July 21st Editions of Newsweek & Time Pander as Obama Travels: One “Revisits” His “Spiritual Quest,” the Other Uses Mandela (and Fudges His Birthdate, Prints an Old Web Story as Current, and Uses a “Black Power” Fist to Illustrate) (Update 1X)

For some masochistic reason, I chose to pick up the July 21st edition of NEWSWEEK while waiting for my allergy shot on Thursday.  Who could miss it?  A huge close-up picture of Obama, apparently deep in solemn prayer, with a “Faith and Politics” teaser alongside.  The website also says “What He Believes:The Truth About Obama’s Faith.”

A few minutes later, I happened across the July 21st edition of TIME (scroll down for the link to the story). On its cover was a big closeup of Nelson Mandela, with the teaser, “Mandela at 90: The Secrets of Leadership.”

My curiosity was now piqued.  First, I wondered about the Newsweek issue.  OK, you might say, “How odd, Newsweek isn’t talking about THE TRIP, it chose to focus on religion.” But, with Obama’s mega-publicity foreign tour starting just about the time this issue appeared, I wondered (although I didn’t have to work very hard at it) if it was planned bolster Obama’s image here while he was overseas. My conclusions later…

Like many others in a waiting room, I didn’t have the time to read the entire piece then (not to mention those who would lose interest and moved on to “People”).  But I did notice the very serious highlighted sections in the magazine, starting with the opening “Top of the Week” page which featured “Obama’s Spiritual Quest” across the top.

Proceeding to page 26 to the article itself, which was entitled “Finding His Path,” I noticed that on page 25 there was a full-page portrait of Obama in profile, again looking very “spiritual” against a background of “stained glass” as he gazed forward with great solemnity.

From page 26 to page 32, the article by Lisa Miller and Richard Wolffe (Olbermann’s frequent sidekick) spews forth. On page 30, under a small heading which reads “World View,” there is the line “More a Matter of Mystery than Magic.”  Jon Meacham opines in this section that “It seems that for Obama, faith is about enduring questions.” And, of course, he associates Obama’s beliefs with Abraham Lincoln’s evolving faith and humility during the Civil War!

At this point I almost burst out laughing…we’ve been hearing about Obama’s “World View” all through his trip, which is looking a lot like the “Magical Mystery Tour” as it trundles on.  Did Newsweek have advance copies of Obama’s campaign objectives or did it come up with the heading “World View” and plug it in because it just had to go somewhere?

One of the “highlighted” quotations from the interview section that the reader sees reads:

“I’m a big believer not in not just words, but deeds and works.”

Coming from a guy who is mostly words with very little in the “deeds and works” department, this seems a poor choice to put into big print.  (But, then again, Newsweek is owned by the Washington Post Company, and the Post isn’t exactly blazing the way on great journalism when it comes to covering Obama.) Miller and Wolffe also opine that Obama  is now ” a little spiritually rootless” again since supposedly severing ties with Rev. Jeremiah Wright. OK…

If you put yourself in the shoes of the average person thumbing through the magazine, all the highlighted sections probably present a pretty glossy view of Obama and his beliefs. If a person didn’t read any further, they’d see Obama as a serious, serious man, indeed! Mission probably accomplished, at least in waiting rooms? And if the reader DOES delve into the entire article, he or she will get the same impression! Did you know, for example, that Obama was “monkish” while in New York?

After page 32 I figured I’d see a section on John McCain’s spirituality, since the cover had said that this was a an edition of Newsweek focusing on “Faith in Politics.”  Well, there was no such section on McCain, I suppose since he’s was raised as a plain vanilla Episcopalian (now calls himself a Baptist)  who doesn’t flaunt religion every time he opens his mouth. And, although McCain recently gained the endorsement of 100 religious leaders during a meeting in Denver, McCain has had to work at getting it since the “religious right” hasn’t been wildly enthusiastic about him.  In the meantime, Obama has had his meetings with mega-pastors and Christians who are ex-officials from Bush’s Justice Department and apparently has been giving CBN’s David Brody “scoops.”

So, I guess Newsweek figured Obama was the way to go in the “let’s do religion” department. And, of course, the serious nature of the piece turns out to be a great way to remind the reader how “weighty” Obama is as he travels overseas.

