early and often

Obama, Rock Star, to Embark on Risky Overseas Tour


That’s right, I use Tide with bleach.”Getty Images

Next week, as John McCain is stuck in boring old America talking about jobs or gas prices or some other tired issue, Barack Obama will be greeted like a rock star by throngs of awed foreigners around the globe. While the details are still vague, Obama will visit Jordan, Israel and the West Bank, Iraq, Afghanistan, Germany, France, and Great Britain on his trip, which may as well be called “Barack Obama’s ‘Look, I’m Presidential’ Tour.” The media is already musing over the trip — which could turn out to be a blessing and a curse.

• Jim Rutenberg says the media seems much more interested in Obama’s overseas trip than the one John McCain made earlier this year: All three network evening anchors are scheduling interviews abroad and “star political reporters from the major newspapers and magazines” will be traveling with the campaign. The attention “feeds into concerns” by McCain and other Republicans that “that the news media are imbalanced in their coverage of the candidates, just as aides to Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton felt during the primary season.” [NYT]

• Jim Geraghty seems to agree with the media’s focus, positing that “Obama’s upcoming trip is newsworthy, if for no other reason than he’s barely done this sort of thing before.” But he wonders if the media will mention all the disagreements Obama may have with the foreign leaders he’ll be meeting with. [Campaign Spot/National Review]

• Josh Marshall calls the McCain campaign’s complaints about Obama’s media coverage a “new strategy of aggressive whining.” The Republican candidate has to face the fact that “[h]ardly anyone cares about McCain or his campaign. No one’s excited about it in any way,” and that’s not “an overstatement.” [Talking Points Memo]

• Chuck Todd and friends says that though the McCain campaign is griping, blanket coverage of his Sunni-Shiite gaffe would have been much worse had the media been focusing on his trip. The same goes for any gaffe Obama might make, which is “why his trip overseas presents both rewards and risks.” [First Read/MSNBC]

• Karen Tumulty believes that though Obama should receive an “exuberant welcome wherever he goes,” that can be a “double-edged sword.” John Kerry certainly wasn’t helped by his European support, and Obama “has already been portrayed by opponents as an out-of-touch elitist.” After “eight years of go-it-alone foreign policy, however, that line of attack may not be as successful.” [Time]

• Sabrina Tavernise and Richard Oppel Jr. write that as Obama prepares to visit Iraq there is “excitement” among Iraqis “over a man who is the anti-Bush in almost every way.” At the same time, many are worried that his plan for withdrawal “could lead to chaos.” [NYT]

• Bobby Ghosh suggests that while visiting Iraq Obama should “reach out to ordinary Iraqis and make his trip more meaningful.” He can meet with Iraqi journalists, “community leaders, NGO activists … the odd independent-minded politician,” and regular citizens who visit government offices inside the Green Zone. [Time]

• Diana West writes that Obama’s trip to Berlin is likely to comparisons to JFK, a prospect that pleases the campaign. But the speech in Berlin will be more about “perfect props” than “historical parallels.” [Washington Times]

• Christoph Peters thinks that German chancellor Andrea Merkel’s opposition to Obama’s speaking at the Brandenberg Gate is rooted in “an instinctive sympathy, perhaps rooted in her having grown up in East Germany, for such staunchly right-wing and rather gruff figures of American politics as George W. Bush and John McCain.” But many Germans “raise ironic eyebrows” when discussing an Obama speech at the gate “because they find such symbolic and emotionally charged events generally disconcerting.” At the same time, many favor the speech if it will help Obama. [NYT]

• Marc Ambinder wonders whether the McCain campaign will continue to attack Obama while he’s overseas, since a “frontal attack on Obama’s experience while he’s in harm’s way would strike many as tasteless, but not providing a response would be political malpractice.” McCain could leave the attacks to the third parties, or he could just “use the week to drill down on economic policy” as “he’ll have the whole country to himself.” [Atlantic] —Dan Amira

For a complete and regularly updated guide to presidential candidates Barack Obama and John McCain — from First Love to Most Embarrassing Gaffe — read the 2008 Electopedia.

Obama, Rock Star, to Embark on Risky Overseas Tour