In an article discussing Republican opposition to Democrats' health care reform, The Washington Post portrayed Sen. Chuck Grassley as one of the "few GOP senators who sought consensus on health care," conjuring up images of Grassley walking hand-in-hand with the Democrats to pass health care reform (unlike, say, Sen. Jon Kyl, who in September 2009 reportedly called reform a "stunning assault on liberty").
To buttress this image, the Post ignored the not-so-small fact that Grassley helped forward the 2009 "Lie of the Year," the widely debunked falsehood that health reform legislation would establish "death panels." At a town hall meeting in August 2009, Grassley said that Americans "have every right to fear" the end-of-life counseling provision in the House bill. He went on to say, "You shouldn't have counseling at the end of life, you should have done that 20 years before. We should not have a government-run plan to decide when to pull the plug on grandma."
In addition to sidestepping Grassley's embrace of the death panel falsehood, the Post also reported that Grassley "worked for months on a bipartisan bill," but that he sees President Obama as "not committed to meaningful compromise." To make this narrative of Grassley the cooperator work, the Post failed to note that during an August 2009 interview on MSNBC's Morning Meeting, Grassley admitted he wouldn't vote for a bill if the GOP remained opposed -- even if Grassley got what he wanted during negotiations.
Moreover, before blithely repeating Grassley's claim that Obama is "not committed to meaningful compromise," the Post might have pointed out that the final Senate bill included "161 Republican amendments" from senators such as Mike Enzi, Tom Coburn, Pat Roberts, and others, and reflected the efforts of "six bipartisan working groups" that "met a combined 72 times" in 2009, as well as "30 bipartisan hearings on health care reform" since 2007, half of which were held in 2009. And according to a Senate Finance Committee document detailing the amendments to the Chairman's Mark considered, at least 13 amendments sponsored by one or more Republican senators were included in that bill.
Following the earthquake that struck Haiti on January 12, Rush Limbaugh said the tragedy would "play right into [President] Obama's hands," adding that the administration would use it to boost its credibility with the "light-skinned and dark-skinned black community in this country." Limbaugh, who has previously stated that Democrats see tragic events as a way to bolster their standing within the African-American community, has a history of politicizing such tragedies.
In a January 4 editorial purporting to demonstrate that "the United States finds itself noticeably weaker in international affairs" now than when President Obama took office, The Washington Times went through the gamut of conservative talking points to find ways to say Obama is a failure as a president (Obama is still in his first presidential year), all the while snidely insinuating that President George W. Bush was not.
The Times started off, reliably, by attacking Obama's national security credentials, trotting out the old conservative stand-by that Obama "was elected with almost no national security experience," except for maybe having taken "a graduate seminar in international relations." The editorial added that Obama used "his personal charisma and the fact that he was not George W. Bush" to get elected. Well, then, what national security credentials, might I ask, did Bush have when he was "elected"?
The Times continued to hammer the point that Obama's supposed inexperience -- "naïve enthusiasm" as the Times put it -- regarding national security contributed to him making "lofty promises" instead of delivering "prudent policies," citing, for support, Obama's intention to close the prison at Guantánamo Bay and his stated intention to begin a withdrawal of U.S. troops from Afghanistan in the future, while sending more troops there now. The former, which the Times referred to as "a victory of symbolism over substance," has been a favorite conservative line of attack for more than a year now, but conservatives somehow always seem to conveniently sidestep the fact that Defense Secretary Robert Gates -- who took that position in 2006 when President Bush appointed him -- reportedly called for the facility's closure AS FAR BACK AS 2007.
Attacking Obama over Afghanistan is, of course, straight out of Dick Cheney's playbook. While the administration was formulating its Afghanistan strategy, Cheney accused Obama of "dithering" and "inaction," then when the administration announced a plan, Cheney slammed Obama. In its editorial, the Times followed suit, asserting that Obama "announced a 'stronger and smarter' strategy for Afghanistan in March, and another in November that contained a deadline which is not quite a deadline, for a pullout that is not really a pullout," continuing the trend of portraying Democrats as weak on national security and foreign policy and totally absolving the Bush administration of responsibility for any problems Afghanistan.
