Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Sunday, June 20, 2010

Piling on the President

Opening his Fathers Day gifts, Barack Obama must be basking in a rare moment of unconditional love as his White House is engulfed in a rising spill of criticism and disapproval from all sides.

After what Frank Rich terms a "doomed" speech on the Gulf gush, the President this weekend is being called, on the one hand, "snakebit" by Peggy Noonan, a speechwriter who ruined Bush I's reelection chances by having him mouth "Read my lips, no new taxes" and, on the other, "incompetent and amateur" by Mort Zuckerman, a real-estate tycoon who bought his way into publishing punditry only to end up high on the list of Bernie Madoff's Ponzi victims.

To make the gloom global, Der Spiegel, the post-Nazi German newsweekly with a taste for scandal, pronounces Obama "in danger of turning into an idealistic, one-term president like Jimmy Carter."

Amid all this, the Joe Barton "BP shakedown" flap gave Democrats only a temporary reprieve from bad news (and a hook for election fund-raising) as House Republicans shut down Barton by threatening to take away his privileged position for shaking down all the oil companies for contributions.

Meanwhile, stepping back for a longer view, the Washington Post suggests "narrative creep" in media preoccupation with the man who won the presidency less than two years ago as a quasi-mythic figure and now has to deal with a pileup of crises in the real world:

"The BP oil spill has largely been treated as the latest plot twist in the Obama epic. The plume of crude rising from the seabed is not only the worst environmental disaster in U.S. history, darkening the gulf and thousands of lives and pervading the nation with a sense of helplessness, it is a metaphor for Obama's loss of control, a revealing moment to study our protagonist."

But the explanation for Obama's current woes may be as simple as media payback, the process by which journalists elevate politicians and then, when that cycle is over, compensate by tearing them down. It happened to JFK in the last century and John McCain in this one.

When the current round of Obama trashing is over, the only direction he can go is up.


Serious Implications said...

Amidst all the criticism of Obama's handling of persistent problems, there don't seem to be many (or any) offered alternatives.

This dearth of ideas will either change or become even more obvious as the November election approaches and a few responsible journalists start asking candidates: "so what do YOU think we should do?"

Fuzzy Slippers said...

This is cute. Do you really think that the media is "bashing" BO? For fun, try reading some of the post-Katrina coverage/op-eds or heck, just pick any day of any week after say June 2002 re: President Bush. Then tell me if President Bush had made the manifold mistakes, missteps, and assorted manglings that BO has made he'd be getting so "bashed" as your Dear Leader.