Howard Kurtz, please define "essential appeal"

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Howard Kurtz writes:

Obama's essential appeal in 2008 was his vow to move beyond red and blue partisanship. But that has disappointed some of the liberal pundits who thought he shared their goals.

Really? To the extent that it's possible to identify Obama's "essential appeal" in 2008, it was probably "change," not "his vow to move beyond red and blue partisanship." Kurtz seems to think people who want change are disappointed because they don't understand what's really important: bipartisanship. That's typical of the way the media elite views the world, as I wrote back in January:

To many journalists, bucking your party -- like "centrism" and bipartisanship -- is a noble goal all by itself. But I suspect most people recognize that these things are means, not ends.

Sure, people want the politicians to stop bickering and get things done. But, more specifically, most people want the politicians to stop bickering and do things they want done. A single mother working two minimum-wage jobs to feed her kids might want politicians to come together in a spirit of bipartisanship -- but she doesn't want them to pass bipartisan legislation lowering the minimum wage; she wants a bipartisan bill raising the minimum wage. If she can't have that, I suspect she'd take a party-line minimum-wage increase, even if it means a decrease in the bonhomie at Washington cocktail parties she'll never attend.

For most people, bipartisan consensus is great -- but it is as a means of accomplishing tangible results, not a goal in and of itself. But many political reporters seem to have an ideological, if not religious, commitment to bipartisanship and centrism. But -- and here's where things get really problematic -- they don't really have any idea of where the "center" is.

Kurtz' line explains why the media is so eager for Democrats to cave on health care reform -- to them, it's more important that there be health care reform that passes with Republican votes (no matter how unlikely that is) than it is for health care reform to actually be good. They care more about "bipartisanship" than about effective solutions to the nation's problems.

The Washington Post
Howard Kurtz
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