Howard Kurtz: So, how 'bout that media hagiography of Obama, huh?

Note the line about mythmaking. Media apologists will dismiss the euphoria as a reaction to progress in race relations, but what’s noteworthy about Kurtz’s examples is how few of them view Obama through the prism of social progress rather than in terms of his own supposed inherent greatness as a leader. Obama as FDR, Obama as JFK, and of course Obama as Lincoln, a comparison The One’s been nudging them towards since, literally, the day he joined the race. It’s one of the reasons you can’t get through a story about Hillary as SecState without a reference to “Team of Rivals” and why USA Today felt obliged to reach for a Lincoln parallel to close its story about The One’s meeting today with McCain. Consider this a first draft of history from the “great man theory” school; no wonder our favorite liberal’s advising the GOP to go looking for messiahs of its own.

He’ll be criticized in due time when he messes up, of course, but what the current coverage does is frame him as a titan somehow qualitatively different from, and more exalted than, the usual rabble who occupy the office so that the backlash to his eventual errors will be tempered accordingly. JFK had the Bay of Pigs, FDR had the Court-packing plan, Lincoln didn’t start winning battles regularly until 1864. Just because demigods make mistakes, you see, doesn’t mean they’re not demigods.

Perhaps it was the Newsweek commemorative issue — “Obama’s American Dream” — filled with so many iconic images and such stirring prose that it could have been campaign literature. Or the Time cover depicting Obama as FDR, complete with jaunty cigarette holder…

What’s troubling here goes beyond the clanging of cash registers. Media outlets have always tried to make a few bucks off the next big thing. The endless campaign is over, and there’s nothing wrong with the country pulling together, however briefly, behind its new leader. But we seem to have crossed a cultural line into mythmaking…

[A]ren’t media people supposed to resist this kind of hyperventilating?…

MSNBC, which was accused of cheerleading for the Democratic nominee during the campaign, is running promos that say: “Barack Obama, America’s 44th president. Watch as a leader renews America’s promise.” What are viewers to make of that?

There is always a level of excitement when a new president is coming to town — new aides to profile, new policies to dissect, new family members to follow. But can anyone imagine this kind of media frenzy if John McCain had managed to win?

I changed my mind. The most interesting line there is the one about the media feeling duty-bound to resist hyperventilation — not because it proves something about press bias but because it fits so well with Obama cultists’ complacency about that creepy Shepard Fairey poster. It’s not the media that fancies itself immune to political hero-worship; it’s the left generally, forever condescending to the right about iconoclasm and the virtues of being suspicious of power. Meanwhile, they’re toting around iconography with a giant close-up of the leader over the word “PROGRESS”. When do the prayer gestures finally go mainstream?

Baseball Crank notes that The One has been on the front page of the Daily News every day since November 2. Exit question: Is there any connection, do you suppose, between Kurtz’s piece and this one?