Washington Post columnist Marc Thiessen could hardly have written a more dishonest attack on President Obama if that had been his primary goal.
Thiessen writes that "Obama is the real obstructionist at his health-care summit" because Obama has no interest in "bipartisan compromise." Thiessen bases his assertion that Obama is uninterested in compromise on the fact that no Republicans have supported Democratic health care proposals. That's a questionable claim on its face; it's downright absurd if you know that Obama's health care proposal -- like the bills passed in both the House and the Senate -- already contain significant concessions to the GOP. Not just concessions like "not being single-payer" and "not including a public option" -- though those are significant concessions Democrats have made. But the bills also include ideas Republicans have long supported. As Politico recently put it:
the pillars of the Senate bill resemble proposals that have been embraced by the GOP, most notably in a proposal offered last year by former Senate Majority Leaders Bob Dole (R-Kan.) and Howard Baker (R-Tenn.) and by Republicans during the 1993-94 health care reform debate. Major elements are also remarkably similar to a plan put forward by Sen. Judd Gregg (R-N.H.).
the Senate bill allows families and businesses to purchase insurance across state lines, a favorite policy proposal of the right. ... Republicans say states should decide how they want to do reform. But the Senate bill already goes a step in that direction.
So, Democrats have included Republican ideas, but Republicans refuse to support the bill anyway, leading Marc Thiessen to write that Democrats are uninterested in bipartisan compromise.
Next, Thiessen writes: "The president's real objective is to paint GOP leaders as obstructionists -- so that Democrats have an excuse to ram through their health-care legislation using extraordinary parliamentary procedures."
By "extraordinary parliamentary procedures," Thiessen presumably means "reconciliation." And he presumably knows reconciliation isn't all that "extraordinary" -- it was used to pass significant portions of President Bush's agenda. Thiessen presumably knows that because Thiessen worked as a speechwriter in the Bush White House.
Then Thiessen calls Obama "dishonest" and points to the fact that Senate Democrats worked with President Bush as evidence that Barack Obama hasn't reached out to Republicans. But, again, the simple fact is that Obama and Democrats did reach out. They did so with last year's stimulus package, which, in an effort to win GOP votes, was smaller and heavier on tax cuts than liberals wanted. They did so with the health care legislation. When Side A makes significant concessions to win the support of Side B, but Side B withholds their support anyway, Side A can hardly be blamed for a refusal to compromise.
I'm sure Thiessen and his boss Fred Hiatt would say Thiessen is simply expressing an opinion, which is the whole point of being an opinion columnist. But Thiessen isn't doing so honestly -- not even remotely. Thiessen could make the case that the concessions Democrats have made are insufficient, or that the inclusion of Republican ideas in the various health care bills do not do enough to outweigh the ideas they think are bad. But he doesn't do that. He simply pretends there were no such concessions, that there are no Republican ideas in the bill. That isn't honest.
But it's what we have come to expect from Fred Hiatt's Washington Post.
Yesterday, Politico published a navel-gazing piece by editor John Harris, explaining the decision to allow reporter Jonathan Allen to return after a brief stint working for Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz -- roughly a month. Harris wrote that one of his concerns in taking Allen back was that "it seemed likely that Allen's brief tenure with a Democrat might open us to shots at our fairness by Republicans."
As I pointed out yesterday, it's a little odd that Harris would write such a line about someone with twenty years of work as a reporter and one month working for a member of Congress without noting that another Politico reporter, Jonathan Martin, worked on a Republican gubernatorial campaign, two congressional campaigns, and spent more than three years working for a Republican member of Congress. Martin left his job as press secretary to Rep. Rob Simmons in October 2005 and joined Politico upon its January 2007 launch.
Well, today, Washington Post media critic Howard Kurtz praises Harris' piece. After quoting both Allen's own explanation for his decision to return to journalism and Harris's concerns about bringing him back, Kurtz writes:
While television has practically obliterated the line between party insiders and pundits, I do think Republicans--and Politico readers--might be wary of someone who was so recently in the employ of a Democrat. But I give Allen and Politico major points for transparency.
Kurtz, like Harris, is concerned about a reporter who was "so recently in the employ of a Democrat." And Kurtz, like Harris, doesn't say a word about Martin. Keep in mind: Allen has twenty years of experience as a journalist, and a month of working for a member of Congress. Martin, on the other hand, came to Politico barely a year after spending more than three years with a Republican member of congress and working on at least three GOP political campaigns. And not only does Kurtz fail to mention Martin while expressing wariness about Allen's one-twelfth of a year working for a Democrat, he actually praises Harris for "transparency" after Harris omitted any mention of Martin. Incredible.
(Speaking of transparency: Harris and Kurtz were colleagues at the Washington Post before Harris left to start Politico.)
One thing we learned from CPAC weekend is that `winger Jason Mattera has a bright future within the world of 24/7 conservative victimization, because days after speaking at CPAC, Mattera he still can't stop whining.
Mattera's still crying and pouting about how the New York Times treated his already forgettable speech at CPAC, where Mattera made a reference to Obama and cocaine use, and generally filled his shtick with sophomoric, name-calling attacks on Democrats.
