That, and other news, in today’s Political Panorama.
Much of the media devoted at least some time to the moment — the State of the Union address, where it looked like Barack Obama was giving Hillary Clinton the cold shoulder, just as she was chatting with Edward Kennedy, who had endorsed Obama that day. The next day, Obama and his campaign quickly offered explanations, but it didn’t stop the exercise in analyzing body language. Some outlets even admitted that they were obsessed with the trivial — even while devoting attention to it.
But the incident could very well end up hurting Obama, because it fits so neatly in the media narrative — that he has flashes of rudeness. “You’re likable enough,” he said at the pre-New Hampshire debate, in a comment that some took as arrogant and others took as deadpan delivery.
As much as just about everyobe bemoans the parsing of personality, images still are more powerful than words. They have been for quite some time in politics. But this year the moments that linger are much more about emotion, not stagecraft: Hillary Clinton welling up, Bill Clinton wagging his finger, Mitt Romney (just barely) arguing with an AP reporter.
That is why, absent major policy differences, the debates today and tomorrow will be about the body language, the flashes of indignation, the attempts at humor and, surely, the quality of the handshake.
Candidate Plans: Candidates are firming up schedules for their final swings through California. One scenario I have heard is that Bill Clinton will appear at several African-American churches in Los Angeles this weekend in an attempt to diffuse some of the tensions and mitigate Barack Obama’s advantage. Meanwhile, John McCain is expected to announce the endorsement of Rudy Giuliani in a joint appearance at the Reagan Library today at 3 p.m.
More Endorsements: Barack Obama has picked up the endorsement of Los Angeles City Councilman Bill Rosendahl, who represents Venice, Pacific Palisades and other parts of the Westside. Rosendahl has been backing Dennis Kucinich.
Campaign Event: Rep. Adam Schiff and former Rep. Mel Levine, who have endorsed Barack Obama, hold a discussion of the candidate’s Middle East policy at the Stephen S. Wise Temple in Los Angeles.
Grisham’s Nod: John Grisham, promoting his new book “The Appeal,” tells Charlie Rose why he’s for Hillary Clinton.