Thursday, October 22, 2009

Obama and the cowardly goons; or, Politico's incorrect and appallingly stupid "analysis" of the president's response to his critics


Politico yesterday published one of the worst "news" articles I've read in some time, an Obama smearfest by Jim Vandehei and Mike Allen. Here's how it starts:

President Obama is working systematically to marginalize the most powerful forces behind the Republican Party, setting loose top White House officials to undermine conservatives in the media, business and lobbying worlds.

With a series of private meetings and public taunts, the White House has targeted the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, the biggest-spending pro-business lobbying group in the country; Rush Limbaugh, the country‚Äôs most-listened-to conservative commentator; and now, with a new volley of combative rhetoric in recent days, the insurance industry, Wall Street executives and Fox News

Obama aides are using their powerful White House platform, combined with techniques honed in the 2008 campaign, to cast some of the most powerful adversaries as out of the mainstream and their criticism as unworthy of serious discussion.

And so on, and so on...

First, note the language here: The White House campaign against the GOP/conservatives is systematic. It includes taunting. The rhetoric is combative. It is succeeding in part because the White House platform is powerful. Obama views his adversaries as unworthy.

This isn't the language of a news article, nor even of a fair-minded analytical piece. It's the language, simply put, of partisanship, and of attack.

Second, note the message here: What is happening is wholly the White House's, and hence Obama's, doing. Conservatives simply want to be part of the discussion, but they are being pushed out by the powerful effort of the presidency. Conservatives are the good guys. Obama and his minions are the bad guys.

Interestingly, the piece reflects the sense of victimhood that plagues the right. Woe is us! They're taunting us! They're attacking us! We're being marginalized! They're making us feel bad! Pity us!

Of course, the article does not consider that, actually, this analysis gets it completely wrong. Obama is, to an extent, fighting back, that much is true, but he is fighting back only because Republicans have so far spent his entire presidency trying to obstruct his every move, while conservatives have gone much further, questioning the very legitimacy of his presidency and using a kitchen sink approach to their smear campaign. Think about the Birthers, the Teabaggers, etc.

Yes, it's simple: They started it. However immature that may sound, it's true. From the very start, Obama has reached out to Republicans/conservatives -- on the stimulus package, on health-care reform, on Iraq, etc. He has done this, moreover, while alienating many on the left who supported him.

The problem for these conservatives, including those at Politico, is that they're not used to Democrats calling them out and pushing back. Basically, Obama isn't about to take their shit, nor should he. And now, as is their tendency, they're complaining about the way they're being treated. Allow me a hockey metaphor. Throughout the whole game so far, they've been slashing and hooking and cross-checking and taking cheap shots at every turn. At long last, the superstar they've been pushing around stands tall, drops his gloves, and challenges them to a fight. And what do they do? They drop to their knees and turtle, covering their heads with their hands and begging the referees and linesmen to protect them. And the superstar simply skates away, rallying his team for what lies ahead, having exposed his adversaries for for what they are, a bunch of cowardly goons.

Of course, that's now how Politico sees it, but, honestly, what did you expect?

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