCain reflect this.

McCain, though, is a known quantity.  He has a long record of national service, a history of leadership on difficult issues, and voters know him.  Obama has little record of any kind.  Even in Illinois, he voted “present” rather than create a reviewable record.  He is a cipher to most voters, an eloquent blank screen on which people can project their own desires and aspirations.

After two years on the campaign trail, in the most grueling presidential contest in American history, we are no closer to getting clear answers.  Nicholas concludes that the reporters can’t help:

First Clinton, then John McCain made the argument that Obama is someone we don’t really know. Obama’s supporters counter that we have his record in the U.S. and Illinois senates, two memoirs that reveal his inner thinking and a vast trove of public speaking. Ironically, those of us who were sent out to take his measure in person can’t offer much help in answering who he is, or if he is ready. The barriers set in place between us and him were just too great.

Well, who set those barriers, and why?  Isn’t it incumbent on Nick the New Guy to make himself more transparent, and not less?  Shouldn’t the candidate who has so little experience on the skills necessary for the presidency — executive, military, and diplomatic — share more of himself to make the sale with voters?  If Obama sets barriers between himself and voters, it can only be because more transparency would demonstrate a lack of fitness for the job.

Related Posts:

Breaking on Hot Air



Trackback URL


Besides the one on his head, DRywall has a point.

geckomon on October 28, 2008 at 11:21 AM
I’m having that sanded down next weekend.

Dave Rywall on October 28, 2008 at 11:24 AM

I don’t agree with most (read 99.9%) of your ideology, but I appreciate your sense of humor.

How very McCain of me.

geckomon on October 28, 2008 at 11:31 AM

Here is a bit of advice for this “journalist” get off the plane and do a little research. Interview some of Obama’s past and present friends, and you will get to know who he is.
Other words, do a little work, rather then waiting for Obama to come to you to explain who he is.
I know the answer, if you did that, you would be banned from the paper you write for. They don’t want to know who he is…
Isn’t this the paper that has the video of Obama toasting a Palestinian war monger? And they won’t release it till after the election…
I think we know why they want you on the plane, now sit down and shut up…

right2bright on October 28, 2008 at 11:32 AM

I believe ” The white man’s greed drives a world in need ” is who BHO is at his core.

Be very afraid America.

DeweyWins on October 28, 2008 at 9:33 AM

I’m not sure that’s it, exactly, though it may be close. Everything seems to add up to his central drive being shame over whatever ‘whiteness’ he sees in himself, and the desire to wash it away.

Count to 10 on October 28, 2008 at 11:32 AM

I’m having that sanded down next weekend.

Dave Rywall on October 28, 2008 at 11:24 AM

This proves prayer works. :)

platypus on October 28, 2008 at 11:33 AM

I don’t want to know him better.
I want him to fail, go back to being one voice in a hundred (not that he speaks up much in the Senate)or better yet, retire and write lots of books I’ll never read. I don’t ‘fear’ Obama or what his Presidency would do to this country, because he’s just a man. Everyone getting all fearful about Obama ruining this country, remember: we survived Clinton and Carter. We are a great country which sometimes has poor leadership, but we survive, we thrive no matter who sits in the White House.

Doug on October 28, 2008 at 11:34 AM

Yep. Nobody knows a damn thing about this guy. It’s deliberate.

Dr.Cwac.Cwac on October 28, 2008 at 9:31 AM

Great list, you may have missed just one…did he ever even pass the bar?

right2bright on October 28, 2008 at 11:34 AM

BO had his birth certificate sealed in Hawaii when he went to see Grandma. Also, he only spent 7 hours with her. And not in one shot.

sheebe on October 28, 2008 at 11:28 AM

I hate to defend him, but he didn’t go to have the certificate sealed, the Governor (a huge supporter of Palin) did that. It was the proper thing to do, besides if he wanted that done, he would have sent a team of attorneys to do that, they would be better and more efficient.

right2bright on October 28, 2008 at 11:37 AM

Dave Rywall on October 28, 2008 at 11:15 AM

What media scrutiny? Where is this media scrutiny you refer to? Reporters can’t even be bothered to look at the Annenberg Challenge records. No, Stanley Kurtz had to do it. They can’t be bothered to go back thru interviews w/Obama from 7 yrs. ago. No, an independent reporter had to find it. They can’t be bothered to ask about his relationship w/Frank Marshall Davis, Bill Ayers, Rev. Wright, Tony Rezko, Mayor Daley, his support for an even more inexperienced politician than himself (if one can imagine that) in Alexi Giannoulias? His membership in the New Party?

