Thursday, May 23, 2013


I assume most Americans get their news from some combination of mainstream and right-wing sources -- Chuck Todd and Bill O'Reilly, David Gregory and Sean Hannity. And that's one reason the IRS story really might not stick to President Obama.

The mainstream media has told us for a couple of years now that Obama could get a grand bargain on the budget and get Gitmo closed and get lions to lie down with lambs and get all sorts of other wonderful things to happen if he'd just lead harder! Meanwhile, the right-wing media says (at least part of the time) that Obama's a golf-obsessed, endlessly vacationing lightweight who wouldn't be much of a president if he actually did work hard enough because he too damn stupid to think or talk without the aid of a teleprompter.

I assume the average American processes these two narratives, blends in a third narrative that includes positive stories about Obama, as well as his more engaging public appearances and statements, and the resulting stew comes out as: Obama -- nice guy, not really able to deliver the goods. Some are more positive, others more negative, and people in the middle may be disgruntled but think his heart is more or less in the right place. Still, no one really thinks he's kicking ass and taking names.

Which is what makes the argument of this Mitch McConnell op-ed in The Washington Post a tough sell. McConnell is trying to tell us Obama is kicking ass and literally taking names:
The IRS scandal and Obama's culture of intimidation

... there is ample evidence to suggest that the culture of intimidation in which these tactics were allowed to flourish goes well beyond one agency or a few rogue employees.

For years, administration officials have used the power of the federal government to isolate their opponents....

The spread of the speech police under the Obama administration has long been apparent.... the administration has been extremely creative in employing throughout the federal government the sorts of intimidation tactics that were used at the IRS....
Even if you're a casual observer of politics, I don't know how you can process the notion that Obama's opponents are intimidated and isolated and crushed by speech police. They're on Fox every night. They're on pretty much every commercial AM radio station in America 24 hours a day. They run the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court, and have de facto control of the Senate. Whether you blame Obama's enemies for this or think his failure to lead harder! is the problem, how can you possibly imagine there's an Obama "culture of intimidation," unless you're a chronically self-pitying right-winger?

And then there's this, from McConnell's House counterpart:
Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) on Wednesday said he believed it was "inconceivable" that President Obama did not learn sooner about the Internal Revenue Service's political targeting of Tea Party groups.

"It's pretty inconceivable to me that the president wouldn’t know," Boehner told Fox News's Greta Van Susteren. "I'm just putting myself in his shoes. I deal with my senior staff every day. And if the White House had known about this, which now it appears they've known about it for about a year, it's hard to imagine it wouldn't have come up in some conversation."...
John, you're talking to people who've watched five years of golf and teleprompter jokes on the very channel that's interviewing you. The audience you're talking to keeps being told he's an empty suit. And, a couple of channels over on the "mainstream" news, Americans are told Obama's not presidenting hard enough. So this idea of him contradicts pretty much everything they've been told. So good luck selling it, John and Mitch.


BH said...

Chuck Todd squealing about attacks on journalism is roughly as plausible as Newt Gingrich promoting humility. Both outside their areas of expertise.

Victor said...

I'd be on it being a relatively even split over the years, between "Obama's a ruthless tyrant, jamming __________________ down people's throats," and "Obama's a feckless leader and a lazy p*ssie, who'd rather golf than lead and meet with Republican leaders, and work out a deal."

Unfortunately, yesterday, I bet money that today would be an "Obama's a ruthless Tyrant!" day.

Can anyone lend me a couple of hundred bucks?

My bookie really does have a"culture of intimidation!"

Jimmi the Grey said...

You forgeg that there are two Mr Obamas. The first is the one that we see give pretty speaches and play golf all while not leading hard enough and the second is the invisible one who can only be seen by his chair and the older gentleman grouching at it...that's the facsist dictator one.

Knight of Nothing said...

@Jimmi the Grey - sounds like the making of an old SNL skit...

Ten Bears said...

Still don't think they're imploding, Steve? This keeps up and the O will run for a third term unopposed.

No fear.