This is becoming somewhat comical the way members of the press are noting that three weeks into his first term Obama has failed to make all sorts of sweeping political, cultural and diplomatic changes.
From a Journal column by Bret Stephens which, yes, sorta reads like The Onion:
Barack Obama has now been president for 21 days, following an inauguration that was supposed to have pressed the reset button on America's relations with the wider world and ushered in a new period of global cooperation against common threats.
See? Obama hasn't substantively altered America's relations round the world in three weeks time. Fraud!
...their latest assault on reality, echoed by Limbaugh's cadres in Congress: The New Deal Was A Failure. Franklin D Roosevelt won his first term against a pillar of Republicanism, incumbent reactionary Republican Herbert Hoover. Hoover managed to garner 59 electoral votes against FDR's 472. At that point Roosevelt embarked upon the most successful economic recovery plan in the history of the United States, the New Deal, meant to lift the country out of the Depression that decades of unregulated right-wing economic policies had caused.
When Roosevelt ran for re-election in 1936, his opponent, Kansas Governor Alf Landon, a tax cuttin' anti labor union fanatic, only managed to win two states, Maine and Vermont (8 electoral votes). He even lost Kansas. FDR's 523 electoral votes also saw the Republican Senate caucus drop down 16 members. In the House the GOP managed to hold onto 88 seats (20%). Although Republicans were screaming the same tired anti-working family nonsense then that they're screaming now, the voters, cognizant of their unblemished record of dismal failure, were ignoring them.
In 1940 the GOP candidate, Wendell Wilkie, campaigning on a platform calling the New Deal inefficient and corrupt and not subservient enough to Big Business, led the GOP to another well-earned electoral catastrophe. The only states he won were Maine, Vermont, Michigan, Indiana, Iowa, North Dakota, South Dakota, Nebraska, Kansas, and Colorado, for a total of 82 electoral votes (to Roosevelt's 449). Roosevelt's last run, in 1944, was against Thomas Dewey, who wound up with 99 electoral votes (to FDR's 432) after he added "communism" to the charges Wilkie had run on against the New Deal.
My column this week was on this very subject. If you've not yet seen this great video of MSNBC's David Shuster and Newsweek's Jonathan Alter discussing right-wing attacks on the New Deal, check it out:
Newsmax's Ronald Kessler has a problem with the facts as ConWebWatch notes today:
...in his Feb. 9 column, in which he quotes Ken Klukowski, " a legal expert who consults for major conservative interest groups," as saying of Obama: "Remember, Barack Obama has spoken out in terms of redistributive justice and considered it a shame that the Warren Court, which is the most liberal court in American history, did not engage in wealth redistribution."
That is false -- Obama never said that. As we've repeatedly noted, the context of Obama's words clearly demonstrate that he said the civil rights movement relied too much on the court system to advance its agenda instead of promoting change from the bottom up, i.e., legislatively, and that the Warren Court did not address it was a sign that it was not as radical as right-wingers have claimed it to be.
In a Feb. 10 column, Kessler uncritically passes along a claim by Republican Rep. Paul Ryan that "spending stimuluses were tried in Japan in the 1990s and in America in the 1930s, but they never have worked." In fact, as Media Matters has pointed out, New Deal and Japanese stimulus packages were shown to fail only when their implementation was abandoned in an attempt to reduce deficits.
Perhaps ConWebWatch is unaware that the "max" in "Newsmax" refers to their "max"imum use of false and misleading information in their so-called reporting.
Note: ConWebWatch's Terry Krepel is a senior editor at Media Matters.
Having helped lead the Beltway media charge in the Obama's-losing-the-message-war brigade surrounding the stimulus bill, The Note, conceding that Obama's Monday night press conference helped changed the dynamics of that message war, quickly shifts gears and today starts hyping Obama doom-and-gloom surrounding the bank bailout legislation:
President Obama can still dictate a message -- as Monday's hour-long primetime news conference (just 13 questions, with answers as mini-lectures) clearly showed. But he has a long way to go before Washington will be his -- as the narrow Senate vote, and the tenuous compromise that's emerging out of Congress, show equally well.
As for what he needs Washington to come through on -- that gets even more complicated Tuesday. Now the president needs the nation to swallow not just an $800 billion stimulus package, but more help for banks (rivals of Congress in the race for low approval ratings these days).
Did you notice how Obama's been president three full weeks and Washington still is not yet his? (What's wrong with this guy!?) BTW, love the doomsday "narrow Senate vote" language. Because in case you already forgot, the senate vote on closure for the stimulus bill was 61-36.
The Politico's Roger Simon claims that in order to gin up support for the stimulus bill Obama has to try to scare Americans straight [emphasis added]:
He must simultaneously petrify people and also restore their confidence. He must scare us to death and calm our fears. He must convince the nation that the times are so dire we must carry out his bold plans immediately, and then he must persuade us to be patient and give his plans time to work.
This echoes the right-wing media chatter about how Obama is supposedly fear-mongering the issue of the economy; how he's spooking out Americans who, apparently, would otherwise be unconcerned about the state of the country's finances.
