Here's the (print edition) headline:
Major plans, softer stands: Obama is accepting Washington reality
It's all about how Obama has a habit of capitulating on his agenda; how the White House backs down from confrontation and plays it safe.
Write Jackie Calmes and David Herszenhorn [emphasis added]:
President Obama is well known for bold proposals that have raised expectations, but his administration has shown a tendency for compromise and caution, and even a willingness to capitulate on some early initiatives. It was inevitable that Mr. Obama's lofty pledge to change the ways of Washington would crash into the realities of governing, including lawmakers anxious to protect their constituents and an army of special-interest lobbyists.
I always get suspicious when I see journalists criticizing Obama for saying he claimed as a candidate that he was going to completely reinvent Washington, because honestly I don't remember those radical promises from the campaign trail. (I remember a more general theme of change.) And wouldn't you know it, the Times doesn't bother to provide any actual evidence about how Obama, as a candidate, made sweeping claims about altering government; claims that today have been abandoned.
In fact, the article's examples of Obama backing down on issues seem rather trivial vs. bold. For instance, the Times notes up high in the piece:
Congressional Democrats effectively killed his proposal to slash farm subsidies by nearly $1 billion a year, and forced him to retreat partially on a plan to require private insurers to pick up more of veterans' health costs. They also got him to shelve the idea of a commission to buttress Social Security's finances.
I'm sorry, but the idea that Obama ran for president on the idea that he was going to cut farm subsidies or adjust veterans' health costs doesn't ring true. Instead, those seem like examples of everyday D.C. give-and take.
And then the Times claimed this:
And Thursday, Mr. Obama suggested that he would not fight in Congress to renew an assault weapons ban that expired in 2004. It was the latest example of the pragmatic approach he adopted after winning the presidency by promising to challenge entrenched interests and put the public good ahead of political expedience.
Again, as a candidate did Obama ever announce he'd renew an assault weapons ban? If so, the Times doesn't provide the evidence. And if Obama did not campaign on that issue, how is that an example of him caving in once he became elected?
Ugh. Appearing on NPR to discuss the "tea parties," and too often soft-pedaling Fox News' role (i.e. no mention of the 100-plus "tea party" promos FNC aired), Kurtz suggested that newspapers didn't take the anti-Obama events seriously enough. Kurtz told NPR:
I think the nation's top newspapers, which finally got around to covering them on April 15th, kind of had their heads in the sand, as well.
This reminds us of Neil Cavuto's rhetoric last week when he pre-emptively criticized the "tea party" coverage days before it happened. Here, Kurtz tsk-tsks that newspapers didn't report on the events until they actually happened.
You know WSJ editorial writers have lost all credibility when a right-wing partisan blog like Power Line calls them out for faulty writing/logic. The topic of the Journal editorial today is Norm Coleman's never-ending election appeal in Minnesota. There are all kinds of irregularities. Justice has been denied. Yadda, yadda, yadda.
Yet even Power Line concludes the Journal has no idea what it's talking about [emphasis added]:
The Journal doesn't show much familiarity with the facts related to the implications of wrongoing [sic] in their two editorials on the Minnesota recount. In particular, today's editorial shows no evidence of familiarity with (i.e., of its author having read) the three-judge election contest panel decision in favor of Franken. The decision bears reading by anyone seriously interested in the facts of the case. I am sorry to say that reading the decision persuades me that the Journal's encouragement of Senator Coleman's pursuit of an appeal is misguided because he has no chance of winning such an appeal.
We give Power Line credit for standing up for the facts in Minnesota. We just think it's funny Power Line pretends it's a big deal that a Journal editorial shows not familiarity with the facts.
As noted by Greg Sargent and others, the Politico, in its write-up of President Obama's decision to release the CIA torture memos, granted anonymity to a "top official" from the Bush administration defending the interrogation procedures as "techniques that work" and attacking Obama for inflicting "grave damage to our national security." Sargent corresponded with Politico's Mike Allen, asking why he allowed this official to defend his boss and take pot shots at the new guy while hiding behind the shield of anonymity. Allen said the situation is "not ideal, but better than making readers wonder what the official Bush view is."
But how could it be the "official Bush view" anyway if it's being provided anonymously? Moreover, can readers really "wonder what the official Bush view is," given that Bush himself has made clear where he stands on the use of these interrogation methods? Dick Cheney, for his part, has not held back in saying that Obama's national security decisions have made the country less safe.
Put simply, why grant anonymity to a Bush official to (a) repeat Bush's defense of his policies and (b) criticize Obama, as Cheney has done? Shouldn't readers be given full information to be able to evaluate the speaker's credibility and possible personal stake in the issue and maybe for other reporters to follow up by actually challenging the speaker on his or her assertions?
