I said a few posts down that Sen. Barack Obama hasn’t had much critical press yet. But I wonder how soon that will change.
Today’s Washington Post has an article headlined “The Green Gripe With Obama.” The gist:
The Democratic senator from Illinois gets stellar marks from greens. Just a few months ago he was calling global warming "real," saying: "It is here. . . . We couldn't just keep burning fossil fuels and contribute to the changing atmosphere without consequence."
So why then, environmentalists ask, is Obama backing a law supporting the expanded use of coal, whose emissions are cooking the globe? It seems the answer is twofold: his interest in energy independence — and his interest in downstate Illinois, where the senator's green tinge makes the coal industry queasy.
It’s a fairly thin story, running on A11, that essentially says, ‘Obama introduced a bill dealing with coal, and environmental groups don’t like it.’ But this is the scrutiny that a potential president gets, as opposed to a first-term junior senator from Illinois.
Similarly, Dana Milbank wrote a lot about Obama’s beach picture in People magazine. In detail. Perhaps a bit sneeringly or snippy, or perhaps oddly fixated on it:
There's Catherine Zeta-Jones in a teeny string bikini, Penelope Cruz in a cleavage shot on a boogie board, Jessica Alba in a skimpy fuchsia bandeau bikini, and hunky Australian actor Hugh Jackman shirtless in Nevis.
Then there's the junior senator from Illinois. Rounding out the Beach Babes spread is a New Year's Day photo of Barack Obama in the Hawaiian surf. We see his well-defined pecs, his perfectly hairless torso, just a bit of padding around the abs and a drawstring dangling from his form-fitting surfer trunks. The aspiring presidential candidate splashes through the water and squints into the distance; he is transformed into Burt Lancaster in "From Here to Eternity."
"I really appreciate you toting that around," Obama said with evident sarcasm yesterday when presented with the image as he left a news conference in the Senate TV gallery on ethics laws. "Thank you very much."
The senator was more appropriately attired, in a navy business suit and pale-blue tie, but he was uncharacteristically flustered as he sought to explain the photo.
"You know, it's uh —," he attempted.
And: "It's embarrassing."
And: "You know, I have no idea what beach it was taken on."
And: "It was, it was, it's uh, it's uh, paparazzi!"
Obama noticed that Jay Newton-Small of Bloomberg News was studying the image. "Stop looking at it!" he mock-scolded, and hustled away.
Newton-Small offered her critique. "He does look slimmer in his work suits," the young woman judged, but she allowed that he "looks good for his age."
Such candid photos — the People shot of Obama was, as the senator suspected, done by a paparazzi agency that People identified as Fame Pictures — can be damaging to a politician. Few can forget, try though they might, the Agence France-Presse photo nine years ago of a fleshy Bill and Hillary Clinton dancing on the beach in bathing suits. And the shots of John Kerry windsurfing in his skintight wetsuit proved poisonous to his presidential aspirations.
The Post also wrote that story about Obama’s long-ago cocaine use, and some people thought that article was a bit of a cheap shot on Obama, since there was not much of a news hook, other than, ‘experts say the revelation from the book that has been out for months may be an issue later in the campaign.’
Has somebody at the Post decided that Obama’s honeymoon is over?