From its First Thoughts [emphasis added]:
To paraphrase Dickens, the last six weeks have been the best of times for Obama and the Democrats, and the worst of times for the Republicans. Just consider the latest findings from our NBC/WSJ poll: Obama's favorability rating is at 68% (an all-time high in our survey), 67% say they feel more hopeful about his leadership, 60% approve of his job in the White House, and 49% have a positive view of the Democratic Party (which is also near a high). On the other hand, just 26% view the GOP positively (an all-time low in the poll), respondents blame Bush and congressional Republicans for most of the partisanship in DC, 56% think the GOP's opposition to Obama is based on politics, and Republicans lose by nearly 30 percentage points on the question about which party would do a better job of leading the country out of recession.
All's I can say is thank God for polling. Because if the surveys didn't exist we'd still have a press corps focusing on the Republicans' "win" over Obama's stimulus package. (Why? Because Republicans always outmaneuver Democrats.) A win that, according to the American people and not the surgically disconnected Beltway press corps, was actually a colossal failure.
For those with short-term memory woes, let's recap how, just a few weeks ago, the press was tipping its cap to the GOP and its genius stimulus strategy of going all in against Obama and slapping the president's hand of bipartisanship.
*Politico's Jeanne Cummings warned Obama was "losing [the] stimulus message war."
*The Los Angeles Times, Peter Wallsten asserted that "[a] surprisingly unified GOP has taken control of the debate" about the stimulus plan.
*The Wall Street Journal's Jonathan Weisman and Naftali Bendavid referenced in a February 6 article "Republicans' remarkable success during the past two weeks ... shaping a public image of the bill as pork-laden and ineffective."
*Newsweek senior editor Michael Hirsh wrote that that Obama "has allowed the GOP to turn the haggling over the stimulus package into a decidedly stale, Republican-style debate over pork, waste and overspending." Hirsh continued: "Team Obama and his party are losing the debate" about the stimulus plan.
*On MSNBC's 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue, Newsweek senior White House correspondent Richard Wolffe claimed the Democrats' "messaging has not worked." Wolffe also stated of the administration: "What they haven't done is say, hey, it's not just about spending. It's about mitigating, softening the blow of this recession for regular, working Americans. That's the bit they've failed on. They've let it be hijacked by all this extraneous spending programs."
*On CNN's Lou Dobbs Tonight, congressional correspondent Jessica Yellin asserted that "official Washington has decided Obama is losing the PR war on the stimulus."
To repeat: the Republicans' public approval ratings are now at an all-time low. The press never saw that coming.
The AM talker's jump-the-shark moment from yesterday's show, where Limbaugh suggested Obama appear on his radio show for a debate (no deluded sense of self-grandeur there, right?), comes against the backdrop of Limbaugh refusing a previous public debate.
As Jason Linkins notes at HuffPost:
Perhaps he has forgotten, but Limbaugh already has a standing challenge from CNN's banisher of "bias" and "bull" Campbell Brown, to appear on the air and debate their chief business correspondent, Ali Velshi, who Limbaugh had previously maligned. Oh, and here's some trash talk from a Democratic party operative, who writes, "Just saying...if you cant stand up to Campbell, you shouldn't be calling Rahm effeminate and calling out the President."
First we had Time's Michael Scherer with his the-Democrats-made-Rush-do-it nonsense (click here for a chuckle), and now Times' David Von Drehle tops that with his painfully dumb take on the Limbaugh story.
Criticizing Rush Limbaugh: Over the Line?
That's right, Rush is now the victim.
Read, if you must:
Sooner or later, most presidential administrations make some version of the Sun King's mistake. "L'etat c'est moi," press secretary Robert Gibbs crept up to that line - even put his toe over - as he tried to capitalize on the anti-Obama declarations of talk-show behemoth Rush Limbaugh.is said to have declared - "I am the state." To criticize the man becomes downright unpatriotic.
Got that? Reporters asked Gibbs about Limbaugh. Gibbs answered, and now Gibbs is at fault because, according to Von Drehle, the arrogant White House is trying to silence dissent.
