Happy Talk Dominates the Washington Post

Monday’s Washington Post should be retitled Washington Happy Talk. Topping the right side of the page is the headline "Democrats upbeat on health-care bill" and below that, the headline "Obama priority shift could help his party." This is quite a shift from the gloom-and-doom days of President Bush.

The first story, by Post reporter Dan Eggen, noted the obvious point that votes are still lacking, but he played up what he called "the most optimistic talk" on the Sunday shows. Well, not exactly. He reported White House spokesman Robert Gibbs "declared ‘this is the climactic week for health-care reform.’"

But Gibbs was bolder than that. On CBS, he promised that by next Sunday, "[We]'ll be talking about the House having passed that proposal and us being a signature away from health care reform in this country."

Eggen used to be a Justice Department reporter pounding away at what liberals considered the Bush administration’s war on the Constitution. But this is all he could muster on the "Slaughter solution" talk in paragraph 15:

Rep. Eric Cantor (Va.), the second-ranking Republican in the House, also focused criticism Sunday on another possible Democratic strategy that would allow the House to effectively pass the Senate bill without directly voting on it -- a tactic used most commonly to raise the government's debt ceiling.

Cantor called the strategy "a perversion of the rules to go ahead and ram through this trillion-dollar health-care bill that's going to change everyone's health care."

That was it. There was no sign the Post or anyone else had questioned Slaughter and the Democrats about this potential pass-without-voting tactic.

The second story, by reporter Scott Wilson, on Obama potentially helping his party, carried more of a happy-talk tone, with these first two paragraphs:

Despite holding high-profile meetings last week on energy and immigration reform, President Obama will focus the next few months on two issues that could help his party in November: stronger financial regulations and ways to mitigate a Supreme Court ruling that allows direct corporate spending on behalf of candidates.

Those priorities, although still difficult to achieve in a partisan Congress, are highly popular with the Democratic base and could force Republicans to choose between supporting the president or defending Wall Street when much of the country blames big business for the economic decline.

Near the end of Wilson’s piece, it’s mildly amusing to see how he can’t possibly use terms like "liberal" to describe backers of amnesty for illegal aliens. They are "grass-roots activists" and "reform advocates," but not the organized Left:

On Thursday, Obama met first with a group of immigration reform activists and then Schumer and Sen. Lindsey O. Graham (R-S.C.), who are working on the issue. For Democrats, the party splits geographically and philosophically over the best way to manage the 11 million immigrants in the United States illegally.

The president led the meeting with the grass-roots activists, according to participants, and brought along several senior advisers, including White House political director Patrick Gaspard.

"We have the goal of passing it this year," said Eliseo Medina, executive vice president of the Service Employees International Union, who attended the meeting. "I think he wants to get it done this year. But the question is how."

Reform advocates plan to rally across the country Sunday, a way to pressure lawmakers that Obama encouraged in the meeting. But they warned Obama of growing disappointment among Latinos, the majority of whom supported the president in the last election.

It will be interesting to see if the Happy Talk Post is going to give massive and positive coverage to Sunday's amnesty rally, as they did in the Bush years. Or would that collide too much with the DNC optimism?

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis