I tend to think David Broder gets a bad rap. At the very least, he deserves credit for going to work at the age of 78. I've had a soft spot for him ever since 2004, when I saw him in South Carolina covering John Edwards's soon-to-be-history campaign. How many 74 year olds--much less Pulitzer Prize-winning 74 year olds--are willing to file daily dispatches on a losing candidate that are destined for their paper's back pages? Even when Broder got whacked in the head by a falling sign at an Edwards event, leaving him with a nasty gash on his forehead, he kept on working. 

But it wasn't hard to detect Broder's disingenuousness in yesterday's column, in which he addresses Obama's decisions to turn down McCain's "town hall" proposal and to opt of the public finance system:

[I]t's also the case that the multiple joint town meetings McCain proposed would be a real service to the public and that suspending the dollar chase for the duration of the campaign, as McCain but not Obama will do, would be a major step toward establishing the credibility of the election process.

By refusing to join McCain in these initiatives in order to protect his own interests, Obama raises an important question: Has he built sufficient trust so that his motives will be accepted by the voters who are only now starting to figure out what makes him tick?

I don't think many voters will care--if they ever even know--about either one of these. But I think Broder cares--and he's peeved that Obama's unwilling to play the game by Broder's (and the establishment press's) rules. Which calls to mind one of Broder's most famous quotes (which he spoke, but didn't write) about Bill Clinton during impeachment:


"He came in here and he trashed the place and it's not his place."

It'll be interesting to see how, if Obama does win, people like Broder react. Granted, Obama probably isn't going to be as much of a game-changer as he promises, but he will make some members of the Washington establishment a little uncomfortable.

--Jason Zengerle