Well, I think I’ve just reached my level of bullshit tolerance.
At the White House Correspondents’ Dinner, Barack Obama sliced and diced the assembled luminaries, depicting them as trivial ratings chasers more eager to pursue a scoop so as to drive ratings and sell more advertising, than serious practitioners of the art of journalism, plying their craft as a public trust so that free citizens in a free republic can be fully informed about the issues of the day so as to render sober decisions about their own lives.
The poster child for this frivolous “journalism” is Maureen Dowd of the New York Times, who seems to have upped her Obama-dismay to 11 over the past few weeks. The President’s take down of her article saying that he was nothing like Andrew Shepherd, fictional president in “The American President”, is a beauty to behold.
Maureen Dowd said I could solve all my problems if I were just more like Michael Douglas in “The American President”. Michael, what’s your secret, man? Could it be that you’re an actor in an Aaron Sorkin liberal fantasy?
Obama’s entire WHCD speech was a master class in telling a captive audience just how useless they were to the wider country’s problems which needed urgent solutions.
Of course, this failed media experiment through which we’re living is not one to be easily cowed by being embarrassed at its signature event of the year, their “Nerd Prom”—which is an affront to real nerds everywhere. Ms. Dowd returned with a variation on the same theme, and the White House press corps was its usual indolent, insolent, useless self, asking about Benghazi conspiracy theories and whether Obama had any “juice”.
These are the people over whom the President is supposed to have “juice”:
Sen. Pat Toomey (R-PA) told the Times Herald that some Republicans opposed his amendment to expand gun background checks because they didn’t want to “be seen helping the president.”
Said Toomey: “In the end it didn’t pass because we’re so politicized. There were some on my side who did not want to be seen helping the president do something he wanted to get done, just because the president wanted to do it.”
“In subsequent comments, he tried to walk that remark part-way back by noting he meant to say Republicans across the nation in general, not just those in the Senate.”
And these are the people sending Republicans to Congress:
Three in 10 registered American voters believe an armed rebellion might be necessary in the next few years, according to the results of a staggering poll released Wednesday by Fairleigh Dickinson University’s PublicMind….
Eighteen percent of Democrats said an armed revolt “might be necessary,” as compared to 27 percent of independents and 44 percent of Republicans.
Please, if someone can illuminate me as to how Obama is supposed to cajole these people to act on his priorities, I’m all ears.
Yes, the operative word is “leadership”. But leadership requires two parties: a leader of significant stature, and a body willing to be led for a common cause. We have the former; the latter has been erased from the American body politic.
The modern GOP is not a political party in the traditional American sense. It is, quite simply, a radicalized faction representing an increasingly diminishing segment of the population, which has appropriated the vestments of the former Republican Party, and maintains its precarious hold on power through electoral tricks. Democrats running for the House earned 1 million more votes than GOP candidates; but thanks to the country taking leave of its senses in 2010, blue states which have no business sending GOP majorities to the House were taken over by the Tea Party Republicans, who then promptly gerrymandered their temporary advantages into law.
This GOP does not want to be led by Barack Hussein Obama. It has spent the past four years demonizing him as an un-American outsider, an Other, a despoiler of all things good, true, Christian and American. Obama could have a tank-full of “juice” and it wouldn’t matter. Obama-hatred is the only thing unifying what’s left of the Republican Party. I have no doubt that Mr. Toomey and Marco Rubio will soon learn that trying to “do something” will not redound to their favor if that attempt at action in any way helps the incumbent in the White House.
And yet, the press keeps harping that Obama doesn’t “lead”, is too “confrontational”, doesn’t “inspire”. The sheer hackery of that analysis would make one laugh, if it weren’t coming from a press which is supposed to inform the public; in any civilized, industrial society, CNN, Fox News, and MSNBC wouldn’t be allowed to exist. But such is the state of our political reporting that focusing on the trivialities of politics is considered a “good job done”.
Barack Obama is a man who, every day, changes the political landscape. A generation is coming to maturity that will never vote for a Republican; the young, who were politically apathetic, are now supercharged; American politics will not be the same after Obama’s presidency. And yet the media views politics through the lens of the 1990s; it is hardwired to parrot right-wing discourse, for fear of being labeled “liberal”. It’s a label they shouldn’t fear; any pretense the media had of being liberal passed long ago; it is now a mere servant to a faction which wants to radically remake America in its vision, a vision of an America which never existed.
Brian Beutler’s closing paragraphs illustrate the pass in which the President finds himself:
So he has two options: He can do nothing. Or as a long shot he and his allies can create atmospheric and procedural and rhetorical conditions that might allow House Republicans to give Obama something he wants without appearing to have consorted with him in any way. Ideally while retaining a pretense that they’ve somehow dealt him a defeat. To try and find a sort of legislative wormhole connecting the House GOP’s irrational universe and the universe everyone else inhabits.
But that’s precisely what Obama meant at his press conference on Tuesday when he talked about building a “permission structure” upon which Congressional Republicans might engage in some responsible budgeting. We’ll have much more on that shortly, but he was actually describing the very peculiar and contorted community organizing campaign Dowd alluded to when she wrote that “The job of the former community organizer and self-styled uniter is to somehow get this dunderheaded Congress, which is mind-bendingly awful, to do the stuff he wants them to do. It’s called leadership.”
Right. But he called it a “permission structure” which I guess isn’t leadership-y sounding enough or something I don’t know.
Our media—which exists only to provide spectacle—can’t recognize that what Obama is doing is leadership. Leadership isn’t sexy. Leadership isn’t showy. Leadership is slow and painstaking, especially when the people with whom you have to come to agreement hate your very being.
But, there’s always Michael Douglas. Pop in a DVD of “The American President”, MoDo, and dream away.