Yesterday, Gallup released poll results that show public concern about "big business" at the highest level it has ever been, aside from an uptick in 2002 in the wake of the Enron scandal. Meanwhile, public concern about the threat posed by "big government" is lower than it has been for almost all of the past 20 years.
[A] substantial majority (55%) still see big government as the larger threat; 32% see big business as the biggest threat, up slightly from 25% three years ago.
A "substantial majority"? Perhaps -- but less substantial than at any point in the past 20 years, except the post-9/11 period. Meanwhile, the percentage of Americans who see big business as the bigger threat is "up slightly" only if you consider a 28 percent increase "slight." And, of course, Malcolm ignores the fact that numbers for big business are the second-worst they have ever been in the 40+ years Gallup has been asking this question.
Regular readers of Malcolm's work will probably not be surprised to learn that he used his business-friendly portrayal of the Gallup results to argue that the Republicans "message" may "resonate" in next year's congressional elections:
The results provide at least a possible blueprint for beleaguered Republicans struggling in disarray that their message of too much spending-too much government may resonate by the time of the 2010 midterm elections.
But, as Gallup noted:
Gallup's history of asking this question dates back to 1965. Since that time, Americans have always viewed big government as posing the greatest threat of the three institutions tested, although the percentage naming it has varied over time.
A glance at Gallup's chart makes clear that the gap between the percentage of Americans who see "big government" as a threat and those who see "big business" as a threat is smaller than it has been at nearly any point in the past 25 years -- a fact that pretty thoroughly undermines Malcolm's spin that the poll presents good news for the GOP.
As long as Politico keeps trumpeting Gingrich's anti-Obama tirades as breaking news, we'll keep asking the simple question: who cares what Newt Gingrich thinks? We're hoping at some point Politico tries to answer the question.
In the meantime, here's the latest installment, where Politico, stuck in its Gin Blossoms `90's mode, pretends Gingrich is still Speaker of the House:
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich tore into President Barack Obama Monday for his friendly greeting of Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, saying Obama is bolstering the "enemies of America."
As we mentioned before, not only was Gingrich essentially driven from Congress more than ten years ago, but we can't think of a single Bush initiative from this decade that had Gingrich's fingerprints on it. Now, Newt can't be bothered with running for office, nor does he seem to represent any larger institution.
He's just a partisan talking head, which is fine. So why has the D.C. press corps, and Politico in particular, carved out a special niche for what's-Newt-thinking-today coverage?
New York Times reporter David Barstow has won a Pulitzer Prize for his reporting on the conflicts of interest of "military analysts" used by television networks.
The networks have given scant attention to the military analysts story; maybe now that the story has won a Pulitzer for Barstow, they'll pay attention.
If you watch the Sunday shows, the Obama people are no longer arguing the GOP has "no ideas." Now it's they have "no ideas" or "the same old tired ideas." I don't know what's more tired, Republicans calling for tax cuts or Democras for expensive health health care programs, and I suspect voters just want something to help them get through this recession, whether the idea is tired or not.
Well, let's see ... we've implemented the GOP's tax cut proposals - many, many times - with somewhat limited success. We haven't tried universal health care. So it should be pretty obvious which is the "more tired" idea, shouldn't it?
The Atlantic's Marc Ambinder, responding to Steve Schmidt's call for the GOP to drop its opposition to gay rights:
AMBINDER: I know that there are many Republicans who support gay rights, and that most members of the Republican elite are pro-gay, and that the business wing of the party could care less about the issue. ... But I also know that the possibility that the Republican coalition will find some way to organize itself without social conservatives is a ways of a way off. Schmidt's concerns may be valid, but urging the GOP top adopt a tolerance platform WITHOUT figuring out how to declamp itself from the social conservative hook -- that's not terribly realistic. That's why so many Republican strategists, even as they're sympathetic to gay rights (and virtually ALL of them are), don't advise their clients to so much as acknowledge the dignity of gay people."
According to Marc Ambinder, "virtually ALL" Republican strategists are "sympathetic to gay rights," and "most members" of the Republican "elite" are actually "pro-gay." And yet they don't advise their clients to even "acknowledge the dignity of gay people." And they participate in campaigns that do pretty much the opposite of acknowledging the dignity of gay people.
It seems to me that some definitions are in order here. Who exactly are the "elite" Ambinder is talking about? Elected officials? Donors? Consultants and campaign workers? And what does Marc Ambinder think it means to be "pro-gay"? Based on the context, it seems he thinks it means "privately feeling badly about publicly participating in the denigration of and denial of rights for gay people." That doesn't seem very "pro-gay," though, and Ambinder should explain and defend his use of that phrasing.
See, at some point in the not-so-distant future, the GOP is going to start claiming it likes gay people just fine, and all that discrimination stuff was a loooong time ago. It is going to try to whitewash its history of anti-gay policies and rhetoric. We've seen this happen with other demographic groups the Republicans no longer finds political advantage in explicitly attacking. Few people want to be seen as the last bigot standing in the schoolhouse door.
Reporters like Marc Ambinder shouldn't be in the business of helping that whitewashing along. They shouldn't do people the favor of insisting that they are "pro-gay" when they are actually participating in anti-gay campaigns and using anti-gay rhetoric. Not only does that help people avoid accountability for their positions, it delays progress. If silently feeling bad about denouncing gay marriage is accepted by the media as "pro-gay" behavior, gay people are going to have to wait a little longer for their legal rights than they otherwise would.
Here is today's daily Red Scare Index -- our search of CNN, CNN Headline News, Fox News Channel, Fox Business Network, MSNBC and CNBC for uses of the following terms: Socialism, Socialist, Socialists, Socialistic, Communism, Communist, Communists, Communistic, Marxism, Marxist, Marxists, Fascism, Fascist, Fascists and Fascistic.
Here are the numbers for last week, April 13-17, 2009:
Socialism, Socialist, Socialistic: 139
Communism, Communist, Communistic: 104
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 62
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 6
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 27
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 6
CNN Headline News: 22
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 1
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 19
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2
Fox News Channel: 103
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 50
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 35
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 18
Fox Business Network: 69
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 33
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 3
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 33
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 42
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 13
Marxism, Marxist/s: 11
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 2
Socialism, Socialist/s, Socialistic: 7
Communism, Communist/s, Communistic: 7
Marxism, Marxist/s: 0
Fascism, Fascist/s, Fascistic: 1
The above numbers are the result of a TVeyes.com power search for these terms on these networks.
Writing in the WashPost, Ana Marie Cox suggests the White House press beat oughta be ditched, or at least drastically reconfigured by news orgs, because WH reporters rarely break news. Instead, they sit around and wait to repeat doled out WH info.
Facing a paucity of real news, reporters turn to trivia, claims Cox:
Here are some stories that reporters working the White House beat have produced in the past few months: Pocket squares are back! The president is popular in Europe. Vegetable garden! Joe Biden occasionally says things he probably regrets. Puppy!
But then Cox, anxious to not offend her fellow Villagers, goes astray [continuing directly]:
It's not that the reporters covering the president are bad at their jobs. Most are experienced journalists at the top of their game.
That circle doesn't square. If WH reporters are wasting their time writing too much about nonsense like pocket squares and puppies and wardrobes and on and on, than they are, by definition, bad at their job. So why won't Cox say so?
Cox also ignores the fact that this never-ending trivial pursuit by the press under Obama is an entirely new, and completely voluntary, phenomena. i.e. WH reporters have routinely been locked out of juicy stories for decades, yet managed to not embarrass themselves the way they do today.
WH journalists are most definitely not at the "top of their game." And that's the real problem with beat.
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?