Next Week: The Overseas Obama Extravaganza

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The three network anchors will travel to Europe and the Middle East next week for Barack Obama’s trip, adding their high-wattage spotlight to what is already shaping up as a major media extravaganza.

Lured by an offer of interviews with the Democratic presidential candidate, Brian Williams, Charlie Gibson and Katie Couric will make the overseas trek, meaning that the NBC, ABC and CBS evening newscasts will originate from stops along the route and undoubtedly give it big play.

John McCain has taken three foreign trips in the past four months, all unaccompanied by a single network anchor… Some 200 journalists have asked to accompany Obama on the costly trip, which will include stops in Iraq and Afghanistan, but the campaign will be able to accommodate only one-fifth that number.

There are rumblings among the punditry (see MSNBC’s First Read, for example) that Obama is risking the appearance of arrogance: the tour through Europe feels like a victory tour and the visits with Iraqi and Afghani leaders in front of thousands of cameras seem to ignore the fact that Obama doesn’t have much of a record here — he has only been to Iraq once before, and he has never visited Afghanistan. The right is already using this line against him. Charles Krauthammer today: “The Audacity of Vanity.”

I’m of the mind that if Obama can appear cool, comfortable, and presidential in a foreign environment, it will underscore his capability at a moment where there are doubts about McCain’s. While no one is going to believe that Obama has impeccable foreign policy credentials because he makes one overseas trip, it may emphasize his competence.

As for the McCain campaign, it knows it’s in a tough spot next week. NBC News is reporting that McCain’s advisers acknowledge they may have to “fight for scraps that fall off the table” when it comes to media coverage. Considering how things have been going lately, keeping McCzechoslovakia out of the spotlight might be a good thing.

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