Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Attacking the Media Narrative

When it comes to influencing the press, it's all a show:
Obama’s sudden burst of public outreach coincides with a drop in his approval ratings, noted first by Democratic pollsters advising the White House last week and now surfacing in a spate of public polls. This raises the uncomfortable question: Is this schmooze-a-thon a legitimate act of humility and leadership or a cynical public display?
I can’t answer that question because I don’t pretend to know Obama’s state of mind. I can tell you that some of his advisers are no more convinced that this strategy will work than they were a few days ago.
“This is a joke. We’re wasting the president’s time and ours,” complained a senior White House official who was promised anonymity so he could speak frankly. “I hope you all (in the media) are happy because we’re doing it for you.”
Another said the president was sincerely trying to find common ground with stubborn Republicans. “But if we do it,” the aide hastened, “it won’t be because we had steaks and Merlot with a few senators.”
The real effort behind reaching out to the Republican members of the Senate is to deflect a lot of the lazy "high Broderism" that exists in the media coverage of the White House right now. By carrying to burned-out torch of David Broder, the media can walk around all day long, yelling about how President Obama doesn't socialize or get along with members of Congress like everyone always did back in the good old days.

These people do not have to get along in order to get things done. But someone does need to acknowledge that the Republican hatred for the President extends well past the point where it stops being about anything other than personal and destructive. The Republican Party has obstructed the country into ruin. Everything else that the media discusses beyond that major point is simply posturing and bullshit. 

Want to get something done? Then the media needs to tell the American people that the Republicans will not stop obstructing everything. Ron Fournier is looking into the soul of the president because, quite frankly, there's nothing else to write about. The truth is fairly evident, but the horse race is all anyone wants to read about. This is the equivalent of writing about a car that is sitting on four flat tires as having the wrong kind of hubcaps.

...No other President, as has been often remarked, kept Congress so busy; and, we may add, none of his predecessors (unless it were Lincoln with the legislation required by the Civil War) put so many new laws on the national statute book. Mr. Charles G. Washburn enumerates these acts credited to Roosevelt’s seven and a half years’ administration: “The Elkins Anti-Rebate Law applying to railroads; the creation of the Department of Commerce and Labor and the Bureau of Corporations; the law authorizing the building of the Panama Canal; the Hepburn Bill amending and vitalizing the Interstate Commerce Act; the Pure Food and Meat Inspection laws; the law creating the Bureau of Immigration; the Employers’ Liability and Safety Appliance Laws, that limited the working hours of employees; the law making the Government liable for injuries to its employees; the law forbidding child labor in the District of Columbia; the reformation of the Consular Service; prohibition of campaign contributions from corporations; the Emergency Currency Law, which also provided for the creation of the Monetary Commission.”

Although the list is by no means complete, it shows that Roosevelt’s receptive and sleepless mind fastened on the full circle of questions which interested American life, so far as that is controlled or directed by national legislation. Some of the laws passed were simply readjustments—new statutes on old matters. Other laws were new, embodying the first attempt to define the attitude which the courts should hold towards new questions which had grown suddenly into great importance. The decade which had favored the springing-up and amazing expansion of the Big Interests, had to be followed by the decade which framed legislation for regulating and curbing these interests. Quite naturally, the monopolists affected did not like to be harnessed or controlled, and, to put it mildly, they resented the interference of the formidable young President whom they could neither frighten, inveigle, nor cajole.

And yet it is as evident to all Americans now, as it was to some Americans at the time, that that legislation had to be passed; because if the monopolists had been allowed to go on unrestrained, they would either have perverted this Republic into an open Plutocracy, in which individual liberty and equality before the law would have disappeared, or they would have hurried on the Social Revolution, the Armageddon of Labor and Capital, the merciless conflict of class with class, which many persons already vaguely dreaded, or thought they saw looming like an ominous cloud on the horizon. It seems astounding that any one should have questioned the necessity of setting up regulations. And will not posterity wonder, when it learns that only in the first decade of the twentieth century did we provide laws against the cruel and killing labor of little children, and against impure foods and drugs?
[emphasis mine]

You can read that again and again and see that, in a little over a hundred years, virtually nothing in American political life has changed except for the technology and the desire to avoid run-on sentences.

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