Looking back at the Senate's failure last week to pass gun safety legislation in the wake of the school massacre in Newtown, CT., Slate's John Dickerson writes that the bill fell victim to "the structure of the Senate, its partisan makeup, and pressure from gun rights advocates."
I guess that's one way of putting it. Another way of putting it is that Republicans continued to adhere to their unprecedented, four-year campaign of obstructionism and blocked a bill, whose central proposal, expanded background checks, enjoyed a stunning 90 percent support from the American public. But that's not the story Beltway pundits and reporters want to tell.
Instead, with the political postmortems continuing to come in, it's clear the press remains committed to blaming Obama and Democrats for the failure of gun legislation. It's clear the press will not budget from its preferred storyline that as long as Republicans obstruct Obama's agenda, the president will be faulted for not changing the GOP's unprecedented behavior.
And yes, in recent days the level of purposeful obtuseness has reached astonishing heights. In the wake of the bitter gun bill defeat, the DC press wants to tell one story, and one story only: Obama blew it. And they're so committed to the crooked narrative that they're now willing to completely write Republicans out of the story.
How committed? Slate's Dickerson wrote a 1,000-word piece about the gun bill and never once typed the word "Republican." (Or "GOP.") For Dickerson, Republicans weren't players in the gun bill saga, and they certainly weren't the reason it failed to pass. Instead, it failed because of the "president's limitations as a negotiator." And why was that? Because Obama "couldn't master the art of politics," Dickerson wrote.
New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd agreed, claiming the bill's defeat represented a "glaring example" of Obama's weakness. She ridiculed the president for not having "learned how to govern."
And an April 23 front-page New York Times report offered the similar refrain:
If he cannot translate the support of 90 percent of the public for background checks into a victory on Capitol Hill, what can he expect to accomplish legislatively for his remaining three and a half years in office.
The fact is that a majority of Republicans blocked the bill, and blocked even allowing debate on the gun safety bill. But that is now deemed to be irrelevant. Obama's supposed personal and professional shortcomings last week are the real story.
Is the president fair game for criticism and second-guessing in the wake of the gun bill's failure? Of course. Is Obama the only reason the gun bill didn't pass? He is not. But boy, the pundit class and elite reporters sure like to pretend he is.
CBS chief political correspondent John Dickerson disputed President Obama's description of Mitt Romney's tax plan as a "$5 trillion tax cut" because one of Romney's advisers suggested he would reduce the size of his proposed tax cuts if he could not pay for them. But Dickerson is ignoring the fact that Romney running mate Paul Ryan suggested last week that Romney would not reduce the size of his tax cuts because lowering taxes is his highest priority.
During a panel discussion on the presidential debate on Face The Nation, Dickerson said that it was unfair to accuse Romney of being dishonest about his tax plan. Dickerson explained that a top Romney economic adviser "said we have two goals here. One is deficit reduction, the other is reducing marginal rates. If those come in conflict our primary goal is deficit reduction and the marginal rates might not go down as much."
That stands in direct contrast to remarks by Paul Ryan, who was asked specifically if Mitt Romney would "scale back on the 20 percent tax cut for the wealthy" if the cuts could not be paid for and replied "No, no.".
Chris Wallace asked Ryan in that September 30 Fox News Sunday interview "what's most important to [Romney] in his tax reform plan?" Ryan replied, "keeping tax rates down. By lowering tax rates, people keep more of the next dollar that they earn. That matters. That is incentives." He added, "That's more important than anything."
On PBS' Washington Week, John Dickerson asserted that there will "perhaps [be] a tax increase to fix the alternative minimum tax," which he claimed "gets the Republicans very exercised and excited" because they "can go around talking about how Democrats are going to raise taxes." In fact, Rep. Charlie Rangel (D-NY) has authored a proposal that would, according to the accompanying press release, "provide tax relief to more than 90 million working families through a permanent repeal of the individual alternative minimum tax (AMT) and enhancement of other tax benefits." The press release also stated that Rangel's plan is "entirely revenue-neutral."
Although Rev. Ted Haggard was the pastor of a 14,000-member church and president of "the largest evangelical group in America," as well as a regular member of weekly conference calls with the Bush administration, National Public Radio's Mara Liasson, Slate's John Dickerson, and Time's Ana Marie Cox all downplayed the political impact of recent allegations that he solicited sex and drugs from a male prostitute.