According to the McCain campaign, the media have somewhat of a schoolgirl crush on Barack Obama.
For sure the Obama campaign did seem to pack up the worlds media on Obama Force One and jet them on a magical fairytale whirlwind tour of the world last week, with John McCain struggling for breathing space in the mainstream media as he spoke (from notecards) about the price of milk in a rural supermarket.
Now I don’t have any figures right now that show the media coverage each candidate has received, but I don’t think it is a huge leap to assume that it would be pretty one sided in Barack Obamas favour.
Which leads us to McCains problems – the man needs to stay relevant and he needs to stay in the headlines to avoid the risk of people forgetting there are actually two candidates in this race. But how?
Attacking the media is a bad idea. Stamping your feet up and down and demanding they pay you more attention is a bit like reading the eulogy of a campaign out loud. John Edwards did it as his campaign failed, Hillary lashed out before she dropped out and now McCain is doing it. If all else fails, blame the media.
I think the McCain camp should instead be counting their blessings that their candidate is not a prime time feature... because perhaps he isn’t a prime time candidate.
With greater presence in the media comes far greater scrutiny. The United States waited with abated breath for one tiny Obama misstep or misspeak during his world tour. His comments on NAFTA (not exactly a topic to get the heart racing) have been turned upside down and inside out. Every comment is unpacked and cross referenced with something he may or may not have said sometime around about 1972.
If McCain were receiving comparable scrutiny I think his senior strategist would be begging for the baying mob to stop and look at the other fella for a while.
Just in the past three weeks, McCain has mistaken "Somalia" for "Sudan," and even football’s Green Bay Packers for the Pittsburgh Steelers.
He spoke enthusiastically of a country that has not existed for over a decade (Czechoslovakia) and confused Germany for Russia. A YouTube clip from last year immortally memorialises McCain referring to Vladimir Putin of Russia — following a trip to Germany — as “President Putin of Germany.”
Then this Spring McCain said troops in Iraq were “down to pre-surge levels” when in fact there were 20,000 more troops than when the surge policy began. He has was also corrected by his friend and supporter, Joe Lieberman, when he twice appeared to mistake Sunnis and Shiites in Iraq, two branches of Islam that split violently
Ironically, the errors have been concentrated in what should be his area of expertise: foreign affairs.
I think the McCain campaign should be very careful what they wish for… because they might just get it.