This lengthy Dowd column is worth reading in full, for no other reason than to marvel at how little daylight there is between Dowd’s angst and the conservative critique of Obama. (Of course, if Dowd’s saying this now, she should have realized there was no there there a long time ago. And speaking of “there,” Dowd makes a point of noting one of his former roommates compared the protagonist of Walker Percy’s The Moviegoer to Obama. I would humbly suggest that Jerry Kosinski’s Being There is probably the better literary touchstone.)
In my mind, Dowd’s column seems to have something in common with the foofaraw over Politico’s story on Thursday that highlighted media bias against Romney, specifically by the Washington Post and Ms. Dowd’s employer. A number of liberals dismissed Politico’s story as an attempt to hurt the credibility of its two biggest competitors. There may be some truth to that, but I think there’s something else going on. Huffington Post’s media critic, Michael Calderone, described Politico’s piece as a “beat sweetener” — the journalism term of art to describe favorable stories written to predispose a subject to give greater access to that same media outlet in the future. Given that, as Politico has pointed out, the New York Times and Washington Post went all in early in the campaign with negative stories on Romney — Dressage! Gay bully! — Politico wants to position itself as the favored outlet of the Romney White House. That’s an outcome that the editors of Politico may think is looking more and more likely, hence the beat sweetener.
Of course, Politico’s story came out before Friday’s grisly jobs report and Dowd’s came out two days after. But impetus of Dowd’s column can be viewed in much the same light. She too might be laying down a marker in the event that Obama loses. If Obama loses, she can point to this column in five months and say she saw it coming.