This is, even now, but a mini-train wreck, not even an H-O size train wreck, but more like a wreck involving those wooden Thomas the Tank Engine models, maybe between Percy and Duncan. Still, it’s depressing, and shows how far our political system and the media have sunk.
President Obama was campaigning in Ohio, and got conned into being part of a cheerleading-style array spelling out OHIO, except that he was in the wrong position, and ended up as the H in “OIHO.” This may have been legitimate fodder for Jon Stewart on a slow day, but otherwise was completely meaningless, and not worth the time it took to write or talk about it. Never mind, though: the conservative blogs and talk show mockers were out in force, pointing out that while the liberal media ridiculed Dan Quayle for misspelling “potato” and Michele Bachmann and Sarah Palin for any number of ridiculous statements, they readily excused Mr. Perfect because in their eyes he can do no wrong.
This, of course, was both stupid and ethically stupid. Yes, the media was unfair to Quayle—20 years ago!—whom it had decided was an idiot, and thus the potatoe incident was pure confirmation bias. No, the news media was not unfair to Bachmann and Palin, because in most of their historical gaffes they continued to assert that they were right anyway, and both are irresponsibly careless with facts and deserved to be called on it. Just because the news media was unfair in the case of Quayle would not justify it being unfair to Obama, and nobody, but nobody, really thinks he doesn’t know how to spell Ohio. Even Dan Quayle knows how to spell Ohio.
It all would have languished as but another example of nasty over-reach by conservative talk radio and the right-wing blogosphere if 1) the Romney campaign didn’t jump on the bandwagon, with a campaign spokesman tweeting about this less-than-trivial incident, and 2) the Washington Post hadn’t rushed to the President’s rescue, pronouncing that the picture was photoshopped. There was no good reason for the Post to do this, and no evidence to support it. Nonetheless, the Post’s completely unsupported allegation of a campaign dirty trick was picked up by other sources, like ABC’s Jake Tapper, until it became undeniable that the OIHO snapshot was genuine, and the Obama campaign sent out a correctly-staged version that spelled OHIO. Then the Post had to retract its accusation.
I don’t know which is more disgusting, Romney’s campaign stooping to such petty (pardon my French) bullshit, or the Post outing itself as a shameless partisan fixer for the Obama campaign, or, in the alternative, as so unprofessionally starry-eyed over the President that its reporters can’t conceive that reports of even his smallest errors are accurate. As an anti-Obama tweeter tweeted:
“What did they do here? Immediately jump to cover for The One, like the sycophants they always are. Oh, Barack! You can’t possibly ever make a mistake! You are so unprecedented and awesome and stuff. Also, so dreamy!”
And the Post deserves every word.
The whole thing is depressing.
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