The anti-Obama Republican/media narrative and why Democrats need to overcome it
I've said it before -- a lot recently, reacting to the reaction to last week's election in Massachusetts -- and I'll say it again, I'm sick and tired of the fucking media's news fucking narrative, the story they're spinning to explain the way it is in Washington now. It's repackaged GOP propaganda, conservative talking points filtered through an enabling Beltway establishment, that's all, and yet it's being vomited into the gaping mouths of "news" consumers all across America.
Consider, for example, the opening paragraph of an ABC News article on how Obama "rather be a really good one-term president than a mediocre two-term president":
President Obama, buffeted by criticism of his massive health care reform bill and election setbacks, said today he remained determined to tackle health care and other big problems despite the political dangers to his presidency.
First, it's not his reform bill, it's the Democrats' generally, and there are substantial differences between House and Senate Democrats, and it's not "massive" -- there's no public option, no government takeover of anything, no socialist menace -- it's a market-oriented approach to extending coverage and taking a bit of the power to deny coverage away from profit-driven insurance companies that have far more interest in their bottom lines than in the health and well-being of the American people (in fact, it's much better for the insurance companies, not to mention the drug companies, that people remain sick).
Second, there haven't been election setbacks, just a single setback, and, as I and many others have said again and again, it was not a referendum on Obama but rather a somewhat nationalized local election with a weak Democratic candidate and a strong Republican one that had far more to do with the poor state of the economy, for which Obama can hardly be blamed, than with Obama's and/or the Democrats' political agenda, health-care reform included.
Third, it's far too early to be talking seriously about "the political dangers to his presidency." Obama is only a year into his presidency, and, while Democrats may lose seats in Congress in this years's midterms, a common occurence for first-term presidents, the Republicans remain deeply unpopular and without anything resembling a viable alternative agenda. And, as of right now, some of the leading candidates to oppose Obama in '12 are all deeply flawed: Romney, Huckabee, Palin. Jeb Bush and perhaps Pawlenty are potentially more dangerous opponents, along with Jindal, Thune, and Cantor, but who knows who will emerge from the increasingly right-wing GOP?
To be fair, much of the rest of the article is fair, more or less, but only because it quotes Obama from an interview with Diane Sawyer, and it's a positive development that he's transitioning quickly to address the economy, the leading driver of public opinion at the moment, as he will in Wednesday's State of the Union address -- just as long as he doesn't abandon or significantly strip down health-care reform. There is simply too much at stake there, and it would be a disaster for Democrats to pass up this once-in-a-generation opportunity to begin to fix a broken system.
But the media narrative persists, backed up by Republican attacks, and Obama and the Democrats now find themselves in the difficult position of having to change or overcome that narrative if they want to get anything done without losing short-term public support (in the long term, Democratic initiatives like health-care reform should prove to be immensely popular). Doing so will require unity, courage, and determination, and yet, thus far, they have shown little capacity to be united, courageous, or determined.
Maybe now, driven to this point, a feckless majority seemingly incapable of taking advantage of the incredible opportunity to implement meaningful change on a wide variety of issues, Democrats will rise to the occasion.