Missing The Point On Losing Our Bearings
By: Mark W Adams

In an indication of things to come as shots are traded faster and faster between presidential campaigns, it's easy to miss the point -- or lack thereof -- when Barack Obama, John McCain and their surrogates trade barbs.

What we should all know and so many missed in the recent back and forth about Hamas preferring Obama and McCain losing his bearing is the simple fact that "Obama and McCain have the same position on Hamas —no talks, no recognition, no outreach."

Pay attention. The media may just throw this identity of position out there as a parenthetical as the Newsweek quote above. Or not, and ignore it for the more juicy yet wholly irrelevant coverage of whose zinger was more witty, or unfair.
It's easy to see how the presidential campaign could swiftly descend into tit-for-tat name-calling. Obama's advisers insist that the race will be about the big issues because there are stark contrasts between the candidates on Iraq and the economy. But if McCain thinks he can't win on those issues—if the war remains unpopular and the Bush downturn goes on—he will be sorely tempted to run down his opponent. The McCain campaign is now poring over Obama's record, looking for weaknesses that can be exposed without race-baiting or hitting below the belt. They want to brand Obama as a "superduper liberal who is out of the mainstream," says one McCain adviser who did not wish to be identified discussing internal campaign strategy.
Issues are boring, both to the electorate and the media. Even when the candidates are diametrically opposed on something it's difficult at best to both highlight those differences and make the case that Obama holds the superior position.

Forget about making noise when they see things the same way.

But on certain issues, it's vitally important that where they have no sunlight between them the GOP not get away with painting Obama as somehow weak or indecisive, or any of the standard canards they've been lobing at liberals for the past forty years.

Obama didn't hesitate to "fire" an "informal, outside" foreign policy adviser who spoke to Hamas as part of his real job in a conflict resolution think-tank, the International Crisis Group. [Just the sort of expert you might want some day to, you know, resolve the conflict there. No?]

The man's actions of course didn't comport with Obama's stated policy recognizing that Hamas is
a terrorist organisation [and] we should not negotiate with them unless they recognise Israel, renounce violence”.
I think it's partly the fact that the media will quite understandably lead with the most intriguing controversy de jure, and partly the subtle agenda Rupert Murdock's London Times which broke the story with a headling that Barack fired an Hamas friendly adviser -- engaging in a not-so-subtle attempt at undermining Obama's as he is trying to persuade pro-Israeli factions here and abroad that their suspicions he would negotiate with terrorists are unfounded. This kind of headline speaks volumes
Barack Obama sacks adviser over talks with Hamas
The fact that ABC's Jake Trapper uncritically passed the story along complete with the with an Americanized headline announcing to those who are susceptible to the GOP's preferred suggestion that he would be too cozy with an adviser who spoke to Hamas in nearly identical fashion means to me either he's a Fox News plant, or just lazy -- or both.
Obama Fires Foreign Policy Adviser for Meeting With Hamas
Now I ask you, do those headlines, or even a quick reading of their associated stories leave the reader with the facts? Has the public been educated about the candidates respective, or rather identical positions when it comes to Hamas by reporting on this story this way? Of course not.

Could Camp Obama emphasized this fact better? Sure. But the way McCain's people shifted the story into a silly cat-fight, and the media's inability to do anything but highlight spectacle over substance is a disheartening harbinger of what is to come in the next several months.