Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Blinkered Blame

To use a newsman's quote, this story is "dog bites man" but it deserves a rant due to who it is and the truth revealed. So there's your rant warning.

Former NY Times editor Bill Keller had a piece out Monday lamenting the downfall of candidate Obama in which he largely blames Bush and the Tea Party, but in doing so he inadvertently illuminates--in his eastern elitist snotty way--why many conservatives think the mainstream media is biased as hell.

He lectures that the downfall comes from four places--Bush's mess, the Tea Party, some liberals, and Obama himself. Here he is taking the obligatory cheap shot at Tea Baggers:
The Tea Party faction has captured not only the Republican primary process, but to a large extent the national conversation and the legislative machinery. In Congress the anger is pandered to by Republicans who should know better, since their nihilism discredits not only the president they have cynically set out to make a failure, but their own institution. Voters are frustrated by this — Congress has the approval rating of bedbugs — but it remains to be seen whether the electorate will punish the real culprits or simply reward the candidates who run against that bogeyman, “Washington.”
So the baggers--who deserve to be punished--have not only hurt Obama (the shellacking) but they've also damaged the GOP while forcing the 2012 field into becoming anti-government robots. Since Keller later says Bush displayed a 'blinkered certitude' it's probably safe to assume he thinks anyone right of David Brooks is a nut.

Then he hits the left, and hits them hard:
The disenchantment of the liberals may seem less consequential; it’s not as if they are going to vote for Rick Perry. But Obama needs their energy if he is to keep his office and have any allies left in Congress. What he gets instead is a lot of carping. Obama’s deal to continue the Bush tax cuts, his surrender of a public option on health care, his refusal to call the Republicans’ bluff on the debt ceiling rather than swallow budget cuts — these and other compromises amount, in the eyes of the Democratic left, to crimes of appeasement.
Yes, but are they blinkered, intransigent crazies out to destroy their party and America? Of course not, they'll still vote for Obama. He explains their major sin:
To be disillusioned you must first have illusions. Some of those who projected their own agendas onto the slogans and symbols of the Obama campaign were victims of wishful thinking — fed by Obama’s oratory of change. Anyone who paid attention while candidate Obama was helping President Bush pass the 2008 bank bailout should have understood that beneath the rhetorical flourishes Obama has always been at heart a cautious, cool, art-of-the-possible pragmatist. When he sees that he lacks the power to get what he wants, he settles for what he can get.
They've just been too blinded to see all the greatness. Had they just bothered to pay attention they would have realized that Obama has crammed down health insurance reform, enacted a whole bunch of environmental regulations constricting business, all while trying hard to raise taxes on the rich and redistribute wealth (when not busy distorting the truth and campaigning). Why can't they just see the light?

So there you go. The former editor of one of the nation's most influential newspapers admits to being so juiced on Obama he really thought the man was elected because "we're all in this together", so hopeful of a wave of euphoria and glad the blinkered nut had been replaced. Obama had a lot of work to do correcting the legion of screw-ups he was handed, much much more than anyone realized, even the geniuses at the NY Times.

But wait--Keller does find some blame for the savior:
It’s not just that he has failed to own his successes. He has in a sense failed to define himself. He is one of our more elusive presidents, not deeply rooted in any place or movement. David Remnick’s biography called Obama a shape-shifter. At the fringes, that makes him vulnerable to conspiratorial slanders: he is a socialist, a foreign imposter, a jihadist, an adherent of black liberation theology. To a less paranoid audience, his affect comes across as aloofness or ambivalence.
He's failed to define himself but at heart he's a pragmatic pragmatist, getting any deal he can to champion compromise on any issue (except health care). That sounds like a definition. The poor guy has just been too humble to market such pragmatic certitude correctly.

Keller just can't bring himself to end a column with even a mild Obama rebuke, so he finishes with a flourish, leading the readers back to the real enemies:
Rick Perry, who likes to rouse Texans by claiming the right to secede from the union, sometimes sounds as if he has expanded his view to encompass the secession of all 50 states. Even Mitt Romney — at heart a Republican technocrat (and the only candidate I’ve ever seen give a campaign speech with PowerPoint) — talks as if the main role of the president is to grant waivers from any kind of mandate upon the states. Such is the power of our new, centrifugal populism.

Do they really believe this, or are they just playing to the Ron Paul libertarian niche? Do you really want to find out? So let’s get real. Yes, Obama could do better. But we could do a lot worse.
Notice that he found some politicians that ARE deeply rooted with personal definition and he thinks they are evil dangerous nuts. Much better to have the ill-defined shape shifting pragmatic pragmatist who stands for compromise on anything for another four years, no matter which way he goes, because after all the country is doing so well. Then he asks us to get real.

Ok, here's real. Obama saying "I won". Slogans such as "pass the bill now", or class warfare gimmicks like the "Buffet rule", or inferring fellow Americans who want smaller government and less taxes are just like AQ terrorists, "barbarians at the gate" clinging to their guns and God. Or that Hispanics must punish their enemies, hint, hint. Or that Republicans drove the car in the ditch and must sit in the backseat. All while unemployment is over 9 percent, the stock market is like a roller coaster, and the entire country is suffering a malaise. To Keller, that's a winner.

Is it any wonder this guy was in favor of spilling Bush era state secrets?

MORE 9/20/11

Paterico's (actually Karl's) view. The same opinion, just better written.

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