Jan
11
2011

NYT: Clintonian Centrism a 'Strategic Masterstroke'

A New York Times profile (1/8/11) of author/economist Robert Reich was headlined "Obama the Centrist Irks a Liberal Lion." It's hard not to see where reporter Michael Powell comes down in the debate over Democrats moving to the right: Mr. Reich sees a parallel with his former boss, Mr. Clinton, and draws no comfort from the comparison. Confronted with a muscular Republican majority in the House in 1994, Mr. Clinton mastered triangulation, which is to say he sailed into a sea neither Republican nor Democratic. It was a strategic masterstroke, but he threw overboard some liberal founding stones. It's hard […]

Feb
22
2010

Delusions of Radicalism: A Longstanding Media Syndrome

Think Progress's Matthew Yglesias (2/22/10) points to a rather bizarre Economist editorial (2/18/10) blaming President Barack Obama's problems on his failure to move to the right: It is not so much that America is ungovernable, as that Mr. Obama has done a lousy job of winning over Republicans and independents to the causes he favors. If, instead of handing over healthcare to his party's left wing, he had lived up to his promise to be a bipartisan president and courted conservatives by offering, say, reform of the tort system, he might have got healthcare through; by giving ground on nuclear […]

Dec
07
2009

Dana Milbank and the Church of Obama

The Washington Post's Dana Milbank (12/6/09) thinks there's something wrong with left-wing critics of Barack Obama.As his lead put it: Some parishioners in the Church of Obama discovered last week that their spiritual leader is a false prophet. Milbank startswith Michael Moore, who wrote an open letter urging Obama not to escalate the Afghanistan war.This makes no sense to Milbank, since Obama never said he'd withdraw troops.Well, yes. I suspect many of Obama's critics–maybeeven Michael Moore–are aware of that.Moore also supports single-payer healthcare, and wishes Obama would too. Does that mean that continuing that advocacy with Obama in the White […]

Dec
04
2009

Joe Klein: Obama No Reagan

Time columnist Joe Klein (12/3/09) was not altogether impressed by Obama's announcement of a 30,000 troop escalation in Afghanistan (an "iffy proposition," as Klein put it). But Klein's main point was that Obama should have justified the war differently: "Once you have made the decision to go, or to redouble your efforts, you must lead the charge–passionately and, yes, with a touch of anger." Then he describes the better way: Ronald Reagan would have done it differently. He would have told a story. It might not have been a true story, but it would have had resonance. He might have […]

Dec
01
2009

Still Upset About Obama's Dithering

A meeting of the minds between NBC host Chris Matthews and Washington Post columnist David Ignatius (Chris Matthews Show, 11/29/09): IGNATIUS: The long period of analysis, very deliberative, robs this of passion. This is–he was going to be a wartime president now, and he has to sell the country on the idea that our young men and women are going to go there, fight and get killed. MITCHELL: Yes. IGNATIUS: And, you know, I think this, you know, this is not going to…. MATTHEWS: So too much Chamberlain, not enough Churchill. IGNATIUS: Well, too much–too much college professor.

Sep
22
2009

The Neverending 2008 Presidential Campaign

Remember back in 2007/2008 when Democratic candidate Barack Obama was being called an elitist? Well, if you miss that kind of media coverage, the Washington Post's Dana Milbank has got you covered (9/18/09) here, writing up Michelle Obama's visitto aD.C. farmers market: The promotion of organic and locally grown food, though an admirable cause, is a risky one for the Obamas, because there's a fine line between promoting healthful eating and sounding like a snob. The president, when he was a candidate in 2007, got in trouble in Iowa when he asked a crowd, "Anybody gone into Whole Foods lately […]

Sep
16
2009

Are Obama's Critics Racist? Why Don't We Listen to Them?

