Over the past few weeks, the news media has repeatedly portrayed President Obama and (especially) congressional Democrats as being insufficiently "bipartisan" and "centrist" in their approach to the stimulus package. These news reports often seem to suggest that bipartisanship is an end in and of itself, rather than a means to an end. Worse, as I explained in a recent column, they blamed the wrong party for the lack of bipartisan cooperation:
So, to sum up: The Democrats -- who won landslide electoral victories in both 2006 and 2008 and whose policy positions enjoy broad public support -- offered a bill that included a mix of tax cuts and spending, that removed provisions the Republicans didn't like. The Republicans, having lost badly in the past two elections and enjoying about as much popularity as a kick in the head, offered a bill that consisted solely of their own priority, tax cuts.
And yet the Mark Halperins of the world blast Obama and the Democrats for not compromising enough. Absolutely incredible.
Today, a new Gallup poll shows that not only were these news reports factually and logically flawed, they were - once again - painfully out of touch with the American people.
According to Gallup, 67 percent of Americans approve of President Obama's handling of the stimulus bill, while only 25 percent disapprove. And more American approve rather than disapprove of Congressional Democrats handling of the bill, though by a much smaller margin than Obama enjoys.
The Republicans, on the other hand, fare much worse. Only 31 percent of Americans approve of their handling of the stimulus, while 58 percent disapprove.
And this despite weeks of news reports that perversely suggest the Democrats have been insufficiently bipartisan, and that falsely suggest that that the GOP's tax cut proposals would be more stimulative than government spending on things like unemployment benefits and food stamps.
Just imagine what the poll numbers would be had the media coverage of the stimulus debate not been so skewed in the Republicans' favor.