Over at Grist, the popular online environment magazine, David Roberts has a spot-on takedown of a recent Newsweek column by Michael Hirsh. Hirsh’s piece is all about the McCain campaign’s efforts to cast its candidate (who would be the oldest president ever elected) as a “grown up.” There’s “no better evidence” of that strategy than McCain’s energy plan, Hirsh argues. The real problem with his column, however, is his exceedingly myopic attempt to prove that McCain’s recent string of energy speeches has left his opponent, Barack Obama, on the defensive.

As Roberts correctly points out at Grist, Obama unveiled a detailed energy plan last October. In that light, McCain’s recent energy proposals (gas-tax holiday, offshore drilling, “leapfrog” battery technology, etc.) might be viewed as a latent response to Obama’s initiative. Hirsh quickly dismisses that idea by writing, “Frankly, however, no one really cares what Obama said last October.” Furthermore, as Roberts also notes, Hirsh doesn’t seem to have reviewed Obama’s rather lengthy energy plan and prematurely dismisses it as incomplete. Now, one might argue (as I have) that McCain has effectively controlled the media spotlight on energy issues these last few weeks, but that is different that saying that Obama is on the defensive. I suspect, as does Roberts, that little reporting went to into Hirsh’s work, rendering it a particularly vacuous piece of commentary.

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Curtis Brainard is the editor of The Observatory, CJR's online critique of science and environment reporting. Follow him on Twitter @cbrainard.