As Chris Matthews and Ed Schultz's heads exploded at MSNBC, there prevailed considerable calm from Politico's Glenn Thrush and Maggie Haberman. Last night, Matthews was so worked up over the Cory Booker kerfuffle that he came within inches of declaring the Obama campaign irreversibly toasted; meanwhile, reported Thrush and Haberman, Democratic advisers "consider the Booker ... comments to be a sideshow that elevates the cable news chatter level but doesn’t hurt their overall message where they care about it, which is in the Midwest."
Schultz we should excuse. He means well; he's a good-hearted populist who seems to genuinely believe in the purely propagandistic concept of the "99 percent." It's that very passion, however, that corrupts his understanding of practical politics--and it shows. Matthews, though, should know better. He worked in the political rackets before starring in the cable rackets. The latter have evidently swamped his sense of perspective. Last night the poor man was so exercised over Booker's self-important sabotage of Obama's principal campaign message, he wrung his hands on-air for an additional live hour--only to watch Booker, on Maddow, about an hour later, offer a serviceable rebuttal of Republicans' typically instant overreach.
My point is a common, and perhaps even a superfluous, one: We no longer just follow political campaigns, we careen through them--we zig, zag, bounce off the walls and do Daffy Duck backflips and handsprings upon every news-cycle story: this is the one, the one game-changer, the explosive mutation that alters everything.
Until tomorrow, or later that day, or the next "tweet."
Meanwhile, the cable-news gurus who are forever bemoaning the loss of real debate about substantive, deep and deep-rooted issues in political campaigns remain forever fixated on each hour's supreme game-changer.
I'd wager if I were to stop the next hundred folks I met on the street and ask them who Cory Booker is, maybe, maybe one could tell me. This is what Barack Obama understands about American politics, and the gurus do not.