Andrew Bolt and Tim Blair have both picked up on a report that Barack Obama’s visit with troops in Iraq was stage-managed. They are both careful to issue caveats about the source:
BOLT: This is only a claim by an anonymous source, but …
BLAIR: but in this case, the accusations may – may – turn out to be accurate. Let’s wait and see.
It’s interesting that a single blog post quoting an anonymous source is considered worth reporting at all – until you consider how readily it fits into the existing narrative these columnists have attempted to create about Obama. The aim of this kind of post seems pretty clear – it is to let their readers use this vague and unconfirmed report to confirm their existing opinions of Obama:
Who the hell did the yanks elect? Kim Jong-Obama?
So we now have spin and Communist-era like staged demonstrations of approval to shore up Obama.
It wouldn’t surprise me if the story turned out to be accurate. Obama has shown definite signs of a pathological need for approval, and his posse show no scruples in arranging it for him.
That whole Obama meets the troops scene in Iraq looked odd. Now we know why. Obama’s earlier meetings with soldiers were notably cold. You could sense very few saw the man as commander in chief. The footage of glum faced soldiers contrasted with the warmth shown in the presence of Bush (and indeed, nearly every one of his predecessors).
The problem with Obama’s Iraq scene was that the grins were too big, the cheering to exuberant – not unlike a TV studio audience responding to a prompt. Initially, I thought it was due to the disproportionate number of black faces, the exaggerated behaviour an African-American cultural trait.
It turns out to be a plastic turkey.
But Bolt is not content to stop at throwing a shaky allegation at his readers – instead, he needs to inject his own observations:
… it may also explain the marked racial profile of the soldiers lined up behind Obama as a happy-TV backdrop.
Once again, visually identifiable ethnicity seems to be a crucial factor in Bolt’s interpretation of events. The notion that the US military is ethnically and culturally diverse doesn’t even seem to occur to him. It must be stage-management.
But then Bolt draws on another source to take another dig at Obama, pointing to this polling trend in Rasmussen’s tracking poll:
It’s interesting that Bolt drew on the Rasmussen data but makes no mention of the Gallup tracking poll:
Both polls show a similar trend in Obama’s rising disapproval ratings – perhaps not surprisingly, given that there was little to disapprove of before he took office and started making enacting policy – but they started from a very different point so that the net approval-disapproval picture looks very different across pollsters. Without detailed information about the question wording and polling methodology, it is hard to tell exactly why the poll sources might differ in their results, although this comment from Nate Silver about stimulus package polling might be relevant:
Why the stark difference between Rasmussen and, say, Democracy Corps? Both are applying a likely voter methodology, whereas Gallup and most of the other polls on the stimulus are surveying all adults. I understand the argument that likely voters are the ones who matter from the standpoint of electoral politics — but determining who is and who isn’t a likely voter when there is no election at hand is a little abstract for my tastes. (Are these people who are likely to vote 2010? In 2012? People who were likely to have voted in 2008? Or what?)
But it seems Bolt has no problem with picking tidbits from an anonymous source, then coupling it with data from one polling source while ignoring discrepant results from another pollster. Not when he can use it to feed his existing spin about Barack Obama, anyway.