Barack Obama and John McCain may be running for President, but Gail Collins is running for Maureen Dowd. She writes,
Also, there was the problem of tone. McCain has sometimes been charged with sounding like a cranky neighbor yelling at kids to get off the lawn. This time, he turned into a cranky neighbor who hires you to cut his grass and then follows you around, pointing out blades that you missed.
While McCain was never violently opposed to offshore drilling, he has now embraced it as if it is not only the solution to our energy problems, but also the key to eternal salvation. Really, it’s a little scary. You can’t help wondering if he’s been captured by some kind of drilling cult.
And (continuing directly):
“We’re not going to pay $4 a gallon for gas because we’re going to drill offshore, and we’re going to drill now. We’re going to drill here. We’re going to drill now!” he told the bikers. McCain is not at his best when he’s trying to rally a large group of people. He pushes too hard and sometimes winds up sounding less enthusiastic than, um, loony. It was under this exact circumstance that he volunteered Cindy for the Miss Buffalo Chip contest, though I truly do not believe he knew about the topless part.
How silly. In a similar vein, another of the grand liberal pundits, Ruth Marcus, musters her inner literary critic to discuss Obama's "pivot" (nice basketball metaphor) to populism:
This turn to populism is not an extreme political makeover. Rather, it's a distinct tonal shift as the Democratic presidential candidate finishes a trip through three swing states — Michigan, Ohio and Indiana — where blue-collar voters aren't necessarily on board. Listen to Obama, and you hear the distant strains of Al Gore 2000: "the people versus the powerful."
Whether there is something inauthentic about this "pivot" Marcus doesn't bother to say (and she gives no reason to think it is inauthentic other than the use of the word "shift"). But she devotes an entire column to the idea that there is a shift, which must be a part of some kind of inauthentic strategy, or some kind of pander:
Obama circled back to our conversation when a questioner at yesterday's town hall meeting asked why he singled out oil companies. This time his answer ventured beyond refinery capacity and widgets.
"So the question is, does it make more sense for the oil companies to pay for it or does it make more sense for the struggling waitress who is barely getting by to pay for it?" he said. "And the answer is, I'm going to fight for the waitress, not because I hate the oil companies but because I think it's more fair."
Also, waitresses vote.
Perhaps no one but a cynical newspaper columnist would pretend to be surprised by the "tonal shifts" in stump speeches versus interviews with cynical newspaper columnists.