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The Democratic Strategist

Political Strategy for a Permanent Democratic Majority

When GOP Memes Seep into MSM Political Reporting

It’s still very early in the new year, but were there an award for GOP meme-propagation in the MSM, I’d bet on Politico’s “Partisan Washington: Obama’s broken promise” by Carrie Budoff Brown and Jonathan Allen.
I’ve read other articles by these writers that seemed balanced enough. But to me, this one has an odious whiff of political bias in an ostensibly non-partisan publication. I assume that the authors know that Obama has bent over backwards to accommodate GOP leaders, so much so that he has lost progressive supporters. The bias favoring Republicans in the post could be more in the editing, as suggested by the headline. Regardless, the article’s argument, though unconvincing, is heavily weighted against President Obama.
The authors do acknowledge that “For Obama, like his predecessors, the [bipartisanship] promise was impossible to keep without buy-in from the rest of Washington.” Though a few Democrats are quoted for ‘balance,’ however, the post leans more heavily on anti-Obama hyperbole like “The tales of perceived insults are legion” and “He stunned Republicans with the recess appointments, but they were only the latest aggravation,” presumably to get readers all dewey-eyed about the tenderness of Republicans’ hurt feelings.
The article faults Obama for not trying hard enough “to build relationships” with GOP leaders, even though he has dined, met, called and played golf with them. This particular Republican complaint is reminiscent of Newt’s hissy-fit when he had to exit Air Force One from the back door in ’95 during the Clinton administration. Only today’s GOP clearly doesn’t need a social snub to obstruct all legislative compromise.
Like every president, Obama can be faulted for his shortcomings. But the GOP meme that Obama hasn’t been willing to compromise is a dubious stretch. Few unbiased observers would hang the onus of failure to achieve bipartisanship on the President more than House and Senate Republicans.
The article conveniently ignores or glosses over the GOP’s knee-jerk filibusters, the Republican blocking of once-routine presidential appointments, the much larger number of recess appointments by all recent Republican presidents, GOP Rep. Joe Wilson’s “you lie” tantrum during the President’s address to a joint session of congress in ’09 and the GOP leaderships’ naked admissions that ‘destroying’ Obama is job one etc. And while ‘Blue Dogs’ and other moderate Democrats cross party lines regularly in congressional votes, there aren’t any ‘Red Dogs,’ are there?
With benefit of hindsight, there are undoubtedly some things Obama could have done better to reduce partisan polarization. But blaming him for not trying hard enough is a lot closer to GOP propaganda than an unbiased evaluation. I’m all for partisan editorializing, left and right. But it shouldn’t masquerade as unbiased journalism.

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