Jun
27
2014

This Sunday, a Different Kind of Iraq War Booster: Bill Clinton

clinton-mtp

NBC Meet the Press taps Bill Clinton to talk Iraq. But will viewers know that Clinton was also a crucial supporter of the invasion?

May
09
2014

The White House and the Awesome Power of Several Bloggers

NationalJournal-Obama

National Journal reporter James Oliphant has discovered that the Obama White House has a very powerful weapon it can deploy against its critics: bloggers.

May
02
2014

Bill Clinton's Critics Are…Who, Exactly?

clinton-legacy

Big efforts are underway to burnish Bill Clinton's economic legacy. The New York Times does its part by failing to quote critics of Clinton's record.

Apr
19
2013

Democrats Can't Blame Guns for '94 Losses

Bill Clinto (cc photo: Thomas Shahan)

There are perhaps plenty of lessons in the (most recent) Senate failure to pass even modest new restrictions/regulations on gun ownership. But one lesson needs to be resisted: The idea that passing a more expansive gun control law in 1994 came back to bite Democrats in the midterm elections.

Sep
06
2012

AP's Mostly Factless Factcheck

One of the problems with media "factchecking" is the notion that all things must be "checked" equally. If you factcheck a Republican and find three whoppers, your fact check of a Democrat better work real hard to find a comparable level of spin or dishonesty. Which is exactly how Associated Press reporters Matt Apuzzo and Tom Raum approached Bill Clinton's speech at the Democratic convention last night. Clinton's speech–along with others–"either cherry-picked facts or mischaracterized the opposition." But their first example is extraordinarily weak. They quote Clinton talking about the difference between Obama and Republican leadership when it comes to […]

Sep
04
2012

Newsweek: Obama Needs to Be Clinton

A few weeks ago Newsweek got a lot of attention for Niall Ferguson's factually challenged cover story slamming the Obama case for re-election. This week, in true corporate media style, we get the "other" side: An argument that Obama should move the Democratic party to the right. Peter Boyer's piece, "Why Barack Needs Bill," recycles some of more dubious claims about the effectiveness of Clinton's brand of center-right "triangulation." Since this is the media's usual advice for Democrats– move to the right in order to capture the center– it's worth unpacking. Clinton-style "New Democrats," Boyers explains, "have nearly vanished." And […]

Jun
07
2012

NYT Tax Talk: What Does 'Politically Sensitive' Mean?

Most people think rich people should pay more in taxes. And they think the government should spend more to help revive the economy. The New York Times knows this—but still calls this discussion "politically sensitive." Today Jonathan Weisman has a piece (6/7/12) about recent comments by Bill Clinton and former Clinton/Obama economic adviser Larry Summers. The piece primarily channels Republican claims that these Democrats want to keep tax rates low for the wealthy. But that does not appear to be what either of them actually said, and both have released statements denying the Republican spin. Nonetheless, the article treats the Republican […]

May
04
2012

Obama, Bill Clinton and the Need to Move Rightward

In corporate media, some political arguments are treated as indisputable fact. One of the most important: Democrats win by moving to the right. In the New York Times (5/3/12), Peter Baker offers the latest example: Mr. Obama, who campaigned on Sunday with Mr. Clinton, seems to be following his Democratic predecessor's playbook. After a generation of Democrats alienating voters with liberal domestic positions, Mr. Clinton moved the party toward the center on issues like trade, welfare and deficit spending. First off: Democrats had been alienating voters for a generation with their liberal policies? I am not sure what this is […]

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 […]

Dec
13
2010

Obama Pulls a Clinton on the Liberal Base

One of the more annoying corporate media storylines since the midterms dwells on whether or not Barack Obama will move to the "center" in order to have better luck in the 2012 elections. The conventional wisdom is that Bill Clinton did this after terrible losses in the 1994 midterms, and his "triangulation" proved once and for all that successful Democrats move to the right. There are several reasons this is nonsense–Clinton was more or less the original DLC "New Democrat," so he was consciously and conspicuously to the right of the party base all along. The press wanted to nudge […]

Jul
19
2010

Left to Take Blame for Centrism's Political Disaster–Once Again

In his New York Times column today (7/19/10), Paul Krugman offers a prediction about the likely pundit response to the drubbing Democrats are expected to take in the November elections: What I expect…if and when the midterms go badly, is that the usual suspects will say that it was because Mr. Obama was too liberal–when his real mistake was doing too little to create jobs. Krugman is on solid historical ground here: There is indeed a longstanding pattern of Democratic politicians, previously praised by pundits for their determinedly centrist policies, later being attacked by the same punditocracy for their self-defeating […]

Aug
13
2009

Hillary Clinton and 'Celebrity Coverage'

The dominant story from Hillary Clinton's trip to Africa was not her comments about combating rape and sexual violence in Congo. No, the top story was Clinton's testy response to a question about what her husband thought of Chinese business interests in Kenya Congo. That exchange prompted a whole story in today's New York Times by Jeffrey Gettleman ("Clinton's Flash of Pique in Congo"). While that's already kind of sad, it turns out that the questioner misspoke; he actually meant to ask what Barack Obama thought of these deals. But either way, apparently, you get to psychoanalyze Hillary Clinton: After […]

May
01
2009

Washington Post's War Against Chavez Continues

The Washington Post editorial page regularly slams Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez, so it was no surprise to see it do the same on April 30. Their real point, though, was to suggest that Barack Obama's desire to change the tone of the U.S.-Venezuelan relationship wasn't going to work: The administration's strategy–to open up a constructive dialogue with Venezuela and avoid being cast as Mr. Chavez's Yanqui foil–is reasonable; it is also the same strategy as was tried, unsuccessfully, by the previous two administrations. It's hard to imagine that anyone believes that the Bush administration's Venezuela policy amounted to "constructive dialogue." […]