E.J. Dionne: Media Must Hold Republicans Accountable for 'Expansive Rhetoric'

Washington Post columnist E.J. Dionne is calling for the media to hold the newly-sworn in Republican House majority accountable for their "expansive rhetoric" as well as "how their ideas translate into policies that affect actual human beings."

Such a charge seems laughable almost 24 months after the Obama-loving press disgracefully gushed and swooned over every word uttered by the nation's 44th President before and after he took the oath of office:

If journalism in a democracy is about anything, it is about bringing the expansive rhetoric of politicians down to earth and holding them accountable for how their ideas translate into policies that affect actual human beings.

It may be easier to report windy speeches about "liberty" and "entrepreneurship" than to do the grubby work of examining budgets, regulations, programs and economic consequences. But journalists surely want to be more than stenographers.

Michael Oakeshott, another great conservative philosopher, declared: "It is the mark of all intelligent discourse that it is about something in particular." Let's encourage the new professors who would govern us to deal with particulars and not just their ideological dreams.

Is this how Dionne and his fellow so-called journalists behaved during the 2008 campaign and in the months immediately following Obama's inauguration?

Was the junior senator from Illinois' expansive rhetoric brought down to earth and examined for how it might actually translate into policies that affect actual human beings?

Or did people like Dionne get caught up in three words masterfully concocted by Obama's marketing team like a slogan for a new car or toothpaste?

Hope and Change indeed.

And after they assisted selling the man with absolutely no significant legislative accomplishments to the masses, did the media immediately hold him accountable for the ideas he wanted to impose on the nation?

I suggest Dionne revisit how ABC's Bill Weir reported the events of January 20, 2009:

BILL WEIR: We know that wind can make a cold day feel colder, but can national pride make a freezing day feel warmer? It seems to be the case because regardless of the final crowd number estimates, never have so many people shivered so long with such joy. From above, even the seagulls must have been awed by the blanket of humanity...

How's that for holding politicians accountable for their expansive rhetoric, E.J.?

Yet, there are even some better examples of Dionne's hypocrisy penned by the Post columnist himself.

Here's what E.J. wrote on January 15, 2009, just five days before the object of his affection was sworn in:

For the past two years, Barack Obama has made it hard for anyone to pin him down philosophically. So when he raises his hand on Tuesday, exactly what -- beyond the efforts of an eager, data-driven problem-solver -- can the American people expect?

Imagine that. In a piece hysterically titled "Audacity Without Ideology," Dionne admitted - almost celebrated - the fact that Obama - who was about to become the most powerful man on the planet - had not yet been pinned down philosophically, and the American people really didn't know what they were getting as President of the United States.

Wasn't it the responsibility of E.J. and his colleagues to flesh that out? Where were Dionne's calls for media to hold Obama accountable for the ideas he was imparting to the citizenry?

Sadly, they were absent five days before Inauguration Day, and didn't materialize as the event approached as E.J.'s January 19, 2009, column "Why the Uniter Divided Us" just bashed George W. Bush:

There are many reasons why most Americans are not mourning President Bush's departure. But our new president would do well to concentrate on the deeper causes of the public's disaffection with the man headed to Texas.

No calls for media to examine Obama's expansive rhetoric there.

But even more hypocritical was Dionne's January 22, 2009, column:

One of the wondrous aspects of Obama's inaugural address is the extent to which those on the left and those on the right both claimed our new president as their own.

Many conservatives were eager to argue that Obama is destined to disappoint his friends on the left because the president who now wields power will be far more careful than the candidate who deployed rhetoric so ecstatically.

Obama deployed rhetoric so ecstatically.

Now, almost two years later, Dionne is calling on his fellow "journalists" to hold Republicans accountable for their "expansive rhetoric."

What a difference a "D" makes.

Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard
Noel Sheppard, Associate Editor of NewsBusters, passed away in March of 2014.