Notice the picture at right. Study the layout and the people in it carefully. What is it saying? People magazine got a shot of Barack Obama on a beach in Hawaii, and put him next to pics of actors Hugh Jackman and Penelope Cruz. It means he has already won the swimsuit round of the Presidential Beauty Pageant. If you recall, the last Presidential candidates to be in picture-mags in their swimsuits in water were Reagan (People), John F. Kennedy (Life), and FDR (Life). One could look at this picture on a more symbolic level, as a baptism.
Barack Obama's Mainstream Media Kung Fu is better than previously thought; I'd give him an MPF 50 grade for his performance in an interview with the aggressively vapid Norah (blogsphere nickname: "Noron") O'Donnell, who tried to bait him into saying something catty. Using only one invisible hand, Barack managed to block every one of her moves, managing to sound completely honest, happy, and realistic. As he should be: he's already gaining nicely on Hillary, but is still behind among a composite of all voters.
BHO'S endurance and patience for media idiocy over the long haul will be absolutely crucial, since everybody from Camp Hillary to Fox Noise will be looking to bless Barack Obama with his very own Howard Dean Moment. He'll need a Teflon-level MPF grade of at least 80 and the right brand of classy deftness to deal with what they'll lay on him come November. But so far, so good. Here's the Today Show transcript:
MATT LAUER: We are back at 7:43, now to the run for the White House. On the Democratic side, Senator Barack Obama caused some political excitement when he got into the race. And this weekend he'll be back in the spotlight when he and Senator Hillary Clinton go head to head for the African-American vote at a civil rights commemoration in Alabama.
NBC's Norah O'Donnell caught up with Senator Obama.
Norah, good morning to you.
MS. O'DONNELL: Hey, good morning, Matt, and a surprise to report to you. Bill Clinton will now join his wife, Senator Hillary Clinton, this weekend. It's going to be his first major public appearance with her since she launched her campaign, and he's bringing some star power, just as Senator Barack Obama is gaining on Hillary Clinton in the polls.
(Begin videotaped segment.)
MS. O'DONNELL: Senator Obama, who could very well be the first African-American president, on Sunday will journey to Selma, Alabama.
SEN. OBAMA: Personally, this is important, because I trace my involvement in public life to the inspiration of the civil rights movement.
MS. O'DONNELL: With Senator Clinton also commemorating the march from Selma, it will be the latest showdown between the two front- runners, this time to win over black voters.
SEN. OBAMA: I don't take it for granted. I don't think Senator Clinton or any of the other candidates should take the African- American community for granted.
MS. O'DONNELL: A month ago, African-American voters heavily supported Clinton, but now favor Obama. Since his announcement, Obama has barnstormed 19 cities, raised millions and sliced in half Clinton's once sizable lead.
SEN. OBAMA: You know, I always am cautious about polls this early. I think they're volatile. You never know.
MS. O'DONNELL: His rise in the polls comes after Hollywood mogul David Geffen suggested Obama's strength is that he's not from the Bush royal family or the Clinton royal family, who have held the White House for the past 20 years.
(To Senator Obama.) Do you believe that there is a fatigue out there among the American people?
SEN. OBAMA: I wouldn't personalize it in that way. I do think that we're in a moment where the country is looking for something different.
MS. O'DONNELL: Geffen's remarks caused the first big fight between the Democrats. And now, for the first time, Obama admits his campaign may have gone too far.
(To Senator Obama.) So what did you learn from that?
SEN. OBAMA: What I told my staff is that I want all our statements to sound like me. And, you know, I tend -- I can mix it up.
MS. O'DONNELL: You seem to indicate that you're ready to hit back hard, but now you're saying maybe your campaign shouldn't have done that. I mean, how are you going to defend yourself?
SEN. OBAMA: You know, the best way to respond is with the truth, firmly and persistently.