Not quite. Last month--and before Obama started allegedly fear-mongering the issue--pollsters with the Diegeo/Hotline survey asked voters:
Which of the following would you say best describes the current economic situation in the United States? The biggest economic crisis the U.S. has faced in your lifetime. A crisis, but not the worst in your lifetime. A major problem, but not a crisis. OR, Not a major problem.
An astonishing 60 percent of voters said the current situation represented the worst financial crisis the country had faced in their lifetime. Just 18 percent thought it was not a problem.
There's no proof Obama has to "scare" anybody.
Even by Washington Times standards, Joseph Curl's column today is notable for its use of completely bogus assertions in order to try to make Barack Obama look bad.
Take a look at this passage, for example:
None of it mattered, though, because Mr. Obama called reporters from a list on the podium, and reporters buzzed afterward about how he didn't seem to know a single reporter he called on - at least in the front row.
"And let me go to Jennifer Loven at AP," the president said, looking to his left, and then back a row or two before finding the AP reporter front and center, about eight feet from the podium. "Ah, there you are."
"Caren Bohan of Reuters?" he said after finishing a long economics tutorial. He looked left and right before finding the red-headed reporter - right next to Miss Loven.
"All right. Chuck Todd. Where's Chuck?" Mr. Obama said before finding the goateed reporter in the third row. "Ed Henry. Where's Ed? CNN. There he is," he said shortly after Mr. Henry stood up. "Major Garrett. Where is Major?" he said before finding the reporter back in the cheap seats.
Curl claims the buzz was that Obama didn't seem to know the reporters he called on. But the evidence he provides actually proves the opposite. Curl thinks he's describing Obama not knowing who the reporters are - but he isn't; he's describing Obama not knowing where the reporters are sitting. Indeed, Curl's examples indicate that Obama does know the reporters - if he didn't know who they are, he wouldn't have found them.
Elsewhere, Curl complains that "Sam Stein of the archly liberal Huffington Post" and the "unabashedly liberal" Ed Schultz were seated in the front row. But Curl's complaint isn't that ideological reporters were seated in the front row; his complaint is that liberal reporters were in the front row. See, Curl is also upset that "Fox News' Major Garrett was dispatched to the fourth row, far to the right of the presidential podium." Given Fox's track record, they should be relieved that anyone still plays along with the idea that they're a news organization rather than annoyed that they had to suffer the indignity of sitting in the fourth row at a press conference.
Finally, Curl lead his column with several paragraphs about members of the black press who were upset that they didn't get to ask a question. Curl noted:
While most on the front row got to pose a question to President Obama, the two reporters from the black press did not. Nor did any other black-press reporter, for that matter.
Now, that's fine as far as it goes, and Curl presumably didn't make up the quotes he included from two reporters complaining that they didn't get to ask a question. But it is more than a little odd that Curl didn't note until the very end of the column, after the nonsense about Obama not knowing the reporters that he called on, that Obama took questions from two black reporters:
The president ticked through all the usual suspects, calling on the three wires and all five networks before hitting The Washington Post and New York Times, both of whom sent black reporters. The only other question from outside the box was from NPR.
"Mara Liasson?" the president said as he scanned the crowd.
Politico is amplifying Curl's column (can Drudge be far behind?) -- and actually out-did Curl in one regard, asserting: "At the presser, one black reporter did get called on, The Wash Post's Michael Fletcher." Actually, it was two: Fletcher and Helene Cooper of the New York Times.
According to the Associated Press, the stimulus bill being passed by Congress contains "pork" because it might pay for a highway construction project in Indiana, which in turn might remind people of the Bridge To Nowhere. And that means Obama's a hypocrite because he's trying to have it "both ways." Boy, nothing like laying on the GOP talking points, eh?
From the AP's Calvin Woodward's latest misadventure in journalism:
President Barack Obama had it both ways Monday when he promoted his stimulus plan in Indiana. He bragged about getting Congress to produce a package with no pork, yet boasted it will do good things for a Hoosier highway and a downtown overpass, just the kind of local projects lawmakers lard into big spending bills.
But does Woodward have the slightest idea--proof--whether the vaguely referenced highway construction in Indiana would be some sort of wasteful boondoggle? No. Does the AP know if th project would be unneeded? No. Does Woodward know if the highway's a pet project of a local politician? No, he does not. But it sounds like it might be, so he used it to claim Obama's not being truthful about the stimulus bill.
Can the media's economic 'debate' get any dumber?
From Goldberg's February 9 syndicated column:
The stimulus bill has failed. Barack Obama has failed. The Trojan Horse of Hope and Change crashed into the guardrail of reality, revealing an army of ideologues and activists inside.
Now, before I continue, let me say that Barack Obama will still be popular, he will still get things done and he will declare victory after signing a stimulus bill.
But Obama's moment is gone, and politics is about nothing if not moments.
The stimulus bill was a bridge too far, an overplayed hand, 10 pounds of manure in a 5-pound bag. The legislation's primary duty was never to stimulate the economy, but to stimulate the growth of government.
There was just too much muchness in the bill. Voters are souring on it. Republicans finally discovered testicular fortitude - and they seem to like it.
There is still probably bipartisan support for a stimulus bill, but only for a measure intended to stimulate our market-based economy rather than one that hastens its Swedenization.
The perfect storm of liberalism has dissipated to scattered showers.