And what DID Newsweek write about on McCain?  “Vietnam Loves John McCain” was the story in the “International” section that followed the Obama spread.  Well, I’m sure that’s very nice, but what does it have to do with “Faith and Politics”?  My immediate reaction was that it further “pigeon-holed” McCain as being a relic from the past.  After all, except for us aging baby-boomers, who knows anything about Vietnam?  It’s just another irrelevant piece of history that McCain can be saddled with, right? Obama himself said the Vietnam war had nothing to teach anymore and that it was time to move on in that infamous Las Vegas interview before the Nevada primary. Newsweek’s choice of bringing up Vietnam seems stuck in that  “OLD and from the PAST” frame re: McCain as well.

Furthermore, a great deal of the article goes back and forth on the arguments over whether the torture was or wasn’t used in the prisons where McCain and other U.S. soldiers were held.  What’s the point? To cast doubt on McCain’s war experiences while Obama prances around Europe?

Now getting irritated, I turned to TIME to peruse the Mandela story.  Opening to the article, guess what I found on the page facing the start of the piece?  A raised, black fist in the old “black power” gesture.  Wow, that brought back old times…And, that picture is NOT on the website, just in case you are wondering.

Of course, CNN just happened to air “Black in America”  week on July 23 and 24 as Obama did Germany. Gee, who owns CNN and Time? (Yup, Time-Warner, the largest media company in the world.)

MMM…

The Time story in the print edition, which focused on “Eight Lessons from One of History’s Icons”  begins with a passage about how Mandela’s 90th birthday is coming NEXT WEEK (which would be the week of July 28th, right?). So, I figured, why wouldn’t Time actually publish this cover story NEXT WEEK, instead of the week when Obama was overseas charming the locals?

I flipped through the article, but I never found an EXACT DATE for Mandela’s birth.  Now, I wondered, why is that??

So, I did some research and found, in every place I looked, that Mandela’s birthdate is apparently JULY 18th!  Which means, it would have been BEFORE Obama’s trip.  Wouldn’t you figure that Time would publish the Mandela cover and story in the July 14th issue–only a few days BEFORE Mandela’s birthday?

And, what’s with the statement that Mandela’s birthday was coming up, rather than being already over??

Ah, but look! On the web version of the article, the publication date is: Wednesday, July 9, 2008.  BUT THERE WAS NO OBVIOUS MENTION of this in the print edition and NO EXPLANATION of why the story was published in print a week and half later to coincide with Obama’s trip and AFTER Mandela’s birthday.

I must have been subconsciously rebelling against all this (well as consciously rebelling!) , because in writing this piece, I’ve been repeatedly spelling “Newsweek” as “Newseek.”

…which is what these two rags seem to have been doing…looking for anyway possible to bolster Obama’s image as he rolls through the Middle East and Europe. Obama’s religious quest and Nelson Mandela…can’t do any better than that!

Update…Oops, Time just reported the “leak” of  Obama’s “private prayer” at the Western Wall!

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Related Posts:

Part 1: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests–Non-Pastors (UPDATED 1x)

Part 2: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests–The Pastors

Matthew 25 Network PAC Hits Christian Radio with Pro-Obama Ad as Christian Conservative Leaders Decide to Support McCain (UPDATED 1X)

Matthew 25 Network PAC Hits Christian Radio with Pro-Obama Ad as Christian Conservative Leaders Decide to Support McCain (UPDATED 1X)

David Brody of the Christian Broadcasting Network is apparently Obama’s chief water carrier for Obama’s hard press to win evangelicals. As reported in my earlier post (Part 1 of 2 on Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests), Brody and CBN got the first heads up about Obama’s June meeting with religious conservatives in Chicago. Now, Brody is reporting disseminating a press release from the Matthew 25 Network PAC which heralds his new radio ad on Christian radio.

In a story dated July 1 with the title “Barack Obama Radio Spot Hits Christian Radio,” Brody writes:

Now playing on Christian radio: Barack Obama!

The Brody File has learned that the Matthew 25 Network which is a religious political action committee supporting Obama has put together a radio ad in which Obama’s faith is highlighted. And get this….they are airing it on Christian radio in Colorado Springs, the home to James Dobson and Focus on the Family.

You can listen to the radio ad here.

Note the exclamation point at the beginning…a mark of Brody’s true journalistic professionalism…not.

Brody then quotes some of the accompanying press release:

The Matthew 25 Network today launched an initial radio ad campaign to reach Christian voters with Obama’s positive message of how faith informs his life and enhances dialogue in the public square.

The ad entitled “From his Heart,” comes on the heels of Senator Obama’s historic speech earlier today about the instrumental role faith communities play in caring for the “least of these” in our society and the importance of public partnerships with faith-based programs that have proven track records.