As if the first round of bellyaching wasn't enough, now Mattera's scurried over to Breitbart's Big Journalism, where all true `wingers go to whine incessantly over fabricated charges of media bias.
I mean honestly, if you're going to be in the public arena, and especially if you're going to try to make a name for yourself making ugly insinuations against the president, can you at least no act like a fourth grader when journalists report what you say?
UPDATED: Does Mattera really not understand the difference between "racial" (the term the Times used in its write-up) and "racism" (the allegation he fabricated)? Reading his Big Journalism screed, I get the feeling Mattera does not.
Kind of embarrassing.
UPDATED: As Brian Frederick noted previously at County Fair, it's really quite amusing to watch this new right-wing obsession with suddenly claiming that calling somebody a "racist" is the ugliest, worst, most unfathomable allegation known to man.
The hypocrisy is comical because when Glenn Beck trotted out the "racist" charge against Obama last summer, Breitbart and his minions knew to stay quiet about that.
The following on-screen graphic aired on the February 23 edition of Fox News' Fox & Friends:
Given Fox News' "zero tolerance for on-screen errors" policy, their editorial board may find the following useful as well:
From a piece by Thiessen that appeared in the February 23 print edition of The Washington Post headlined "Obama is the real obstructionist at his health-care summit":
Rep. Mike Pence (R-Ind.) says of this week's bipartisan health-care summit: "Sounds like the Democrats spell summit: S-E-T-U-P." He's right -- the Blair House summit is a trap. If the objective really was to produce bipartisan compromise, Obama would not be using legislation crafted in a backroom that got virtually no Republican votes as the basis for the discussions. Nor would his secretary of health and human services have declared last week that the White House is still willing to fight for a public option, a proposal that died because of bipartisan opposition in the Senate.
The president's real objective is to paint GOP leaders as obstructionists -- so that Democrats have an excuse to ram through their health-care legislation using extraordinary parliamentary procedures
From a February 22 Gateway Pundit post by Jim Hoft:
We wondered. The link goes to a The Hill article about Reid talking about a rise in domestic abuse by men because of joblessness.
On Friday, Rush Limbaugh took a shot at Bill O'Reilly, mocking O'Reilly for his supposed goal of "giv[ing] socialism a fair shake" and for his criticism of those who "bash Obama." Today, Limbaugh got his response - O'Reilly devoted much of his program to the question of whether or not President Obama is a socialist.
O'Reilly defended himself by stating that "from the beginning, the Factor has criticized Mr. Obama for his socialist tenets, primarily that of income redistribution." In a true Fox News fair-and-balanced moment, O'Reilly subsequently ran a graphic that stated: "Is President Obama a socialist? I say no. Others say yes."
Bill-O went on to ask Newt Gingrich, Brit Hume, and Bernie Goldberg in separate segments whether they think Obama is a socialist.
With two minutes of criticism, Limbaugh was able to direct a large portion of O'Reilly's show. With results like that, I think we can expect this conflict-of-the-egos to continue.
This morning, Eric Boehlert noted that Bill Bennett had called out Glenn Beck - but not for how, as Eric put it, Beck has "spread his crazy, tinfoil hat, anti-government conspiracies, and denigrated the President of the United States as a racist, communist, socialist, Nazi dictator." No, Bennett's issue with Beck is that his CPAC speech was insufficiently partisan.
Right-wing radio host Mark Levin is now joining in, taking to his Facebook page to laud Bennett's piece and comment:
I have no idea what philosophy Glenn Beck is promoting. And neither does he. It's incoherent. One day it's populist, the next it's libertarian bordering on anarchy, next it's conservative but not really, etc. And to what end? I believe he has announced that he is no longer going to endorse candidates because our problems are bigger than politics. Well, of course, our problems are not easily dissected into categories, but to reject politics is to reject the manner in which we try to organize ourselves. This is as old as Plato and Aristotle. Why would conservatives choose to surrender the political battlefield to our adversaries -- who are trashing this society --when we must retake it in order to preserve our society? Philosophy, politics, culture, family, etc., are all of one. Edmund Burke, among others, wrote about it extensively, and far better that I possibly can. But all elements of the civil society require our defense. Besides, why preach such a strategy when conservatism is on the rise and the GOP is acting more responsibly?
Moreover, when he does discuss politics, which, ironically, is often, how can he claim today that there is no difference between the two parties when, but for the Republicans in Congress, government-run health care, cap-and-trade, card check, and a long list of other disastrous policies would already be law? The GOP is becoming more conservative thanks to the grass-roots movement and a political uprising across the country, which has even reached into New Jersey and Massachusetts. Why keep pretending otherwise? My only conclusion is that he is promoting a third party or some third way, which is counter-productive to defeating Obama and the Democrat Congress. These are perilous times and this kind of an approach will keep the statists in power for decades.
It's interesting to see where these right-wing talkers are drawing the line. Crazed conspiracies? No problem! But criticize Republicans, and you are "counter-productive" and helping the "statists."
From the February 22 edition of Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor: