A few posts back (and for a couple of posts) I remarked on the tendency of "liberal" pundits to separate themselves from the "liberal" candidate by frequently criticizing him or her, usually for failing to look enough like the conservative candidate. Yesterday Ruth Marcus provided another excellent example of this–going after one of Obama's campaign lines for "misrepresenting" John McCain's record. I wouldn't quibble with the criticism, my view is that no one should misrepresent anything. But there is a question of scale.
We have on the one hand Obama, in Marcus's world guilty of a straw man for not criticizing the strongest versions of McCain's one-time social security plan (Obama said had McCain had his way, many people would now be in dire straits–when in reality, only had this crisis happened a few years on, would people be in dire straits on account of McCain's plan–oops!). Obama probably is guilty of that logical offense. It's an offense nearly too typical, in my estimation, for one even to remark upon. Candidates thrive by knocking down weak versions of each others' policy positions. Obama didn't need to do it, however, as his point was independent of the specific facts of the case–in a privatized social security market, he had been saying, this is the sort of thing that could really doom us. And no doubt he's right about that.
But that's not my point. Marcus, for some reason, wanted to even the truthiness playing field, where McCain and Palin lie repeatedly and without apparent consequence about nearly everything, and Obama misrepresents McCain's position once. Marcus bent over backwards for apparent even-handedness.
To my very great and growing surprise, however, Marcus's righward colleagues, usually lockstep in their defense of their guy, have shown me to be astoundingly and thankfully wrong. Here, for instance, is George Will:
Conservatives who insist that electing McCain is crucial usually start, and increasingly end, by saying he would make excellent judicial selections. But the more one sees of his impulsive, intensely personal reactions to people and events, the less confidence one has that he would select judges by calm reflection and clear principles, having neither patience nor aptitude for either.
It is arguable that, because of his inexperience, Obama is not ready for the presidency. It is arguable that McCain, because of his boiling moralism and bottomless reservoir of certitudes, is not suited to the presidency. Unreadiness can be corrected, although perhaps at great cost, by experience. Can a dismaying temperament be fixed?
Ouch. Notice also for a moment the huge difference between Will and Marcus. Marcus takes Obama to task all of the time (and for the stupidest of reasons–such as he's not "regular" enough); Will, if you look at his recent posts (and search our Will archive) has almost never directly challenged the rightward guy. He's made, in fact, a rather valient effort in recent days to make McCain's case (arguing, in one instance, that maybe one should not think about the economy, since life has so much else to offer than just money).
There goes my theory about the right wing pundit corps, my theory of the non-existent left wing pundit corps still stands, for the moment.