Kantor brings in the snark: On the front page of yesterday’s New York Times, Jodi Kantor brought in the snark.
She was snarking hard—at Barack Obama. We’d call it a change in the weather.
The press corps’ coverage of Big Major Dems changed with Obama’s arrival. From 1992 on, Big Democrats had largely been covered on the Bill Clinton model.
Their truthfulness was always in question. Candidate Gore was the world’s biggest liar. Candidate Kerry was a hopeless flip-flopper, even when he wasn’t flip-flopping.
Hillary Clinton was Hillary Clinton. Barack Obama was not.
Yesterday, Kantor brought in a mountain of snark. Her 1900-word front-page profile stressed what a self-impressed asshole Barack Obama is.
For the first time, we saw Obama being profiled on some of the Clinton/Gore frameworks. Kantor’s profile contrasted sharply with Michael Barbaro’s stenographic front-page profile of Romney, published just four days before.
Kantor really let it go. She even made a point to tell us how often Obama has played golf while in the White House. (On average, once every two weeks—though Kantor didn’t break her big number down that way.) She calls in shape-shifting Matthew Dowd to say that George Bush was full of himself, just the way this asshole is.
Trust us—this represents a change in the weather. Obama is an insufferable asshole! That's what Kantor keeps telling the world in this otherwise pointless profile:
KANTOR (9/3/12): When Mr. Obama was derided as an insufferable overachiever in an early political race, some of his friends were infuriated; to them, he was revising negative preconceptions of what a black man could achieve.Obama even insults his aides about the way they play cards! In addition to all that golf, he practices bowling when he ought to be working! He can’t even read a story to kids without behaving this way!
But even those loyal to Mr. Obama say that his quest for excellence can bleed into cockiness and that he tends to overestimate his capabilities. The cloistered nature of the White House amplifies those tendencies, said Matthew Dowd, a former adviser to President George W. Bush, adding that the same thing happened to his former boss. ''There's a reinforcing quality,'' he said, a tendency for presidents to think, I'm the best at this.
And though Mr. Obama craves high grades from the electorate and from history, he is in a virtual dead heat with Mr. Romney in national polls, the political equivalent of school progress reports.
For someone dealing with the world's weightiest matters, Mr. Obama spends surprising energy perfecting even less consequential pursuits. He has played golf 104 times since becoming president, according to Mark Knoller of CBS News, who monitors his outings, and he asks superior players for tips that have helped lower his scores. He decompresses with card games on Air Force One, but players who do not concentrate risk a reprimand (''You're not playing, you're just gambling,'' he once told Arun Chaudhary, his former videographer).
His idea of birthday relaxation is competing in an Olympic-style athletic tournament with friends, keeping close score. The 2009 version ended with a bowling event. Guess who won, despite his history of embarrassingly low scores? The president, it turned out, had been practicing in the White House alley.
When he reads a book to children at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, Mr. Obama seems incapable of just flipping open a volume and reading. In 2010, he began by announcing that he would perform ''the best rendition ever'' of ''Green Eggs and Ham,'' ripping into his Sam-I-Ams with unusual conviction. Two years later at the same event, he read ''Where the Wild Things Are'' with even more animation, roooooaring his terrible roar and gnaaaaashing his terrible teeth. By the time he got to the wild rumpus, he was howling so loudly that Bo, the first dog, joined in.
Asked if there was anything at which the president allowed himself to just flat-out fail, Mr. Nesbitt gave a long pause. ''If he picks up something new, at first he's not good, but he'll work until he gets better,'' he said.
Mr. Obama's fixation on prowess can get him into trouble. Not everyone wants to be graded by him, certainly not Republicans. Mr. Dowd, the former Bush adviser, said he admired Mr. Obama, but added, ''Nobody likes to be in the room with someone who thinks they're the smartest person in the room.''
Finally, we're handed a phrase live-and-direct from the War Against Gore: Obama, the asshole described herein, seems to think he’s “the smartest guy in the room!”
Kantor’s work has always been worthless; what’s notable here is the change in the weather. By way of contrast, read the corresponding profile of Candidate Romney, in which fan-boy Barbaro did everything but lick the gentleman’s hindquarters for him.
He plainly recited every tale the Romney camp wants you to hear. Candidate Romney had to be persuaded to run for presdient!
Barbaro’s upbeat profile was pure stenography. In her corresponding piece, Kantor assembled a hack attack.
Each of those profiles was strikingly bad, but they diverged in opposite ways. We can’t explain those divergent profiles, but we’ll offer a word of warning:
This is the way the New York Times covered Candidates Bush and Gore. In that race, they started some twenty nonths out.
Are they tilting to that model now?