Former President Jimmy Carter's statement (NBC, 9/15/09) that "I think an overwhelming portion of the intensely demonstrated animosity toward President Barack Obama is based on the fact that he is a black man, that he's African-American," has generated widespread discussion in the corporate media. But few of the many analyses of Carter's remarks give you much of a sense of why one might think that many of Obama's foes are motivated by racism. No one can look into another person's heart, of course. But many of Obama's most prominent critics have talked enough about the president and race to provide […]

Sep
14
2009

NYT 'Fact Checks' Obama

The New York Times (9/13/09) attempted to fact check a Barack Obama speech on healthcare. By all appearances, this is in the regular, non-satirical edition of the paper: Mr. Obama opened his 40-minute speech with what he called "disturbing news": a report from the Treasury Department that, he said, "found that nearly half of all Americans under 65 will lose their health coverage at some point over the next 10 yearsâ┚¬Ã‚ and that 'more than one-third will go without coverage for longer than one year." In fact, that is not precisely what the department found when it analyzed data from […]

Sep
14
2009

Yes, It Is Possible to Exaggerate How Hated Obama Is

"It is difficult to overstate President Obama's unpopularity in most of Louisiana," writes Campbell Robertson in a front-page New York Times article (9/11/09). Yet Robertson managed to pull it off. Robertson continues: "He lost handily to Senator John McCain here, picking up only 14 percent of the white vote. (The state is roughly two-thirds white.)" Fourteen percent? Wow, that is unpopular! But given that black and other non-white people have been able to vote in Louisiana for several decades now, wouldn't it make sense to give the actual share of the vote Obama received? That would be 40 percent, which […]

Sep
04
2009

Media Welcome for 'Baroque Conspiracy Theories' Not Unprecedented

What "surprises" Los Angeles Times columnist Michael Hiltzik (8/30/09) more than this summer's news full of "baroque conspiracy theories" and "weepy hysteria" is "the idea that these are somehow unprecedented." Hiltzik looks back to an earlier era of supposed presidential "socialism" in the U.S. to see such current claims as "merely the latest examples of a phenomenon that might be called Wirtism"–a label Hiltzik "just coined… to honor the memory of William A. Wirt": Wirt's day in the sun came back in 1934, when the obscure Midwestern blowhard placed himself at the center of a political maelstrom by "discovering" a […]

Sep
02
2009

'Personal Responsibility' Over 'Legacy of Racism'

Printing a letter to the editor from Leila McDowell (8/26/09), the New York Times has "Another Look at Obama's Speech to the NAACP"–from the group's on vice president of communications. McDowell starts with the fact that the "Times distinguished itself from most major media by virtually ignoring the 100th anniversary of the NAACP, which was started in New York"–and then, "when the Times finally did send a reporter…the resulting article ("Obama Gives Fiery Address at NAACP," July 17) focused on personal responsibility," even though "that was the least prominent part of Mr. Obama's speech": What was noteworthy was his discussion […]

Sep
01
2009

Joe Klein Advises Obama on Afghanistan

In his Time column this week, Klein writes: So what should Obama do about Afghanistan? His dilemma isn't as stark as has been posed in recent press accounts, with screamers on the right demanding slavish devotion to the military's wish list and screamers on the left demanding a withdrawal. The U.S. military has become far more … nuanced when it comes to making requests of presidents. The negotiations about what [Gen. Stanley] McChrystal can officially request will not take place anywhere near the public eye. It is very likely that more troops will be sent–to build and train the Afghan […]

Aug
24
2009

On Liberal Media's Single-Payer Failings

Longtime friend of FAIR Sam Husseini (Husseini.org, 8/21/09) has a new blog post responding to Robert Kuttner's recent Washington Post column, in which the American Prospect magazine editor "asks 'Where are the liberal protesters?'": It seems like a good question. Until one considers the source of the complaint–and that rather helps answer the question. Maybe the "liberal protests" are where the American Prospect's cover story of the "Baucus 13" is.Or the where the American Prospect's lengthy piece on Linda Allision's exchange with Obama is. Since clicking on the above links yields absolutely zero results in the American Prospect coverage, Husseini […]