The Matthew 25 Network ad will first run in Colorado Springs, CO, home of James Dobson who garnered much media attention last week for attacking Senator Obama’s faith. The group will run run ads in Ohio, Michigan, Virginia, and other swing states.

Dobson had accused Obama of “distorting the Bible” in a speech in late June.

Brody goes on to provide the script of the radio spot, which he finds impressive, but also states that another group may start running ads in opposition:

I think the ad is EXTREMELY strong.

It stays away from public policy and really focuses in his personal commitment to Christ. That is a type of message that Evangelicals will want to hear.

The flip side here is that another group may start running radio spots on Christian radio detailing Obama’s liberal positions on issues which may conflict with some Evangelicals.

McCain has also been courting evangelicals since many don’t think he “shares their values.” However, in a story reported by Mark Halperin of Time yesterday (7/2/08), conservative leaders meeting on Tuesday in Denver agreed to support John McCain. We’ll now have to see how many of the pastors and other religious leaders who attended Obama’s pow-pow will wind up supporting him versus McCain.

By the way, one of these new McCain supporters is Steve Strang, who runs Strang Communications “a multi-media communications company focused on spreading the name and fame of Jesus throughout the world through the mass media” which publishes 7 magazines and also publishes books. Steve Strang is the father of Cameron Strang, who runs Relevant Media Group which targets “young adult Christians” and whom I profiled in Part 1: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests–Non-Pastors.

Anyway, it looks like we’re in for a load of religion coming our way. Oh, boy. And maybe “religious wars.” I can’t even stand the thought of this stuff hitting us until November, while other issues go by the board.

UPDATE July 9, 2008

Also attending this meeting–Steve Strang, the father of Cameron Strang. See his latest report where he discusses his attendance at thethe meeting with Obama and the Denver meeting. Steve Strang was the only one to attend both. In his report, Strang senior says his son got a phone interview with Obama (which he says made Obama sound more moderate), but he is still trying. He provides a link to Cameron’s report on his interview with Obama which apparently occured on July 1.

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For more background on Obama’s religouis push:

So, What’s Obama Going to Give Away to Conservative Religious Leaders and Constitutional Law Profs Who Work with Ken Starr??(Just Say No Deal)

Part 1: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests (Non-Pastors)

Part 2: Obama’s Conservative Meeting Guests–The Pastors

So, What’s Obama Going to Give Away to Conservative Religious Leaders and Constitutional Law Profs Who Work with Ken Starr??(Just Say No Deal)

I’m not one of the faith crowd, preferring quiet meditation and the study of Eastern philosophies.

So, it’s really off-putting to see Obama “reaching out” to the likes of a mega-church pastor and a pro-life consitutional law professor, namely mega-pastor TD Jakes and conservative Catholic constitutional lawyer Doug Kmiec.

Obama meets

To quote David Brody of CBN (Christian Broadcasting Network):

This is one more example of how Obama is not just bringing in the ‘religious left’ into his coalition. He wants to bring in conservative figures, too.

If this were a meeting held by a strong, separation-of-church-and-state politican, I wouldn’t be so jittery. But Obama is no such thing. He is a panderer who’s chosen to brush off key groups of Democratic voters. It’s hard to trust his actions when it comes to meeting conservative religious figures.

T.D. Jakes, according to his website

… pastors what Christianity Today calls “one of America’s fastest growing mega-churches.” The Potter’s House, a multiracial, nondenominational church with 50-plus active outreach ministries, has dominated church growth records since its inception in 1996. In its almost 10-year existence, the church has grown from the 50 families that relocated with the Jakes family from West Virginia to Dallas to more than 30,000 members to-date. Rivaling many corporations, the ministry employs nearly 400 staff members, including full-time finance, human resources, information technology, materials distribution, public relations, publications and television production departments. The Potter’s House is fiscally sound, retiring within four years the financial debt incurred by the 191,000 square foot, $45 million sanctuary construction.

On a personal level, this rings alarm bells. A family member has dragged my relatives into a “non-denominational church” in NJ where it’s all about following a single personality. The church has grown to the point of building a huge facility that looks like a car dealership. They even offer “Christian counselling” for about $100 bucks an hour. Meanwhile, there seems to be very little “Jesus” in a lot of the activities that are ongoing, along with a remarkable lack of interest shown toward relatives who are not involved with the church. One could say that the “believers” have cut out those who don’t believe. It is quite disconcerting, to say the least.

Doug Kmiec should make any liberal nervous. He is a member of the faculty of Pepperdine University School of Law which, according to the Dean:

…is committed to the “highest standards of academic excellence and Christian values, where students are strengthened for lives of purpose, service, and leadership.”

