April 30, 2013

Headline Change at Thrush’s Politico Pity Party: From ‘Obama: Hey Guys, I’m Still Here’ to ‘Obama: Hey guys, I’m Still Relevant’

The email announcing the supposedly momentous occasion of another column by the Politico’s Glenn Thrush arrived in my mailbox with the following headline and subhead: “Obama: Hey guys, I’m still here — The president’s press conference brimmed with frustration and was filled with tantalizing promise.”

On clickthrough, I learned that the online website’s massagers-in-chief changed those items (but not the underlying URL, which reflects the email) to the following in the published article: “President Obama: I’m still relevant — Obama finds himself hemmed in by the familiar constraints of partisanship and world events.” Thrush’s text identifed another problem supposedly hemming Obama in, complete with a slavery analogy: “the shackles of his own commitments.” Poor guy; he has to deal with the world as it is, not how he’d like it to be, and those darned things he promised to do to get elected and reelected. Gosh, life is just so unfair, isn’t it? Excerpts following Thrush’s theme follow the jump (bolds and numbered tags are mine):

If ever 47 minutes illustrated the frustration, tantalizing promise [1] and ambivalence of a second term, this was it.

President Barack Obama, marking the 100th day since he delivered an ambitious inaugural address brimming with expansive plans, sparred with the White House press over a succession of issues over which he has conspicuously clipped control [2] — from his response to the “game-changer” revelation that Syrian government forces used sarin gas, to the failure of his gun control push, to his continued efforts to shutter the Guantanamo Bay detention facility over the objections of Congressional Republicans and Democrats.

… Obama, who seemed a lot less lighthearted than during his sharp-elbowed stand-up routine at the White House Correspondents Association dinner on Saturday.

Obama isn’t close to being powerless, five months after a convincing second-term victory [3] that left Republicans in a state of agitated soul-searching. His approval rating remains above 50 percent most weeks in most polls, he’s far and away the most trusted figure in Washington, and on the majority of big issues — from background checks to the debt ceiling — he has public opinion firmly on his side. [4]

Yet he finds himself hemmed in by the familiar constraints of partisanship, world events and the shackles of his own commitments.

When it comes to Syria, Obama seems intent on not repeating the mistakes of George W. Bush in Iraq [5] — even as his critics accuse him of replicating the errors of Bill Clinton in Rwanda.

Obama has said that the use of chemical weapons would cross a “red line” and be a “game-changer” but he downplayed that rhetoric Tuesday [6], saying only that the discovery would force him to “rethink the range of options that are available to us.”

… Obama defended his decision to support a bill that ends furloughs for FAA employees while other sequester cuts continue to persist. It’s a rare instance in which members of Congress have thought about the needs of their constituents and the American people, he said. [7]

Though critics said Obama was “crying wolf, he’s Chicken Little” in warning of the potential damage done by sequestration, the president insisted that the effects of the cuts have been in line with the administration’s warnings. [8]

Notes:

[1] — “Promise” is based on promises, so the question is: “What promises?” As Stephen Green at PJ Tatler wrote on Monday: “His platform, boiled down, was ‘Mitt Romney is evil and I’ll raise taxes on the rich.’ … He doesn’t have the clout to do anything else, because he never mobilized the electorate to push for anything else.” So you see, Glenn Thrush, there is no “promise” left.

[2] — Presidents always have “conspicuously clipped control.” So what else is new?

[3] — Obama won 51.06% of the vote and achieved a 3.85% margin over the worst GOP presidential candidate in my lifetime. He also received 3.5 million fewer votes than in 2008. That’s hardly “convincing,” especially to Nancy Pelosi, who still goes by the title of “House Minority Leader.”

[4] — Only a koolaid-drinking Beltway hack could think that Obama has public opinion “firmly on his side” — not just on his side, but “firmly on his side” — in the gun-control and debt ceiling debates. So what explains the defections of so many Democrats at crunch time on gun control and the FAA cave-in on sequestration, Glenn?

[5] — The American military under George W. Bush won the war in Iraq. That is not even remotely arguable. Obama is working on snatching defeat from the jaws of that victory, and leaving Afghanistan at the tender mercies of the Taliban. If either of those end up being losses, they’re on Obama. Period.

[6] — Charles Krauthammer was right last Thursday when he said: “What’s at stake here is whether anything that this president now says is believable around the world.” Obama’s rhetorical downplay has provided the answer, and it is “no.”

[7] — Thrush apparently considers the need of the American people to know that they won’t be facing crushing and unsustainable debt which will unconscionably burden generations yet unborn unimportant or irrelevant. Fortunately, many (but not enough) members of Congress disagree with him.

[8] — Let’s see. President Obama warned that seqestration, if implemented, would, in the words of an Associated Press report, put “the jobs of essential government workers, from teachers to emergency responders, are on the line.” It hasn’t happened. A great deal of the pain (e.g., the cancelled White House tours, conducted mostly by volunteers, which saves the government about $18,000 per week, while First Lady Michelle Obama still has the nerve to call it “the People’s House”) has been deliberately contrived to maximize political impact. That effort appears to have largely backfired.

If Obama’s influence isn’t what he’s like it to be, Glenn Thrush, the place he should be looking to assign blame isn’t in externalities. It’s in the mirror.

Cross-posted at NewsBusters.org.

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