Media Help Obama Bash Republicans, Forget 'Polarizing' Charge Against Bush
President Obama's weekly radio address on Saturday devoted the entire hour to a hyper-partisan, long-winded, meandering speech about his Republican critics being too -- wait for it! -- partisan.
Fortunately for him, a compliant national media would simply forward the attack on their own pages and never pause long enough to smell the irony.
In the middle of alleged job offers, controversial nominations, and unpopular bills shoved through Congress along party lines, President Obama complained about "dreary and familiar politics" from the opposition, and the media immediately took his side.
Up first was the Washington Post's Scott Wilson who used the 44 blog on Saturday to cover the speech:
A frustrated President Obama assailed congressional Republicans on Saturday for holding up legislation he said is important to the country's economic recovery, and he called for up-or-down votes on the measure and on scores of his nominees in the Senate as soon as possible.
"I was disappointed this week to see a dreary and familiar politics get in the way of our ability to move forward on a series of critical issues that have a direct impact on people's lives," Obama said in his weekly radio and Internet address.
Obama has often sprinkled criticism of Washington's partisan culture - a target of his 2008 campaign - throughout his weekly addresses. But he has rarely devoted the entire speech to the subject, and his doing so Saturday was a sign of his exasperation and concern that a failure to push through measures to benefit the staggering economy could hurt his party in the November elections.
Wilson was correct about one thing: President Obama does often complain about partisan games. It seems that all of his problems can be traced back to incompetent Republicans or partisan critics, and he will gladly give a partisan speech to tell you about it.
Yet it never occurred to Wilson to mention any of that. In fact, Wilson went on to quote President Obama further:
In his address, Obama said, "The political season is upon us in Washington, but gridlock as a political strategy is destructive to the country."
"Whether we are Democrats or Republicans, we've got an obligation that goes beyond caring about the next election," he said. "We have an obligation to care for the next generation. So I hope that when Congress returns next week, they do so with a greater spirit of compromise and cooperation. America will be watching."
Sadly, other news outlets took the same tack of ignoring Obama's glaring hypocrisy.
Politico covered the address in a short report that mentioned nothing of the past. The New York Times used the occasion to repeat guilt-stricken quotes about "unemployed Americans" and families who can't afford to buy a home. Worst of all was the Associated Press, which spoke directly in its headline about "making life harder for the jobless" - never bothering to wonder if such partisan blame-games from the president could be partially responsible for things being harder.
It was just a few years ago that partisan arguments from the president were seen as divisive and polarizing. Of course, that was when a Republican was in the White House, and liberal Democrats were the ones stalling. Back then, the media were quite annoyed by sitting presidents who criticized the other party.
On November 5, 2004, Salon published a rant from an enraged Cass Sunstein who encouraged fellow progressives to keep fighting after Bush's reelection victory:
After this intensely fought election, both President Bush and Sen. John Kerry are speaking of the need to heal our divisions and come together as a single, united nation. They're wrong. Critics of the Bush presidency do not need to heal our divisions but to insist on them. President Bush has presided over an extraordinarily divisive and polarizing administration. The suggestion that we should now "heal our divisions" is really a suggestion not for unity but for capitulation...
This is not a time to yield to a radical agenda for our nation's future or its Constitution. Nor is it time to heal our divisions. It is time to shout them from the rooftops.
The media's response to that strategy was something less than outrage. In fact, this view of politics was acceptable fare back then.
A few months later, NBC's David Gregory curtly reported that "bipartisanship appears to be out" thanks to President Bush refusing to work with liberal Democrats. He accused Bush of "barreling ahead" with unpopular agendas and "not talking about compromise."
In 2005, Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne had this to say about Bush:
Recent months, and especially the past two weeks, have brought home to a steadily growing majority of Americans the truth that President Bush's government doesn't work. His policies are failing, his approach to leadership is detached and self-indulgent, his way of politics has produced a divided, angry and dysfunctional public square. We dare not go on like this.
In 2007, the NY Times called Bush "a polarizing president like no other" who had "given little ground" to Democrats. When Bush fought a plan in Congress to expand federal funding for children's health insurance, the Times quoted Rahm Emanuel saying, "I'm at a loss over what is driving him with this strategy."
That was how a Republican president was treated for refusing to give in to the opposition. It had nothing to do with obstructionist liberals who refused to let the nation heal, even though they had stated that very thing as their goal. Bush refused to lie down for liberal agendas, so obviously he was the cause of all the friction.
How convenient that liberal Democrats are now in charge of Washington, and suddenly the president is excused for being partisan.
It would appear that, according to our media, the definition of compromise is when conservatives give up.