Media personalities rushed to scandalize President Obama for saluting Marines while simultaneously holding a coffee cup, criticizing the move as disrespectful -- forgetting former President George W. Bush's habit of saluting service members while holding his dog.
[A]s ABC Political Director Amy Walter reports, one senior GOP strategist offers an interesting theory: John McCain and Barack Obama are the true "parents" of the Tea Party. ... Why Obama? By pursuing an agenda that has that has been criticized by the right as an overreach of authority, he's given a chorus of anti-government voices greater credibility.
Now, I know, this "theory" comes from a GOP strategist, not Walter and her ABC colleagues. But they call it "interesting" and don't contradict it in any way, so they are, in effect, endorsing it -- at least as a plausible claim.
I see this kind of assertion all the time -- if Democrat X hadn't done Y, Republicans wouldn't have attacked him or her. And it almost always strikes me as hopelessly naive. It seems pretty clear to me that President Obama, like the Clintons and Al Gore and countless others before him, is going to be relentlessly, ruthlessly, and dishonestly attacked by the Right no matter what he does. And not only naive, but shallow as well -- these assertions rarely seem to be accompanied by explanations of what could have been done and why it would have played out differently.
But maybe I just lack imagination. Maybe there's some miraculous approach Obama could have taken that would cause the kinds of people who accuse him of being a secret Kenyan (and who accused Bill Clinton of murder) to roll over and purr like kittens.
So here's my challenge to the pundits who peddle this line of thinking, starting with The Note: Let's hear your explanations of what, specifically, Barack Obama could have done as president that would have prevented the right from accusing him of "an overreach of authority." And I'll make it easy on you: You don't have to limit yourselves to things Barack Obama would plausibly do. If you want to argue that attempting to implement the 2008 Republican platform would have prevented such attacks, have at it. It'll only demonstrate the emptiness of the blame-Obama approach -- at it'll likely be nonsense anyway, as Republicans and conservatives have spent much of the past two years denouncing policies they previously supported.
Several media outlets have asserted that AIG's payment of controversial employee-retention bonus packages could squelch or impede President Obama's ability to promote his policy agenda. Most of those reporting the claim failed to elaborate on how disclosure of the bonuses could impede Obama's ability to pass aspects of his agenda such as health-care reform and climate change policy.
ABC News' Jonathan Karl uncritically quoted Sen. John Cornyn's assertion that "[o]ne can't help but wonder why Senator [Chuck] Schumer believes Al Franken should be seated without an election certificate signed by both the Secretary of State and Governor, as Minnesota law requires." In fact, Schumer has not advocated bypassing legal requirements; he reportedly said that "it is now clear that Al Franken won the election," but added that "there are still possible legal issues that will run their course."
In a post on ABCNews.com's The Note, Rick Klein asserted that "the emerging lineup of Democratic rogues is starting to stack up against" several Republicans accused of corruption and scandal, but in the slate of people he listed, he omitted numerous examples of high-profile Republicans embroiled in criminal or ethical scandals, such as Rep. Don Young, Sen. Ted Stevens, and Rep. Rick Renzi.
Disregarding U.S. attorney Patrick Fitzgerald's warning to "not cast aspersions on people for being named or being discussed" in the criminal complaint against Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich, several in the media have used the scandal as an opportunity to engage in suggestions of guilt-by-association against President-elect Barack Obama, by rehashing Obama's purportedly "questionable associations," or suggesting that Obama is a product of corrupt "Chicago politics."
The Washington Times' Wesley Pruden made several false claims about remarks Sen. Barack Obama made in a 2001 interview on a Chicago public radio station. ABCNews.com's The Note listed Pruden's column among the day's "Must Reads."
In its list of "Must-Reads," ABCNews.com's The Note included a Washington Times "commentary" from W.F. Walker Johanson, in which he wrote that Sen. Barack Obama is a "true wolf in sheep's clothing" and "resembles an anti-American Marxist who believes," for example, that "[m]urdering innocent babies -- through abortion -- is an inalienable 'right.' "
ABC News' The Note claimed that Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, in favoring legislation calling for troop withdrawal timelines, "virtually ensured the return of polarized Iraq politics -- and is giving the left the showdown (take two) it craves." But polling repeatedly shows that a significant majority of the country supports withdrawing U.S. troops from Iraq in -- at most -- a timeframe that comports with what Reid has suggested.
Media figures and outlets heaped praise on Mike Huckabee's comment, during the May 15 Republican presidential debate, that "[w]e've had a Congress that's spent money like John Edwards at a beauty shop," a reference to reports that former Sen. John Edwards spent $800 of campaign money (which Edwards said was reimbursed) on two haircuts. ABC News' The Note, as well as The Politico's Mike Allen called the line an "instant classic," while The Politico's Jonathan Martin predicted that it "will dominate the news coverage in the days ahead."
In ABC's The Note, senior political reporter Rick Klein wrote that "Democrats will still need to move toward the Republican position, unless they want to shut down [Iraq] war funding." In doing so, Klein suggested that unless congressional Democrats compromise and send President Bush a bill he finds acceptable, they will be responsible for cutting off funding to the troops, rather than Bush being responsible.