Written By mista sense on Sunday, May 18, 2008 | 9:15 PM
Spiro T. Agnew might be a somewhat obscure figure to Americans, even if he was the 39th vice president of the United States, serving from 1969 to 1973--when he resigned in disgrace, amidst corruption charges. But he's not so obscure that his ghost isn't inhabiting the presidential campaign of Barack H. Obama.
While in the White House, Vice President Agnew became best known for his attacks on the news media--"nattering nabobs of negativism" was one favorite line as Agnew ripped into the media's coverage of Vietnam and other hot topics of four decades ago. Back then, it seemed to make sense for Agnew to attack the media; it was a stepping stone to his own presidential ambitions in 1976. Which, of course, were never realized, because Agnew was, after all, a crook, like his boss, Richard Nixon. But it wasn't a bad tactical plan for Agnew, because the press is always unpopular with somebody.
And now Obama is starting to sound like Agnew--blaming the press, or at least Fox News, for his misfortunes. Here's the way TV Newser summed it up, under the headline, "Obama Blames FNC For Likely Loss in Kentucky":
With two days before the vote, it appears Sen. Barack Obama is already conceding Kentucky and blaming his loss, in part, on Fox News Channel. Obama conducted a phone interview with the Lexington Herald-Leader's Ryan Alessi Friday. Alessi writes, Obama is "trying to 'reverse a lot of misconceptions' about his background" including his religion:
"Part of it is because there have been these e-mails that have been sent out very systematically, presumably by various political opponents, although I don't know who," he said. "And there are a lot of voters who get their news from Fox News. Fox has been pumping up rumors about my religious beliefs or my patriotism or what have you since the beginning of the campaign."
Clinton is expected to win handily in Kentucky, while Obama is ahead in the polls in Oregon. Voters in both states go to the polls Tuesday.
'Tis funny. First the Democrats tried to ignore Fox News. Then both Obama and Hillary Clinton started appearing on FNC air, breaking the attempted boycott of Fox demanded by Moveon.org and the lefty blogosphere.
But now, Obama is no longer ignoring Fox News, he is busy attacking Fox News. As long as they spell the name right, I guess Roger Ailes should think to himself.
Still, it's interesting to think about the alleged impact of Fox News. Can it really turn a whole state? In the Democratic primary? Wasn't that the job that MSNBC staked out for itself--be the "go to" network for Democrats, and to hell with Republicans? Could it be that gun-owning, God-fearing Democrats--the kind who "bitterly" resist enlightenment from the likes of Obama--really do like the earthy Fox News more than the limousine liberals at MSNBC?
In which case, where does that leave Obama for the general election? I mean, if he does win the Democratic nomination, as seems likely, won't he have to win Kentucky in November?
One would think Obama would try a different strategy, such as moving toward the center. But instead, he is replaying the Spiro Agnew playbook, of shooting--or at least shooting at--the messenger.
Maybe this press-bashing gambit will work for Obama, but it's worth recalling that the plan didn't work so well for Agnew.