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Post Partisan
Posted at 05:06 PM ET, 05/03/2012

Department of Wrong Answers (Media Hype Division)

As far as I can tell, David Weigel isn’t being sarcastic when he answers his own question about the political press’s reaction to David Maraniss’s new book about Barack Obama:

So instead of being welcomed for what it is, Maraniss's book is going to be minded for "potentially game-changing" anecdotes. Yesterday's blow-up gave us an idea of what the conservative media will do with the book. Expect 10,000 or so versions of this story: "Why didn't liberal media vet Obama and find out about his ex-girlfriend's diary?" It's actually a fair question (one answer: David Maraniss is better than most reporters), because the media took a lot for granted about Obama's life.

Wrong answer! The correct answer to “Why didn’t liberal media vet Obama and find out about his ex-girlfriend’s diary” is: his ex-girlfriend’s diary tells us nothing about what Obama would be like as president, and was therefore was only of minor relevance to the human interest portions.

Similarly, Politico’s Glenn Thrush and Dylan Byers are wrong when they claim that the Maraniss book is “a dangerous book for Obama,” although they certainly could be correct that the White House is (foolishly) worried about it. 

There’s a Republican-driven idea out there, one Sarah Palin is big on repeating, that Barack Obama wasn’t fully vetted by the press in 2008. It’s preposterous. The truth is that Obama has been the mainstream Democrat he ran as, and I’d guess that it’s very difficult to tie whatever idiosyncrasies he’s had within that to anything in particular about his personal history, and certainly not anything we didn’t know about in November 2008.

And as far as the 2012 election, it’s highly unlikely that anything new unearthed about Obama’s life before January 2009 will change anyone’s vote. People are going to vote on how he’s behaved in office, or at least the results they’ll attribute to him; they’re not voting on his life story. As political scientist Richard Skinner tweeted, “3 yrs into presidency, hard 2 see any revelation about his youth changing BO's image much.”

The bottom line, however, is that there’s plenty of stuff about Barack Obama’s presidency and his plans for a second term that the press could usefully report on. Anything that we’re going to learn about his life before then might be interesting, but doesn’t really have anything to do with the choice voters will be making this fall.

By  |  05:06 PM ET, 05/03/2012

 
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