Just a few days ago, Paul Krugman had an interesting item on his blog on the media’s coverage of the presidential campaign as the dominant story shifts from a heated primary race to the general election. When the focus was on Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, it was in the media’s interest to exaggerate differences between two candidates who agree on almost everything. With the focus shifting to Obama and John McCain, it should make the media’s job easier — there are, as Krugman noted, “stark differences on issues between the candidates.”
I assumed that Obama and McCain are so different — personally, ideologically, professionally, temperamentally — the media just can’t screw this up.
I stand corrected. The LA Times ran an editorial the other day, noting that we “might be surprised at the breadth of issues on which they largely agree.”
Some might complain that this means voters will have little to choose between in November. We say: Welcome to the middle, candidates. We hope you stick around here once you’re in office, unlike the White House’s current occupant.
Specifically, the Times pointed to general agreement between Obama and McCain on national security policy (both want a bigger military and oppose torture), immigration (both want comprehensive reform, including a “pathway to citizenship”), environmental policy (both want to create a cap-and-trade program for greenhouse gases), and social issues (both oppose gay marriage and support stem-cell research).
Bloomberg ran a similar news item, insisting that on global warming, immigration, government transparency, and Guantanamo Bay, Obama and McCain are not only in agreement, but are “probably” more aligned “than any major-party candidates since 1976.”