Von Drehle, completely making stuff up, claims the White House has dubbed criticism "unpatriotic."
In yet another example of what County Fair's own Eric Boehlert described as the press awakening from its slumber "just in time to aggressively press the new Democratic administration," the NYT's controversial science reporter John Tierney --American Progress' Joe Romm called him "easily the worst science writer at any major media outlet in the country"-- has written a column and two blog posts in the last couple of weeks fretting about the kind of advice President Obama might receive from some of his science advisors, most specifically John Holdren (Obama's pick for Science Advisor) and Steven Chu (Obama's Secretary of Energy). If you find it odd that a journalist who did little to no reporting on the widespread and well documented distortion of science and the scientific process during the George W. Bush administration would suddenly find it important to write about the politicization of science in Washington, you are not alone.
After his January 23 column, "Politics in the Guise of Pure Science," Tierney noted that he was asked by critics "[w]hy start worrying now about scientists pushing a political agenda" and isn't it disingenuous "to worry about the politicization of science now instead of during the Bush administration?" In his own defense he writes: "I agree that there were lots of attempts to use science for political ends during the Bush years. I wrote about some of the questionable claims by the Drug Enforcement Administration and the White House drug czar's office." So, while the Bush administration was busy placing unqualified political appointees in scientific positions, muzzling agency scientists, ignoring scientific findings when making federal health and environmental rules, manipulating the scientific advisory system in favor of ideology and industry, and editing reports in way that distorted scientific data, Tierney wrote about some "questionable claims" by the DEA and White House drug czar. Got it.
And just why is Tierney now concerned about "honest science"? Have Holdren or Chu been accused or found guilty of distorting scientific evidence or manipulating the scientific process for political purposes? No, Tierney is "concern[ed] about some of the debating tactics used by Dr. Holdren and his allies" early in Holdren's career, back in the 70s and 80s. Tierney's also concerned that Holdren, as Tierney sees it, has a "tendency to conflate the science of climate change with prescriptions to cut greenhouse emissions." According to Tierney, "There are other ways to cope, and there's no 'scientific consensus' on which path looks best." Of course, Joe Romm -- an actual scientist, as opposed someone like Tierney, who "always wanted to be a scientist but went into journalism because its peer-review process was a great deal easier to sneak through,"-- has noted that the idea that climate change science does not suggest the need to cut greenhouse gas emissions is just absurd.
As for Chu, Tierney cites one comment that Chu made in an interview with the Los Angeles times where he suggested that the effects of climate change could reduce the snow pack in the mountains of California to such an extent that there could be "no more agriculture in California," making it difficult to "keep their cities going." While Chu's comment may strike some as going beyond what the available science would allow us to predict with any degree of certainty, Tierney failed to mention that Chu reportedly was describing a worst case scenario or that the LAT reported that "[a] pair of recent studies raise similar warnings." Moreover, Chu's singular comment hardly provides evidence that we should be worried about whether Chu and other advisors give Obama "realistic plans for dealing with global warming and other threats." But it's good to see that Tierney has his watchful eye on the use of science in Washington, this time around.
Eagerly adopting the latest media spin (spoon-fed by Rush, of course), Scherer claims it's Democrats who have created the Limbaugh controversy.
Really? It's Democrats who sparked the internal debate within the GOP about Limbaugh's role in the movement? It's Democrats who elevated Limbaugh to leadership status? It's Democrats who prompted Limbaugh to say all kinds of controversial and hateful things in recent weeks? It's Democrats who told Fox News to broadcast Limbaugh's 80-minute speech Saturday night? It's Democrats who forced the GOP chief to bow down to Limbaugh on Monday? And it's Democrats who turned Limbaugh into a laughing stock?
Who knew Democrats were so powerful?
As one astute Time commenter notes:
GIVE ME A BREAK. The White House has spent a total of maybe 20 minutes on Rush in the last week. The Republicans are the ones causing their own meltdown.
UPDATE: And apparently it's Democrats who convinced conservative columnist Kathleen Parker to write yet another MSM column about Limbaugh ("Rush to the Wrong Choice"). How do Democrats do it?
