You know the rap on low-information voters: they don't feel it's worth their while to follow politics closely, or they simply don't have time, and so, among other things, they're easily manipulated by Republicans, who can create crises (debt ceiling brinkmanship, for instance) or block attempts to solve existing crises (persistent unemployment, for instance), secure in the knowledge that low-info voters will simply blame the president, since they're not really familiar with a lot of other people in government.
I'm struggling to detect an effective difference between these low-info voters and certain members of the Beltway press corps.
President Obama held a press conference this morning, in which, among other things, he was asked:
... do you still have the juice to get the rest of your agenda through this Congress?He said:
... you seem to suggest that somehow, these folks over there have no responsibilities and that my job is to somehow get them to behave. That’s their job. They are elected, members of Congress are elected in order to do what's right for their constituencies and for the American people.But this is not being covered as if there is anything wrong with the people the president is dealing with. Dylan Byers of Politico headlined not one but two posts "Obama the Helpless." National Journal's Ron Fournier, apparently angling for a job at a future Koch-owned newspaper, wrote,
Obama channeled [Bill] Clinton's April 18, 1995, news conference by projecting a sense of helplessness--or even haplessness--against forces seemingly out of a president's control.And so on. In other words, this isn't about whether there's something wrong with anyone else in D.C. -- it's all about the president. Congress exists only as one of the things pathetic, helpless Obama can't do anything about.
The American Prospect's Jamelle Bouie writes:
... congressional Republicans have agency, and at a certain point, they need to be held accountability for their actions. It's not on Obama that Republicans refused to expand background checks. To treat it as if it were obscures the realities of policymaking and helps Republicans evade responsibility for their choices.But the rest of the press is having none of this.
At a certain point, I don't see how the press's refusal to focus on anything but the president is effectively different from low-information voters' tendency to focus on the president because they don't know any better. Maybe Beltway journos don't know any better either. They know Congress exists -- they just don't seem to grasp, literally don't seem to know, that it consists of people who actually have a sworn duty to the country to try to solve problems.