"Grumpy," Gaffe-Prone McCain vs. Obama's "Tone Poems" in Berlin

Even against a backdrop of adulatory media coverage, a story by Steven Erlanger stands out for the starkness of its contrast between presidential candidates Barack Obama, who delivered a "tone poem" of a speech in Berlin, versus a "grumpy" John McCain stuck eating a bratwurst in a German restaurant in Ohio.

This version of Erlanger's story, "Obama Heads for Paris and London," made only some editions of the Times (Barack Obama's whirlwind European tour discombobulating the media in more ways than one).

Senator Barack Obama came to Paris for a meeting and news conference with the French President, Nicolas Sarkozy, on Friday, the latest stop in his weeklong trip to the Middle East and Europe. Their discussion was expected to concentrate on Iran.

Mr. Obama, the presumptive Democratic nominee for president, later headed off to London for the night, the last stop on an overseas tour that is designed to prove to voters that he can handle foreign policy and answer criticisms on his foreign policy experience from his Republican rival, John McCain.

So far for Mr. Obama, who came to Europe once in the last four years, making a stop in London on his way to Russia, the response of many Europeans to his potential presidency has been gratifying - emotional, responsive, replete with the sense of hope he seeks to engender about a more flexible, less ideological America.

On Thursday evening in a glittering Berlin, cheered by as many as 200,000 people, Mr. Obama delivered a tone poem to American and European ideals and shared history. In contrast, just before he spoke, Mr. McCain, was sitting in Schmidt's Sausage Haus und Restaurant in Columbus, Ohio, having a bratwurst, and saying grumpily that he would prefer to speak to Germans when he is president, not before.

Erlanger's report did get somewhat more questioning.

Reporter Elisabeth Bumiller piled on with her Friday story from the McCain camp, "Hey, Obama: There's Bratwurst in Ohio, Too (but No Cheering Masses)."

...Mr. McCain was plagued by bad luck and his own synapses. He was supposed to have a dramatic campaign stop on an oil rig in the Gulf of Mexico on Thursday. But then along came Hurricane Dolly. And an oil spill that closed a long stretch of the lower Mississippi River on Wednesday undercut his message that offshore drilling was desirable and safe.

The Wolf Howling blog explained that the oil spill had nothing to do with offshore drilling.

Bumiller is master of the cheap shot, with a habit of dutifully forwarding McCain's every gaffe (quite unlike the see-no-evil coverage of Obama's own gaffes)and evenrecycling them the next day.

The day before, Mr. McCain repeated a mistake by referring to Czechoslovakia, a nation that has not existed since 1993, and got into a tangle after an interview with CBS News over whether he was historically correct in saying that the troop escalation began before the Anbar Awakening movement in which Sunnis joined forces with American troops to fight the insurgency in Iraq.

"McCain is having a disastrous week," said Ed Rollins, a Republican strategist who led Mike Huckabee's presidential campaign this year. "It would have been better if he had just kept a low profile and stayed out of the limelight. He got dragged into making a lot of stupid comments about Obama, and there's been this tremendous contrast with the visuals, which is what a lot of people pay attention to."