Fareed Zakaria: 'Liberals Need to Grow Up' and Stop Criticizing Obama
Liberals need to grow up and stop criticizing President Obama.
So said Fareed Zakaria Sunday on the CNN program bearing his name (video follows with transcript and commentary):
FAREED ZAKARIA, HOST: Over the last week, liberal politicians and commentators in America took to the air waves and OpEd pages to criticize the debt deal that Congress reached. But their ire was directed not at the Tea Party or even the Republicans, but rather at Barack Obama, who, they concluded, had failed as a president because of his persistent tendency to compromise. This has been a running theme ever since Obama took office.
Exactly what news outlets does Zakaria frequent if he believes the ire of liberal politicians and commentators last week "was directed not at the Tea Party or even the Republicans?"
From the moment stocks began declining after the debt ceiling was raised, the blame has all gone to the Tea Party and the GOP.
Did Zakaria somehow miss all the left-wing talk about the Tea Party Downgrade? Is this man completely oblivious to what happens around him, or does he believe much like New York Times columnist Paul Krugman that there should have been absolutely no reporting of conservative views concerning the debt ceiling?
Whatever the answer, Zakaria started his opening op-ed with a deeply flawed premise, and it was all downhill from there:
ZAKARIA: I think that liberals need to grow up. As "The New Republic's" Jonathan Chait brilliantly points out, there is a recurring liberal fantasy that if only the president of the United States would give a stirring speech, he would sweep the country along with the sheer power of his poetry and enact his agenda.
In this view, write Chait, every known impediment to the legislative process - special interest lobbying, the filibuster, macro economic conditions, not to mention certain settled beliefs of public policy - are but tiny stick huts trembling in the face of the atomic bomb of the presidential speech. This does happen if you're watching the movie "The American President," but not if you're actually watching what goes on in Washington.
Maybe this "recurring liberal fantasy" was fostered by folks like Zakaria that presented Barack Obama to the American people as a messiah. If the public has a Hollywood-like view of this president, it's because the media put him on a pedestal like nobody before him.
It is therefore quite hypocritical of Zakaria to scold citizens for behaving exactly the way he and his colleagues trained them to:
ZAKARIA: The disappointment over the debt deal is just the latest episode of liberal bewilderment about Obama. "I have no idea what Barack Obama believes on virtually any issue," Drew Westen writes in "The New York Times." Confused over Obama's tendency to take balanced positions, Westen hints that his professional experience, which is as a psychologist, suggests deep traumatic causes for Obama's pathology.
Let me offer a simpler explanation. Obama is a centrist and a pragmatist who understands that in a country divided over core issues, you cannot make the best the enemy of the good. Obama passed a large stimulus package within weeks of taking office. Liberals feel it should have been bigger. But, remember, despite a Democratic House and Senate, it just passed by one vote.
He signed into law an unprecedented expansion of regulations in the financial services industry, though it isn't one that broke up the large banks. He enacted universal health care through a complex program that was modeled after the Republican Mitt Romney's plan in Massachusetts. And he's advocated a balanced approach to deficit reduction that combines tax increases with spending cuts.
Now, maybe he just believes in all these things. Maybe he understands that with a budget deficit that is 10 percent of GDP, the second highest in the industrialized world, and a debt that will rise to almost 100 percent of GDP in a few years, we cannot cavalierly spend another few trillion hoping that it will jump start the economy.
Maybe he believes that while American banks need better regulations, America also needs a vibrant banking system and that, in a globalized economy, constraining American banks alone will only ensure that the world's largest global financial institutions will be British, German, Swiss and Chinese. He might understand that Larry Summers and Tim Geithner are smart people, who, in long careers in public service, got some things wrong, but also many things right.
Perhaps he understands that getting entitlement costs under control is, in fact, a crucial part of stabilizing our long-term fiscal situation and that you do need both tax increases and spending cuts - cuts, by the way, that are smaller than they appear because they all start from the 2010 budget, which was boosted by the stimulus.
Is all this dangerous weakness, incoherence, appeasement? Or is it just common sense?
Or is this an extremely unqualified individual who is way over his head and should never have been given the adulation and sycophantic praise he's received from so-called journalists as well as those in the entertainment media since the moment he tossed his hat into the presidential ring back in 2007?
No matter what the answer, it is fairly clear that Zakaria is not likely to become an Obama critic regardless of what happens to the economy, the debt, or the nation's credit rating.
That's all the Tea Party and Republicans' fault because "Obama is a centrist and a pragmatist" possessing "common sense."
The good news for Zakaria is this intransigence represents job security.
If CNN ever tires of him, he certainly has a home at MSNBC.