It took many months and the mockery of "Saturday Night Live" to make it happen, but the lumbering beast that is the press corps finally roused itself from its slumber Monday and greeted Barack Obama with a menacing growl.
The day before primaries in Ohio and Texas that could effectively seal the Democratic presidential nomination for him, a smiling Obama strode out to a news conference at a veterans facility here. But the grin was quickly replaced by the surprised look of a man bitten by his own dog.
Reporters from the Associated Press and Reuters went after him for his false denial that a campaign aide had held a secret meeting with Canadian officials over Obama's trade policy. A trio of Chicago reporters pummeled him with questions about the corruption trial this week of a friend and supporter. The New York Post piled on with a question about him losing the Jewish vote.
Obama responded with the classic phrases of a politician in trouble. "That was the information that I had at the time. . . . Those charges are completely unrelated to me. . . . I have said that that was a mistake. . . . The fact pattern remains unchanged."
When those failed, Obama tried another approach. "We're running late," the candidate said, and then he disappeared behind a curtain.
As I have said before, his obvious lack of experience is a problem.
Just as his supporters cannot articulate an intelligent reason to support Sen. Obama, it is becoming apparent that Obama cannot even articulate why he should be the President. Until now, it hasn't happened. And now that the questions are as tough as Hillary and McCain have been given, Mr. Obama is showing that he is not ready for consideration in the big leagues.
Before he beat his hasty retreat, however, Obama found time to assign blame for the tough questions suddenly coming his way. "The Clinton campaign has been true to its word in employing a 'kitchen sink' strategy," he protested. "There are, what, three or four things a day?"
So much for being a different kind of politician. Assigning blame is not the mark of an effective leader. Whining about being blindsided by the "Clinton campaign" or the "right-wing" conspiracy" will not persuade intelligent people to make a risky bet and cast their lots with him.
This is precisely what ineffectiveness looks like before it is entrusted to perform miracles and lead a nation that is so bitterly divided. This can only be cured by time and seasoning. And there isn't enough of either to get him where he needs to be, before he will take the helm of a such a large and powerful ship.
I cannot trust someone that will assign blame for their own lack of preparation. If he wants to blame anyone, he can look no further than the press corps that have been assigned to cover him. They have soft-balled him the entire time he has been in this race and now he is lost in the fog of battle.
How can we as a nation truly evaluate a candidate without him answering tough questions?
Answer: It can't.
If a candidate cannot stand in front of a camera without prepared texts to mesmerize a crowd of uninformed supporters, he cannot take the pressure that will certainly be exerted on him during the course of the next four years. If he cannot answer a question about his associations with people like Tony Rezko and Louis Farrakhan, without looking down (while trying to come up with a good answer in lawyerese), he cannot be knighted as Sir Obama, miracle worker.