HuffPo’s Fineman Marvels: ‘Untouched’ Obama to Win Election ‘By Default’

Most editors spend a lot of their time assigning, proofreading, copy editing, and fact-checking articles for their news organizations while trying to eliminate any bias in their stories, or at least strive to balance information from both sides of the political aisle.

Judging by a post entitled “Barack Obama Floating Like a Butterfly,” that's apparently not the case with Howard Fineman, editorial director of the Huffington Post and far-too-frequent MSNBC guest.

Fineman begins his article by comparing Obama with boxing legend Muhammad Ali, who “floated like a butterfly and stung like a bee.”

He then states that Obama is “essentially untouched” in his “presidential prizefight” with GOP candidate Mitt Romney, even though the incumbent has been hit with “non-stop ridicule, contempt and even xenophobic hatred from some precincts of the Republican/conservative opposition.”

Unfortunately, Fineman doesn't list any examples of this misconduct by the GOP.

He does, however, state that the current political situation “is not good for anybody: for the country, for the voters, for the political parties or even for Obama and his administration.”

The reason? If American democracy is to work, presidential elections must be real contests over real ideas and real records, informed by real facts. 

“This campaign hasn't really been any of those things,” he states before remarking that presidents do not deserve to be reelected “by default.”

And elected leaders need to be held to account -- pinned up against the wall, so to speak -- if citizens aren't to become utterly disillusioned with the idea that we live in a system of democratic self-government.

Nevertheless, Fineman notes that Obama's standing in the polls has improved “without having to seriously and substantively defend his first-term failed promises or shortcomings, and without having to say much, if anything, about what, if anything, he might do substantially differently if he is fortunate enough to win again.”

The president's term in the White House has resulted in many failures, including the inability to reduce the unemployment rate, revive the housing market, provide a detailed defense of the vast expansion of the security state, close down the Guantanamo prison, and how the government will remain solvent despite trillions of dollars in debt.

So why is Obama not being blown out of the water in any recent polling?

Fineman states that part of the blame must be placed on the Romney campaign, which believed that the Obama presidency would collapse of its own weight, the GOP candidate's lack of charisma and credibility, and an action plan so vague that it allows the president to be vague, too.

But, as blogger "Ace" notes, Fineman's attempts to be even-handed were insincere, since his first three explanations for Obama's apparent popularity consist of things supposedly wrong with Mitt Romney.

Finally, after exhausting any other possibility, Fineman turns to another factor in this year's election: the media:

Obama was such a cool and uplifting story to so many in the media in 2008 that they essentially ceded ground to him that they have yet to reclaim.

He ran a tightly controlled message campaign then, and has run an even more tightly controlled White House, with few press conferences and deep access only to those most likely to write positive stories.

Of course, this was exactly how the George W. Bush campaign and presidency also operated. Somehow that did not stop the media from routinely criticizing him and his policies.

Fineman's brief moment of mental clarity ended here sadly. If he truly believes the media is unfairly helping Obama win election by default, couldn't he, um, as an editor or something, assign Huffington Post reporters to do more than just be stenographers for the latest Chicago talking points? We also would love to see the column “Ace” asks Fineman to write on “Why the Media Never Calls Obama to Account.”

Randy Hall
Randy Hall