WaPo Hails Obama's 'Zest for Inquiry,' This 'Probing, Cerebral' President -- Who Failed the Left

It’s not every day that a front-page Washington Post report has copy that can be mocked as “Auditioning to Be the Next Obama Girl.” (That is, unless you count Eli “Obama's Chiseled Pectorals” Saslow.) James Taranto of The Wall Street Journal designated this florid passage for that title, from a sprawling 5,355-word Wednesday front-page article by reporters Michael Leahy and Juliet Eilperin.

The moment was vintage Obama -- emphasizing his zest for inquiry, his personal involvement, his willingness to make the tough call, his search for middle ground. If an Obama brand exists, it is his image as a probing, cerebral president conducting an exhaustive analysis of the issues so that the best ideas can emerge, and triumph.

Slogging through the entire article (eating up all of two inside pages) demonstrates that the Post reporters were praising Obama’s “zest” and thoughtfulness even as they summarized how Obama, in their view, struck too “centrist” a path by supporting offshore drilling and stiff-arming the Left – which Leahy and Eilperin never identify as liberals, merely as “environmental activists.” The Post reporters say Team Obama was trying to find a “grand bargain” to pass a “climate-change bill.”

It was not even a “cap and trade” or “carbon pricing” bill, terms that might suggest a little bit of command-and-control economics. It was a “climate-change bill,” as in “A climate-change bill was the holy grail.” Leahy and Eilperin also euphemistically described it as “a comprehensive energy policy featuring a decisive shift to ‘clean’ sources such as wind and solar power.”

Obama first stiffed the Left in the transition process. Radical-leftist Rep. Raul Grijalva was described merely as “a favorite of environmental groups,” but he wasn’t pro-drilling-bargain enough, so Team Obama gravitated to Ken Salazar and his “more moderate views.” His “centrist inclinations aligned better with the president-elect’s leanings.” Not only that: “For his White House energy adviser, Obama brought aboard another moderate: Carol Browner.”

At least the Post didn’t try to describe Sen. Lindsey Graham as a conservative. “He had nurtured his reputation as a soft-spoken negotiator with credibility across the political divide.” Graham was the most conservative person quoted in this story. There were no climate skeptics to be found or even mentioned anywhere in the 5000-plus words.

While they scowl at Obama's misguided "centrism" on offshore drilling, the article also successfully steered around any mention of last week's report by Obama's own oil-spill commission that said the administration created the impression that it was "either not fully competent" or "not fully candid with the American people about the scope of the problem." (That, by the way, wasn't on the front page of the Post on October 7. It was on A-6.)

Leahy and Eilperin also praised Obama’s style in a second spoonful of sugar before introducing their liberal thesis:

How had this happened? How had Obama -- the man who came into office promising a rigorous, evidence-based post-partisan style of analysis -- come to believe that he lacked the facts he needed to make such an important decision?

It was more than bad luck and bad timing. This article, based on dozens of interviews with people directly involved, reveals that fundamental questions weren't pursued because top administration officials generally accepted the conventional view of the industry's safety record. They were focused on the environmental issues - how drilling and a possible spill would affect sensitive habitats - and not on the engineering risks of exploration.

It’s amazing that if Obama had followed the leftist energy-taxing agenda and tried to ram that through Congress with just the liberal base in support, that would have been more “post-partisan” to the Post reporters. It’s obvious that they think a left-wing program is easily defined as “rigorous” and “evidence-based.”

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