Republicans and fellow travelers have been griping for about a week now about the coverage of Barack Obama’s trip abroad. They see it as unfair; they see it as favoritism. This point of view can be seen reflected in Robert’s cartoon of Wednesday.
But they’re missing an important point: Obama going abroad and meeting foreign leaders is news because it’s something new. John McCain going abroad to hang with foreign leaders is old hat, dog-bites-man stuff.
My point is sort of underlined by the results of the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, which finds Obama having a lead in a straight-up match, but McCain having a distinct advantage when it comes to whether voters are comfortable with the candidate’s background and values. As the WSJ reports today:
…With the nominations of both parties effectively settled for more than a month, the key question in the contest isn’t over any single issue being debated between the Democrats’ Sen. Obama or the Republicans’ Sen. John McCain. The focus has turned to the Democratic candidate himself: Can Americans get comfortable with the background and experience level of Sen. Obama?
This dynamic is underscored in a new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll. The survey’s most striking finding: Fully half of all voters say they are focused on what kind of president Sen. Obama would be as they decide how they will vote, while only a quarter say they are focused on what kind of president Sen. McCain would be.
The challenge that presents for Sen. Obama is illustrated by a second question. When voters were asked whether they could identify with the background and values of the two candidates, 58% said they could identify with Sen. McCain on that account, while 47% said the same of Sen. Obama. More than four in 10 said the Democratic contender doesn’t have values and a background they can identify with….
The bottom line is, folks are still making up their minds about Obama, so every move he makes is of high, relevant interest to voters. Both his detractors and admirers should welcome this.
I don’t know about you, but I decided what I thought about John McCain a long time ago. I thought he should have been nominated and elected in the year 2000, and I think we’d all be better off if that had happened. Yeah, I know some people have changed their minds about him since then, but I have not, nor have a lot of others.
But all of us — including those of us who like what we’ve seen so far — are still making up our minds about Obama. And I don’t know about you, but I’m going to be paying close attention to what all this intense scrutiny reveals, for good or ill, as I make up my mind for November.