New York Times White House correspondent Mark Landler followed President Obama out West on what certainly felt like a partisan campaign tour. Landler acknowledged Obama’s partisanship and “acidic words” for the G.O.P., but also protected the president’s right flank by characterizing his appeals for higher taxes and his class rhetoric as “populist,” not liberal, and by failing to correct the false impression Obama gave of shameful audience behavior at two Republican presidential debates.
Landler led off his Tuesday piece, “After Feisty Fund-Raising, a More Sociable Obama,” with a focus on the media’s new favorite rich guy, Doug Edwards.
President Obama met his dream date on Monday at a town hall meeting in Silicon Valley: a balding, soft-spoken former Google employee who said he was so rich he did not have to work anymore and begged Mr. Obama to raise his taxes.
“I’m unemployed by choice,” said the man, Doug Edwards, who confirmed later that he was the 59th person hired by Google and had written a book titled “I’m Feeling Lucky.” “My question,” he said, addressing the president, “is would you please raise my taxes?”
Mr. Obama, who has spent much of this campaign-style trip to the West Coast inveighing against Republicans and the unfairness of the tax code, suggested he would gladly oblige.
“Right now, we’ve got the lowest tax rates we’ve had since the 1950s, and some of the Republican proposals would take it back, as a percentage of G.D.P., to where we were in the 1920s,” Mr. Obama said at the meeting, held by the social media site LinkedIn.
That swipe at the opposition was mild compared with the acidic words the president used in a series of fund-raisers on Sunday, when he ridiculed Gov. Rick Perry of Texas for questioning the science of climate change and scolded audiences at recent Republican presidential debates for being hardhearted.
Landler worked in a strange crack about a Facebook town hall meeting held with Republicans:
In what might be called antisocial networking, Facebook held a town hall meeting in Palo Alto hours after Mr. Obama’s appearance, with three House Republican leaders and bitter antagonists of the president: Eric Cantor of Virginia, Kevin McCarthy of California, and Paul D. Ryan of Wisconsin, author of the Republican budget plan.
Facebook’s chief operating officer, Sheryl Sandberg, who introduced Mr. Obama warmly at her home on Sunday, moderated the meeting with these self-described “Young Guns,” who were eager to discuss technology, innovation and growth.
Landler later failed to challenge Obama’s characterization of Republicans allegedly booing a gay soldier or cheering the death of a hypothetical man lacking health insurance at two recent Republican presidential debates.
And he singled out Republican debate audiences for booing a gay soldier who had served in Iraq and for cheering the suggestion that a gravely ill man without health insurance be allowed to die.
“That’s not reflective of who we are,” Mr. Obama declared. “At some level, we’ve always believed, you know what, that we’re not defined by our differences. We’re bound together.”
Obama’s words are also not reflective of the “audiences” booing and cheering. Both instances involved two to three hecklers at most within the large live audiences. But no one at the Times apparently watched the Republican debates, given the failure of the paper's journalists and columnists to report the details correctly.
Lander followed the president to Denver and characterized Obama's hard-driving, big-spending attitude as "populist," not liberal: “Seizing Populist Mantle, Obama Pushes Jobs Bill.”
After two days of energetically raising money in the rarefied precincts of Hollywood and Silicon Valley, President Obama stopped at a big-city high school here on Tuesday to push for new ways to spend money.
Promoting his $450 billion jobs bill, Mr. Obama said the $25 billion in the legislation for repairing and renovating schools would allow Abraham Lincoln High School, a well-kept but aging institution, to update science laboratories of a 1960s vintage.
“My question to Congress is: What on earth are we waiting for? Let’s get to work,” Mr. Obama said to a boisterous crowd of students. Speaking in shirtsleeves under a baking sun, he asked: “Why should our students be allowed to study in crumbling, outdated schools? How does that give them the sense that education is important?”
Reprising the populist themes of recent speeches in Ohio, North Carolina and Virginia, Mr. Obama repeatedly challenged Republicans to pass the jobs bill. Extending the cut in payroll taxes would put $1,700 into the pockets of a typical Colorado working family, Mr. Obama said, and refusing to do so would amount to hitting them with a tax increase. Cries of “pass the bill” competed with chants of “four more years.”
Far from rejecting the Republican accusation that he is waging class warfare, Mr. Obama now seems to revel in it.