Here's how the Wall Street Journal describes the findings of a new WSJ/NBC poll:
The president's support, while still deep, looks increasingly partisan as Republicans move away from him.
The Journal doesn't provide Obama's approval ratings among Democrats, Republicans, and independents, so it's hard to say for certain, but it sure looks like it would be more accurate to say that opposition to Obama is increasingly partisan.
That is to say: if Democrats and independents generally approve of Obama, and Republicans generally disapprove, it's more accurate to say that opposition to Obama is partisan than to say support for him is.
Compare and contrast these two online headlines today.
"Obama's rating at all-time high"
"Support for Obama, but Challenges Await"
And Check out the leads. From MSNBC [emphasis added]:
After Barack Obama's first six weeks as president, the American public's attitudes about the two political parties couldn't be more different, the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll finds. Despite the country's struggling economy and vocal opposition to some of his policies, President Obama's favorability rating is at an all-time high. Two-thirds feel hopeful about his leadership and six in 10 approve of the job he's doing in the White House.
President Barack Obama enjoys robust support from the American public, but a new NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll suggests potential bumps ahead for his ambitious domestic agenda.
Note how MSNBC simply reports the results of the poll, which are rather amazing (by 48-20 percent the public thinks Dems are better handling the economy than GOP), whereas CNBC downplays the results and looks ahead to what problems could await Obama.
In fact, one half of John Harwood's CNBC article is about what might go wrong for Obama. Harwood though, is mum about the fact that the poll finds the GOP's favorability at an all-time low.
UPDATE: Let's look at how WSJ reported the polling results. Here's its headline:
"Obama Gets Strong Support in Poll"
And it lead:
President Barack Obama enjoys widespread backing from a frightened American public for his ambitious, front-loaded agenda, a new poll indicates. He is more popular than ever, Americans are hopeful about his leadership, and opposition Republicans are getting drubbed in public opinion, the new Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll suggests.
Like MSNBC, the Journal reports the obvious news angle about the polling data. Only CNBC seems preoccupied with stressing what might go wrong for Obama.
Editor's Note: Yesterday ABC News published a version of this story which some readers felt did not provide a comprehensive enough analysis of Obama's tax code for those families making $250k or more. ABCNews.com has heard those concerns and after review has decided to post an updated version of the story below.
The problem with the original article wasn't really that it failed to "provide a comprehensive enough analysis of Obama's tax code," it was that the article gave the false impression that an individual's entire income is taxed at the highest rate for which the individual qualifies.
There are problems with the second draft, but it is much better than the first, and a welcome acknowledgment that the first was deeply flawed. Check it out here.
From a March 4 Washington Times editorial:
Driving snow froze the hopes of organizers of "the biggest global warming protest in history" Monday in Washington. With the government on a two-hour snow delay and the speaker of the House unable to attend because her flight was grounded by inclement weather, shivering protestors gathered on the west front of the Capitol, the latest victims of a climatological phenomenon known by the scientific community as the Gore Effect.
The Gore Effect was first noticed during a January 2004 global warming rally in New York City, held during one of the coldest days in the city's history. Since then, evidence has mounted of a correlation between global warming activism and severely cold weather.
A year ago a congressional media briefing on the Bingaman/Specter Climate Bill was cancelled due to a cold snap. In October 2008 London saw the first snow since 1922 while the House of Commons debated the Climate Change Bill. That same month Al Gore's appearance at Harvard University coincided with low temperatures that challenged 125-year records. Tellingly, the average global temperature for each of the 366 days in 2008 was below the average for Jan. 24, 2006, the date Gore's "An Inconvenient Truth" was released at the Sundance Film Festival.
Critics claim the Gore Effect is mere coincidence, though one could also argue that coincidence is also the basis for the anthropogenic theory of climate change. Alternative theories, e.g., citing the influence of sun spot activity, have gained increasing credence as scientists have noted global warming in recent years on other planets, which presumably have been human-free. Significant data issues have also arisen, such as the recent discovery of a chunk of Arctic sea ice the size of California that satellites had missed (but which in all probability had been known to polar bears).