Attention, pundits: Please justify your assertions

Blog ››› ››› JAMISON FOSER

Digby highlights this passage from ABC's The Note:

[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.

Amy Walter
The Note
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