The Daily Beast's Benjamin Sarlin follows up on a trend we've been noting at CF for the last couple week; far right bloggers who are calling out Fox News for the doomsday hate speech that's become Murdoch's programming anchor. Specifically, how folks like David Horowitz, Rick Moran, and the warblogging site Little Green Footballs have condemned Fox News and its head New World Order cheerleader, Glenn Beck. (See here and here for earlier examples.)
Here's a key quote though, from LGF's Charles Johnson, surveying Fox News' militia media movement [emphasis added:
I just wish everyone would take a step back from this extremist brink. It can't lead anywhere good. At best, it will bring the right-wing blogosphere into disrepute, and at the worst it could lead to violence if you encourage these real nuts out there.
Yeah, I'm pretty sure the unhinged anti-Obama rhetoric broadcast on so many right-wing blogs since January 21 has already drowned the community in disrepute. The Fox News-driven "tea parties" and the DHS nervous breakdown this week only cemented it.
Shorter version--as long as Michelle Malkin's at the head of any movement, it's going to be a joke.
UPDATE: Glenn Beck attacked LGF's Johnson for posting a video in which members at a Beck-sponsored "tea party" wanted to burn books. Beck says the book burner was a liberal infiltrator. Notes Johnson:
I guess we're supposed to ignore the fact that the audience at that "Glenn Beck tea party" actually applauded when she shouted this. And we're supposed to ignore the speaker ranting about digital cable boxes being "brainwashing devices," and spouting John Birch Society talking points. And we're supposed to ignore the moderator, promoting the extreme right-wing/libertarian/Dominionist Constitution Party.
Never mind all that. Hey, look over there! It's an infiltrator!
We're a little late on this, but it's worth repeating what Think Progress recently highlighted.
Appearing on Hugh Hewitt's far right radio show, Politico's Allen shoveled out right-wing misinformation about the DHS internal intelligence report about violent, extreme domestic terrorist groups. Allen, like Hewitt and the rest of the right, pretends the report is about conservatives.
I think it's a big story...I think some bureaucrat who wrote this report, like, misstated in a way that doesn't comport with your or my observations about the real America. I think it was somebody who, written inside the Beltway, who maybe has fantasies about what happens outside in the real America.
Three problems. A) So now Allen knows more about domestic terrorist groups than the Department of Homeland Security? B) Allen can read minds of terrorist experts within DHS; he can tell that they were fantasizing while writing a report? C) Allen dutifully seems to sign off on the right-wing's beloved conspiracy theory that the DHS is targeting mainstream conservatives out in "real America."
It's bad enough when Politico shovels misinformation on its own site. Why does it have to spread it around the radio, too?
From former Bush speechwriter David Frum's April 15 Spectator article:
Obama has been in office nearly three months. Far and away his most important initiative over that time has been to continue George W. Bush's costly Troubled Asset Rescue Plan. Next most important: a mortgage rescue plan that likewise follows ideas bequeathed by his predecessor. Obama has not yet raised taxes. He has not yet introduced a healthcare plan. He has not yet detailed a climate-change policy. He has declined to rescue the automobile companies.
During the campaign, Democrats promised pro-union changes in labour law. In office, one Democratic senator after another has broken ranks against this. Republicans have mused that Democrats might alter broadcasting regulations in ways inimical to conservative talk radio. No sign of action there either.
Yet to listen to Fox News and other conservative media, you'd think we were living in Czechoslovakia in the final hours before the 1948 communist coup. Anchors end interviews by solemnly pledging to defend liberty and oppose tyranny. The network's rising star Glenn Beck has mused about the coming turn to totalitarianism - and warned his audience that he has not been able to 'debunk' fears that the Federal Emergency Management Agency is constructing an archipelago of concentration camps for political opponents of the Obama administration.
Politico's Roger Simon seems to mock Obama for wanting to be in the headlines all the time with today's piece, "It's all Obama, all the time":
If it's Thursday, it must be Obama. Or Friday. Or Saturday. Or just about any day. Barack Obama has gone from being historic to being ubiquitous. He doesn't just control the news cycle, he is the news cycle...Today, we have a president who so fills the airwaves that he really should have his own network with the motto: "All Obama, All the Time." Scratch that. He doesn't need it. Cable news is pretty much that already.
Ah, it's cable news that's going overboard with its Obama coverage. It's cable news that latches onto trivial White House happenings and trumpets them as key events. It's cable news that treats the president as a celebrity.
For the record, Politico recently billboarded its site with a lead story about what Obama watches on TV. (ESPN and Entourage, we learn) I can't think of a single news outlet that's done more to trivialize political coverage, and do it 24/7, than Politico. But Simon's sure cable news is to blame.