Oh yes, Captain Dense, we are no closer to knowing why your champion has so many questionable alliances than we were six months ago. And Nicholas is still no closer to “knowing who he is, or what he stands for” even after his ride alongs. The transparency issues abound. That is Nicholas’ point, and still you refuse to acknowledge it.

JAM on October 28, 2008 at 11:42 AM

Ed, what is blatantly transparent about THIS WALL is that by not acknowledging its existence, Obama is not required to tear down alongside “all walls must come down” (Berlin Lovefest).

maverick muse on October 28, 2008 at 11:52 AM

Obama was schooled to STFU and he’s learned himself how to remain absolutely aloof. Meet your pre-deortained candidate, the snooty fake intellectual straw man, Obamarx.

maverick muse on October 28, 2008 at 11:56 AM

Here is a mid-day palate-cleanser that I am posting to all of today’s threads. It’s very inspirational and I promise it will be worth 2 minutes of your life. Birth of the U.S.

ManlyRash on October 28, 2008 at 11:58 AM

You would think Nicholas could spend some of his dead time on O Force One using his laptop computer to do some simple searches for information about Barack Obama. After the first couple of months of stonewalling, it should have been obvious that he wasn’t going to get squat from Obama himself or his sycophants on the plane.

Both the Obama AND McCain press corps have been far too accommodating of the campaigns controlling access to the candidates. Both of them should have been hammered on it continuously since June. The only one who got hammered over it was Sarah Palin, and that was deserved. But the other three candidates were given a pass.

The most revealing and important things we have learend about Barack Obama have ALL come from the tiny nummber of unscripted comments he has made:

–“You’re likable enough, Hillary”
–People in Pennsylvania cling to their guns and religion and don’t like people who don’t look like them
–I don’t want my daughter punished with a baby
–Iran is a tiny country that is not a threat to the U.S.
–We want to spread the wealth around

Just imagine if the media had done its job and gotten Obama to talk even a little but more off the cuff. It would have been completely obvious that he doesn’t know what the hell he is talking about without a script.

rockmom on October 28, 2008 at 12:01 PM

Ah…sorry guys.

But, I know exactly who he is.

Not Over.

1GooDDaDDy on October 28, 2008 at 9:48 AM

Very good video

Mercy4Me on October 28, 2008 at 12:04 PM

Interview some of Obama’s past and present friends, and you will get to know who he is.

If you can find any.

MarkTheGreat on October 28, 2008 at 12:24 PM

“trapped in YouTube amber forever.”

That is a sweet turn of phrase, Ed.

Taggert: You use yur mouth purdier than a $20 dollar whore.

Lamontyoubigdummy on October 28, 2008 at 12:29 PM

Is this the new “excuse” meme for the MSM? “He wouldn’t tell us!”

One-tenth of the research put into McCain and Palin would have yielded a treasure trove of questions to ask Osama Obama.

Should the suppression of parts of his past (including his birth), names like Ayers, Daley, Rezko, Wright and Khalid, and past statements making clear his support for Marxist socialism ring a bell? Hello?

Of course it is editors and publishers who usually drive reporters’ coverage. If the head office says “give The Messiah a pass,” that’s what happens.

But this is what we’re stuck with. The Revolution, so hyped on the American ultra-left back in the 1960s, is finally happening. We’re in deep dung here, folks….

MrScribbler on October 28, 2008 at 12:29 PM

ManlyRash on October 28, 2008 at 11:58 AM

Good one, MR.