The Times then used the unsuccessful Christmas Day airline bomb attack to criticize "Obama's unprecedented, fawning outreach to the Muslim world," claiming, once again, that the outreach "has produced no tangible results, no dramatic shifts in public opinion regarding U.S. policies" -- no matter that, as we previously noted, a June 2009 WorldPublicOpinion.org poll found that Obama was more popular than Bush in Muslim countries for which comparable data are available, and that a July 2009 Pew poll found that there are "[s]igns of improvement in views of America ... even in some predominantly Muslim countries that held overwhelmingly negative views of the United States in the Bush years."
The Times later slipped in a gratuitous quotation of a racist attack by Al Qaeda, which was widely repeated throughout the right-wing hemisphere: "Al Qaeda views Mr. Obama with outright contempt, offensively declaring him to be a 'house Negro' in contrast to purportedly 'honorable black Americans' like Malcolm X." It's unclear why the Times would reprint this quote, but it's not surprising that Al Qaeda would criticize the current U.S. president, whose stated goal is to bring about its demise.
Of course the Times found a way to associate Cuba and Obama, saying that the administration "unwisely rush[ed] to side with Venezuela, Cuba and Nicaragua in calling for return of failed dictator Manuel Zelaya." We get tired of mentioning this -- but the European Union and the UN secretary general voiced similar opposition to Zelaya's ouster, as did the Organization of American States.
The Times also listed "embarrassing Obama moments on the world stage," which included the media's fabrication of giftgate and the right-wing's made-up bow-gate. It threw into the list the claim that Obama said "the United States was 'one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," which is a misrepresentation of his June 2009 statement that "if you actually took the number of Muslim Americans, we'd be one of the largest Muslim countries in the world," and a host of others, inexplicably including the Nobel Peace Price. Whaa?
Listing all of Bush's "embarrassing" moments would probably require using up a whole lot of space ... but did you know there is a website that lists many of Bush's blunders (verbal gaffes) by year?
In its last paragraph, the Times wrote: "The world is a tough neighborhood. Mr. Bush was not loved, but he was feared, which Machiavelli advises is a more durable position. Mr. Obama has sought only to be loved, but in the process has disappointed America's allies and encouraged our adversaries." (Sigh) Yeah, we've heard that one, too.
On his Fox News program, Glenn Beck echoed Sarah Palin in saying that President Obama "has admitted" that "[i]f cap and trade passes ... your electricity rates will necessarily skyrocket." In fact, as Media Matters for America noted when Palin wrote in her memoir that Obama "has already admitted that the policy he seeks will cause our electricity bills to 'skyrocket,' " Obama was not referring to the cap-and-trade bill that was passed by the House in June when he made his "skyrocket" comment; moreover, as PolitiFact.com noted, the bill "should reduce costs to consumers."
On his radio show, Sean Hannity baselessly asserted that 2009 is "the 9th coldest year on record" to claim that "global warming is a crock," "it's been proven a lie," and "it's a huge cover-up." In fact, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), NASA's Goddard Institute for Space Studies (GISS), and Britain's Met Office have stated that, to date, 2009 is among the warmest years on record.
On Fox News' Special Report, senior political analyst Brit Hume claimed that global warming is undermined by the "huge problem" that "[t]here's been no apparent increase in global temperatures over the past 11 years." In fact, scientists have rejected the claim that recent temperatures undermine or refute global warming.
On his November 19 radio show, Rush Limbaugh falsely claimed that undocumented immigrants "are covered" under the recently passed House health care bill. In fact, the Affordable Health Care for America Act (H.R. 3962) stipulates that those "not lawfully present" may not receive subsidies to purchase insurance.
In recent days, several media outlets have repeated the conservative claim that a task force recommending that fewer women younger than 50 receive regular mammograms is a precursor to government rationing under health care reform. In fact, the recommendations are not legally binding on health care providers or insurers.