Plots and Thoughts

Stories the Politico Just Made Up

Posted in Analysis, Observations by Captain Optimistic on December 2, 2009

John F. Harris @ the Politico writes:

Presidential politics is about storytelling.

And so, apparently, is journalism.  John the concern troll continues:

But they all are serious threats to Obama, if they gain enough currency to become the dominant frame through which people interpret the president’s actions and motives.

Here are seven storylines Obama needs to worry about:

Let’s explore these one by one:

He thinks he’s playing with Monopoly money

Oppose or support the stimulus, it is beyond ridiculous to suppose that Obama doesn’t understand the amount of money at play or the gravity of the situation.

Too much Leonard Nimoy

Might Johnny have something here?

Obama, a legislator and law professor, is fluent in describing the nuances of problems. But his intellectuality has contributed to a growing critique that decisions are detached from rock-bottom principles.

His intellectuality isn’t the problem for anyone but Sarah Palin fans.  There is a concern his decisions are detached from the rock-solid principles he espoused during his campaign though.  But that makes him less a spock and more a run of the mill politician.  Aka totally an agent of change we can believe in.  Really.  4 Serious.

Both Maureen Dowd in The New York Times and Joel Achenbach of The Washington Post have likened him to Star Trek’s Mr. Spock.

Right and we should take them seriously?

That’s the Chicago Way

This is a storyline that’s likely taken root more firmly in Washington than around the country. The rap is that his West Wing is dominated by brass-knuckled pols.

Heh.  Well this sounds true.  Also?  Fine by me.

He’s a pushover

If you are going to be known as a fighter, you might as well reap the benefits. But some of the same insider circles that are starting to view Obama as a bully are also starting to whisper that he’s a patsy.

It seems a bit contradictory, to be sure.

Only when applied to his entire administration.  When viewed issue by issue, position by position – it becomes clear.  Brass knuckles on some issues, patsy on others.  Patsy on single payer health care.  Brass knuckles on pre-existing conditions.  What this actually indicates is that his administration doesn’t place the same value on all issues and positions.  Which is fine, except that elected Obama’s values differ from campaigning Obama’s values.  What may seem like weakness might instead by willful disregard.

He sees America as another pleasant country on the U.N. roll call, somewhere between Albania andZimbabwe

That line belonged to George H.W. Bush, excoriating Democrat Michael Dukakis in 1988. But it highlights a continuing reality: In presidential politics the safe ground has always been to be an American exceptionalist.

Bull.  There are plenty of Americans who do not conflate working towards respect of international law (not that Obama is doing this fully) with giving up our sovereignty.  It also doesn’t reflect Obama.  What it does reflect is Fox-News fueled anxiety about Obama giving speeches in countries where there are too many Muslims in the audience for the liking of reactionary and racist Americans.

Politicians of both parties have embraced the idea that this country — because of its power and/or the hand of Providence — should be a singular force in the world.

The hand of Providence?  Way to slip some theocratic goodness in there John.

President Pelosi

The great hazard for Obama is if Republicans or journalists conclude — as some already have — that Pelosi’s achievements are more impressive than Obama’s or come at his expense.

Johnny might be onto something here, only in that we expect far more of Obama than he’s delivered.

He’s in love with the man in the mirror

No one becomes president without a fair share of what the French call amour propre. Does Obama have more than his share of self-regard?

Who the hell cares?  When did the Politico turn into People magazine or Slate?  We don’t need witty little insight’s into Obama’s quirks.  What we could really use is investigative journalism.  Uncovering secret negotiations over intellectual property and internet censorship.  Tackling similarities in legal arguments between the Bush and Obama administrations.  Explorations of the impact of the decisions Obama has made, such as finally gutting the global gag rule.  Failing that, let’s at least have journalism.  Address serious political points.  Avoid cutesy little articles masquerading as rhetorical advice.

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