holding the entire government hostage while demanding the de facto repeal of a president’s signature legislation and not even bothering to negotiate is by any reasonable standard an extreme political act. It is an attempt to make an end run around the normal legislative process. There is no historical precedent for it. The last shutdowns, in 1995 and 1996, were not the product of unilateral demands to scrap existing law; they took place during a period of give-and-take budget negotiations.
But the political media’s aversion to doing anything that might be seen as taking sides — combined with its obsession with process — led them to actively obscure the truth in their coverage of the votes. If you did not already know what this was all about, reading the news would not help you understand. What makes all this more than a journalistic failure is that the press plays a crucial role in our democracy. We count on the press to help create an informed electorate. And perhaps even more important, we rely on the press to hold the powerful accountable.
That requires calling out political leaders when they transgress or fail to meet commonly agreed-upon standards: when they are corrupt, when they deceive, when they break the rules and refuse to govern. Such exposure is the first consequence. When the transgressions are sufficiently grave, what follows should be continued scrutiny, marginalization, contempt and ridicule. In the current political climate, journalistic false equivalence leads to an insufficiently informed electorate, because the public is not getting an accurate picture of what is going on.
In my part of the nation, early voting has commenced-while this year in Ohio, it’s purely local. My city is electing a Mayor and Council. This year, I am going to vote early anyway. After all, even President Obama started off as a state legislator.
If there are no elections, this is the perfect time to register if you haven’t already, or re-register if you’ve moved or changed your name. Get ready for next year here
President Barack Obama shares a humorous moment with a group of doctors from around the country in the Oval Office, Oct. 5, 2009, prior to a health insurance reform event at the White House.
(Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Vice President Joe Biden in the doorway of the Oval Office, Oct. 6, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama listens to Ron A. Bloom, senior advisor to the Treasury Secretary, during the Economic Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, Oct. 6, 2009. Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner is seated at right. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)
President Barack Obama talks with Senior Advisor David Axelrod and National Economic Council Director Larry Summers following the Economic Daily Briefing in the Oval Office, Oct. 6, 2009. (Official White House Photo by Pete Souza)