“Rolling Stone” Gets Behind Barack Obama

anono | March 12, 2008 12:00 pm

Once again, we present Rock-Critically Correct, a feature in which the most recent issues of Rolling Stone, Blender, Vibe and Spin are given a once-over by an anonymous writer who’s contributed to several of those titles–or maybe even all of them! After the click-through, a look at the new issue of Rolling Stone:

And so, courtesy of a beatific cover illustration–complete with halo–Rolling Stone gets in the tank for Sen. Obama.

Keyboard Krybaby probably should have seen it coming, but he thought RS publisher/editor-in-chief Jann Wenner might have had a lingering loyalty to Sen. Clinton’s husband. Clearly though, Mr. Wenner took note of Obama’s Super Tuesday rout and concluded that this issue would hit stands last Wednesday, a day after his new “guy” was supposed to have taken the Ohio and Texas primaries and essentially the nomination.

Inconveniently, Sen. Clinton prevailed in those states and in Rhode Island. Thus the March 20 issue contains National Affairs Correspondent Matt Taibbi’s essay “Hillary’s Last Stand,” which commences with the sentence “It’s February 25th, T-Minus eight days until the end for Hillary Rodham Clinton, the most celebrated female martyr since Joan of Arc.” Equally unfortunately, Taibbi describes her “Alamo campaigns in Texas and Ohio” before they had concluded. A few “if this is indeed the end” qualifiers fail to cloak the essay’s now-silly looking intention.

While the piece more or less serves as a premature obituary, Taibbi makes a few good points. “The overall vibe of (Clinton’s) campaign,” he writes, “is now grounded in a kind of disbelieving outrage that a substanceless male charmer like Obama (or, one might add, her husband) could succeed in putting one over on so many people.”

Taibbi is not without sympathy for Clinton–or at least he is respectful of the fact that “the first campaign of a serious female presidential contender is different simply because it is.” He recognizes that many of Clinton’s female supporters identify with the various humiliations visited upon her, but concludes that her status as an irretrievably compromised creature of Washington and as an enabler of the war should trump any considerations vis-à-vis her gender. Fine stuff from Taibbi, as usual, but KK wonders if he has similarly trenchant observations about Obama that he must suppress in his role as Wenner’s hitman/ score-settler.

Rolling Stone presumably could not secure Sen. Obama for an interview, so the issue’s big reportorial presentation is Contributing Editor Tim Dickinson’s “The Machinery of Hope,” in which we learn of the candidate’s post-Howard Dean grass roots/social networking hybrid. But the issue’s centerpiece is the Rolling Stone endorsement, titled “A New Hope.”

Of course, the endorsement is written by Mr. Wenner. He says that he first learned of Sen. Obama from “a man who was at the highest level of George W. Bush’s political organization through two presidential campaigns” and one who told Wenner “that he would not work for any Republican candidate in 2008 if Obama was nominated.” It is very likely that the man to whom Wenner refers is Mark McKinnon, the chief media strategist for Bush’s presidential campaigns and a current McCain adviser who has made identical statements all over the place (McKinnon says he will support McCain from “the sidelines” in the event of Obama’s nomination). Wenner also says that Sen. Clinton “was” a bad manager and strategist, using the past sense and thus assuming her campaign would have expired by last week.

Wenner goes on to recount nearly every bromide common to Obama supporters: his guy “renounces the politics of fear,” “the similarities between John F. Kennedy and Barack Obama come to mind,” and that he’s “Lincoln-esque.” But RS‘ standard-bearer departs from the pack when he cites the most notorious passage in Obama’s 1995 autobiography Dreams From My Father: “he drifted through some druggy teenage years–no apologies!!–before emerging as a star at Harvard Law School.” Obviously, Mr. Wenner, whose prodigious appetites in this regard are detailed in Robert Draper’s Rolling Stone Magazine: The Uncensored History, clearly can get behind a guy who has said that getting high was “the point.”

Finally, “…in electing an African-American,” Wenner writes, “we also profoundly renounce an ugliness and violence in our national character that have been further stoked by our president in these last eight years.” Wenner returned to this meme as late as Monday night in his opening remarks at the induction ceremony of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, of which he is the chairman. After spectacularly clumsy, needless and patronizing references to blues music, its African-American practitioners and the debt all rock and rollers have to both, Wenner made an equally graceless and petty reference to how Sen. Clinton might have a problem with African-Americans getting their due.

Why? Because, even on a night that finds him and his cronies saluting the likes of Little Walter and Kenny Gamble and Leon Huff, Wenner has to make it about him and his bully pulpit.