I suggest we’d better note and remember certain parts of the Declaration if Osama Obama wins.

The “tyranny” imposed by England will pale in comparison to what a 21st-Century totalitarian can (and will) conjure up.

Let us hope it doesn’t come down to a contest of arms this time around.

MrScribbler on October 28, 2008 at 12:35 PM

It seems a little late for anyone in the MSM to be decrying the fact that “we just don’t know this man…”

The MSM utterly failed in their jobs. NOW they are worried about BO? NOW they worry about how he leads his life?


The fact is that important as this issue really is, people just don’t care.

In the last couple of weeks, everyone has seen and heard from the man’s own mouth who and what he is – and it hasn’t mattered a damn bit!

I have come to understand that I must do what I can by voting against this asshat, but I fear a good portion of my “fellow americans” are ready to hand over their lives, liberties and freedoms since they are too stupid and lazy to look past their own personal petty trivialities.

Yes I am being cynical and I’m more than pissed off! Probably better than half of this country doesn’t understand what they have and how fortunate they really are to be Americans…

and are willing to throw it all away for an empty suit; for a man who can’t string together enough words for one sentence without stuttering through a thousand “uhh’s” and “umm’s”!


catmman on October 28, 2008 at 12:53 PM

Let us hope it doesn’t come down to a contest of arms this time around.

MrScribbler on October 28, 2008

I’m praying that you’re right, and arming in case you’re wrong. I will not stand on the sidelines and watch my country shrivel and my freedoms die.

SKYFOX on October 28, 2008 at 12:58 PM

All signs point to robot.


29Victor on October 28, 2008 at 1:16 PM

So this guy’s defense is essentially “Don’t blame me. I’m a parrot, and the chosen one’s not feeding me any good lines.”

That’s it? He wants to be called a journalist?

I’d use another title that’s much more appropriate: Press Agent.

Nichevo on October 28, 2008 at 1:17 PM

Obama is a narcissist. Did you hear him yesterday? People said he couldn’t make it. But he did. And his faith in the American people was vindicated.

All about him, about how people let him down, they were against him, they didn’t support him, they didn’t love him, they didn’t fill him up, but then, he believed in the American People and they pulled through for him, they do support him, they do love him, it is as it should be. And we know, from his St. Louis acceptance speech, this is the time, people will be educated, they will be healed, the oceans of the earth will be stilled and the earth will heal too. Besides being far left this guy is a psychological mess. He says, “and did I mention, he’s black” and “he doesn’t look like all the other Presidents on the dollar bills”, and in the last debate he said people at McCain rallies were saying “kill him”. The voters are all caught up in the cult of personality of Obama, and it will end very badly for our country. We’re acting like a third world country, becoming a nation of men rather than of laws. I will fight against President Obama and what he stands for, which is socialism, and redistribution of wealth. He’ll kill the American spirit unless we stand up against him.

Paul-Cincy on October 28, 2008 at 1:27 PM

It’s the drugs. There’s nothing inside.

Sir Andrew on October 28, 2008 at 1:36 PM

Looks like the gild coming off the lilly for the Press Corpse…

Wyznowski on October 28, 2008 at 2:52 PM

Of course, it’s not true that we know NOTHING about Zerobama. Collie, why don’t you show them?

My collie says:

We have a pretty good idea of where Obama comes from, viz. HERE.

CyberCipher on October 28, 2008 at 3:20 PM

The press is now starting to go into the mode of it is not our fault you voted for Obama….

Watch Obama totally cut the press off if he is elected.
Watch all the dirt and negative commentary that the press held back on Obama come to the surface after he is elected.

albill on October 28, 2008 at 3:28 PM

Go out and find O’s drug dealer, unless he/she is a member of his campaign.

gary on October 28, 2008 at 4:27 PM

I’m having that sanded down next weekend.

Dave Rywall

Be careful. Most of what little gray matter you have is located right below the point.

rokemronnie on October 28, 2008 at 4:38 PM