By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Spinning the obvious

In an “analysis” headlined “Biden pick shows lack of confidence,” Ron Fournier of the Associated Press writes:

For all his self-confidence, the 47-year-old Illinois senator worried that he couldn’t beat Republican John McCain without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack. The Biden selection is the next logistical step in an Obama campaign that has become more negative — a strategic decision that may be necessary but threatens to run counter to his image.

That’s because, well, Obama probably can’t beat McCain without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack.

Let me lend a hand and help Fournier with what he may be writing one week from today:

For all his self-confidence, the 72-year-old Arizona senator worried that he couldn’t beat Democrat Barack Obama without help from a seasoned politician willing to attack. The Romney selection is the next logistical step in a McCain campaign that has become more negative — a strategic decision that may be necessary but threatens to run counter to his image.

Any questions? Other than wondering how many brain cells Fournier fired up before putting fingers to keyboard?

David Brooks on Friday: “Biden’s the one. The only question is whether Obama was wise and self-aware enough to know that.”

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More on Fournier and the AP


  1. Tony

    Yeah, talk about phoning it in again. We all figured that out. I, frankly, think this is a terrible pick. Biden is a total insider and is not “change we can believe in …”

  2. Steve

    Steve Benen has a retrospective of AP’s coverage of the presidential campaign so far. And Dana Milbank recalls AP’s Fournier and Liz Sedoti greeting McCain with a box of his favorite donuts and coffee.And here, Eric Boehlert recalls Fournier’s breezy, obsequious correspondence (“Keep up the fight”) with Karl Rove while Rove was still in the White House.McCain has the AP in his pocket.Remind me about the liberal media bias again?

  3. Tony

    Nice links Steve!

  4. O-FISH-L

    Biden must be thrilled to be on the ticket with “the first mainstream African-American who is articulate and bright and clean and a nice-looking guy.”

  5. Aaron Read

    Well, I’m terrified that Biden will say something REALLY stupid at a critical moment, as his public image dictates he inevitably will.On the other hand, I liked how Biden…in his first speech as VP nominee…threw down the gauntlet on McCain pretty hard. Hammering the seven house thing (a weak yet easy-to-understand attacking point) and the McCain=ThirdTermForBush point pretty hard. By God that’s what Obama really NEEDS. Some good ol’ fashioned mud-slinging. :-)BTW, did anyone notice NPR’s attempt to be “balanced” by bringing Alex Conant, nat’l press secretary of the RNC, on the air right after Biden finished speaking? Conant wasted no time spending five solid minutes spewing half-truths and attacks against both Obama and Biden. Now I don’t really blame Conant for that, given what his job is. I do blame NPR for even trying to have a “regular interview” with Conant. Gimme a break, why was that flack even allowed on the air? If you’re going to have “analysis” about a speech, at least have the stones to get someone who’s at least somewhat impartial? Yeesh. I was not happy to hear that partisan crap going out on my station’s airwaves.

  6. Tony

    I don’t listen to NPR. Can’t stand it at all.

  7. Bill Toscano

    Dan: I am surprised you think that McCain could even consider picking Romney.I mean Massachusetts is lost already, but has a state ever unanimously voted against a presidential candidate?;)Seriously, I think the Biden selection and “I don’t know how many hosues I own” has absolutely sunk Romney.In addition, his religion is as much an issue as Obama’s race, McCain’s age and Biden’s “another white guy-ness.”The only way McCain will have a shot is with Jindal, but he does not have the caljones to do it, and the party bigwigs will talk him out of it.He must pick someone his supporters know will be a good president, because he’s not gonna last the term, and the Republicans have already rejected Romney.

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Bill: I had never heard Jindal speak before his appearance on “Meet the Press” last week. I found his junior chamber of commerce patter to be a real turn-off. McCain has no good options, but I continue to think that Romney is his least-bad possibility.

  9. mike_b1

    As George Stephanopolous pointed out this a.m., Obama is polling about 79% of the Dem vote right now. He gets that up over 90% — which is what Clinton, Gore and Kerry all got — and he wins in a walk.

  10. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I believe you just told us that if Obama gets more votes than McCain, he’ll win the election.Sarcasm aside, did G.S. say how much of the Dem vote Kerry and Gore were polling at this stage of the campaign?

  11. Steve

    Dan – I heard those GS comments, too, and the nub of it was that Obama had a larger percentage of undecided *Democrats* than Gore or Kerry (or Bill Clinton) at this stage. Democrats should be low-hanging fruit for Obama – much easier to convince than independents.

  12. mike_b1

    Dan, not sure why my post merited sarcasm, and your response glossed over the nuance. That Obama is far behind where the previous four Dem candidates (Kerry, Gore and B. Clinton 2x) ended up among Democratic voters is a significant observation and not one I had previously heard. (For all the talk about whether Hilary Clinton supporters are/are not embracing Obama, this — in part — quantifies it. We stats guys appreciate that.)GS did not report where any other Dem candidates were at this point among their base. If I had to guess, they were likely higher as at this point in the race (10+ weeks to go) none of them were still dealing with the aftermath of a downed rival.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    Mike: I may have misunderstood the context. It struck me that you were saying 79 percent among Dems is no big deal, because he will, inevitably, be up over 90 percent before too long. Which, I hope you’ll agree, is not necessarily the case.

  14. mike_b1

    I think you’re right: there’s no guarantee Obama will win over that group of disaffected Dems. But just who makes up that group is the question.Certainly some of them are from the Clinton wing. Women made up 54% of those who cast votes in 2004, and they tend to favor the Democrats, so it’s a critical demographic for Obama. From where I stand, he is more likely than Old Man McCain to get them, despite how they may feel about the alleged (mis)treatment of Hillary, because they ultimately will remember that McCain is anti-woman.The group that concerns me more are lower class, white male union workers who while traditionally Democrats can’t stomach voting for a black.

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