And who is the Dean of Pepperdine’s School of Law? Remember KEN STARR?

Kmiec also has a highly visible political past:

Beyond the university setting, Kmiec served Presidents Ronald Reagan and George Bush during 1985-89 as constitutional legal counsel (Assistant Attorney General, Office of Legal Counsel, U.S. Department of Justice).

Somehow, this information doesn’t make me feel warm and fuzzy…

In a follow-up article on the Obama meeting, Brody writes:

That’s a big deal. A really big deal. The fact that these two conservative men are meeting with Obama may be a signal that Obama’s campaign is ready to break down the traditional wall of separation between conservatives and liberals when it comes to religious talk.

This meeting with Obama is made up of religious leaders from several denominations including Evangelicals, Mainline Protestants and Catholics. There are about 30 people there and these are leaders from Chicago and outside Chicago. Some in the meeting have shown their support for him. Others have not. I’m told that the meeting consisted of prayer as well and it lasted two hours. A campaign source tells me that besides Jakes and Kmiec, other religious leaders in the room today include Religious leaders include Rich Cizik with the conservative National Association of Evangelicals, best selling Christian author Max Lucado, Luis Cortes, Paul Corts, Cameron Strang, Bishop Phillip Cousin, Rev Stephen Thurston, Glenn Palmberg and Dr T Dewitt Smith. This campaign source tells me:

“Reaching out to the faith community is a priority for Barack Obama and will be a priority under an Obama Administration. This is one of several meetings he will have over the coming months with religious leaders.”

There may be a “wall” between the two groups, but there certainly has been dialogue with many inter-faith activities for years. So to build up Obama’s meetings as “a signal that Obama’s campaign is ready to BREAK DOWN the traditional wall” seems to me to be an indicator that more is going on here…that some influential conservative religious leaders are “in the tank” for Obama already and starting the sell to their large group of followers. I’ve read that in Washington state, fundamentalists were already on board during the primaries, so things have been cooking for quite awhile.

The question is…WHAT DEALS ARE GOING TO BE CUT, IF THEY HAVEN’T BEEN CUT ALREADY?

Is this going to be like Bush’s Faith office in the White House, which funneled tons of taxpayer money to religious groups??

I mean, first crack out of the barrel, Obama is in with the religious angle…I don’t see him rushing to talk to women, do you??

Brody and CBN seem to be really in the loop, because it was CBN that first reported the launching of Obama’s “Joshua Generation Project” in an exclusive by Brody on June 6 (.

The Brody File has learned that in the next two weeks Barack Obama’s campaign will unveil a major new program to attract younger Evangelicals and Catholics to their campaign.

It’s called the “Joshua Generation Project.” The name is based on the biblical story of how Joshua’s generation led the Israelites into the Promised Land.

A source close to the Obama campaign tells The Brody File the following:

“The Joshua Generation project will be the Obama campaign’s outreach to young people of faith. There’s unprecedented energy and excitement for Obama among young evangelicals and Catholics. The Joshua Generation project will tap into that excitement and provide young people of faith opportunities to stand up for their values and move the campaign forward.”

The official rollout won’t be for another two weeks or so, but The Brody File has been told the activities will include house parties, blogging, concerts and more.

This really creeps me out! My first thought on reading this was of those ads for Christian music CD’s that you see on TV–you know, the ones with young people waving their arms and looking like they are in a trance. Perfect. I bet we’ll see fainting again…More cultish behavior coming down the pike.

I swear, if I hear that the Promise Keepers are getting involved, I’ll be ready to flee the country.

As time goes on, I suppose the Obama blogs will embrace all this without a flicker of concern. I guess there are a lot of ways to practice “blind faith…”

Over at the BlackAgenda Report, the reporter was casting a different light on “self-proclaimed Joshua candidate” Obama back in April:

Barack Obama & Voter Supression: Where’s Joshua’s Horn When We Need It?

Self-proclaimed “Joshua generation” candidate Barack Obama launched his political career with a highly successful 1992 Chicago voter registration drive. But instead of barriers to ballot access on the part of minorities tumbling down on “Joshua’s” watch they are becoming higher. Where is Joshua’s trumpet on the erosion of voting rights, the legal sanctions and limitations placed upon present-day voter registration drives, and the wholesale ethnic cleansing of voter rolls?

I guess the writer of this observation isn’t one of those ready to fall into a trance when the music starts playing…

Just Say No Deal