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A reminder about Clinton, McCain, Obama and maybe ourselves

April 21, 2008 | 10:48 pm

For many years now Albert R. Hunt has toiled away as a journalist in the nation's capital, one of those pompous media types all over TV and print who think they know everything important and have seen everything political several times over. And anything that happens outside the Beltway is cute perhaps but not really relevant to what matters.

That's not at all true, of course. Well, his well-informed veteran status in Washington is true, but the rest of it is a caricature. Americans seem very fond of caricatures like that in these days of information overload. And the media sometimes plays a part in facilitating that.

Thinking in caricatures is like writing in shorthand, the way we do in text messages or e-mails now with OMGs, LOLs, BFF and c u. Seems to save time. Also saves thinking. You can seize on a couple of things to like or dislike about, say, a candidate and carelessly screen out anything else that doesn't fit the comfortable caricature you carry.

Funny we mention that because Hunt, who works over at our polling partners, Bloomberg.com, posted another of his more provocative columns today. And it dealt with a very helpful reminder about political caricatures as we approach the fourth month of the second year of the current presidential campaign.

Here's the opening:

"John McCain isn't a warmonger. He never said we'd be in Iraq for 100 years, and his war views, even if you don't agree with them, are coherent and consistent. Hillary Clinton isn't a coward. She didn't face sniper fire in Bosnia in 1996, though as first lady she did venture into a war-torn country.

"And Barack Obama isn't an elitist. When he graduated from Harvard Law School, he didn't join a Wall Street firm or serve on the board of a big company; he became a community organizer at a fraction of what he could have made."

The rest of Hunt's useful reminder is available here. We recommend it.

--Andrew Malcolm

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