Obama, the press, and the "bipartisan" trap, cont'd

Blog ››› ››› ERIC BOEHLERT

Notice the interesting shift that took place in the Beltway reporting after word broke that a tentative deal was reached to pass his stimulus package. Now that the bill will likely pass the press has changed gears.

While acknowledging that yes, Obama's centerpiece initiative will become law, some in the press now stress it wont' pass the right way. Lots of Republicans aren't going to vote for it, therefore Obama has failed. It's a completely new standard the press is using to judge a new president. Nonetheless, the yes/but meme is everywhere. Like in this weekend's NYT [emphasis added] .

With the Senate on track to pass its version of the economic stimulus legislation, President Obama is widely expected to win final Congressional approval of the plan soon, and thus make good on an assortment of his campaign promises. But in the process, he is confronting the impediments to his most ambitious pledge: to end the capital's partisan warfare.

Obama has been president less than 21 days, but the Times is anxious to note that he's failed to end two decades worth of partisan sniping. In less than three weeks Obama has not completely transformed the Beltway culture. That's a fair standard to judge him by, right?

Also, did Obama really campaign on the promise that he alone would "end" partisan warfare. If the Times' Jackie Calmes can point to the campaign quotes Obama made, than I'll believe it. (And if he said he'd end partisan warfare in 21 days, I'll donate money to Calmes' favorite charity.) But I'm pretty sure Obama said the country needed to end partisan warfare, that it must be done, and that he'd do everything he could to end it. But that he, singled-handedly, would accomplish the goal? I must have missed those claims.

Also, note that the emphasis of the Times article was what the lack of bipartisan success said about Obama. How he would react, did it highlight deficiencies in his leadership, etc. As for Republicans and what the lack of bipartisanship meant, the Times, and the rest of the press, couldn't care less. The onus for cooperation is on Obama. Period.

It's called the bipartisan trap.

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