Patterico's Pontifications


Filling in the blanks for Bill Keller

Filed under: General — Karl @ 3:46 pm

[Posted by Karl]

Based on his opinion of the state of the Obama adminsitration, fmr. NYT Executive Editor Bill Keller needs someone to fill in some blanks, primarily between his ears:

The decline in Obama’s political fortunes, the Great Disappointment, can be attributed to four main factors: the intractable legacy bequeathed by George W. Bush; Republican resistance amounting to sabotage; the unrealistic expectations and inevitable disenchantment of some of the president’s supporters; and, to be sure, the man himself.

Keller trots out the already tired trope that Obama inherited the wind from George W. Bush:

Unfunded wars, supply-side deficits, twin housing and banking crises enabled by an orgy of regulatory permissiveness — that was the legacy Obama assumed. In our political culture if you inherit a problem and don’t fix it, you own it. So at some point it became the popular wisdom that Iraq and Afghanistan were “Obama’s wars,” and that the recession had become “Obama’s economy.” Given the systemic burden Bush left for his successor, that judgment seems to me to be less about fair play than about short memories.

In Keller’s telling of “historical truth,” the Democrats’ initial support of those wars disappears, their control of Congress from 2006-08 magically vanishes, and our debt has nothing to do with government spending even the Obama administration admits is unsustainable.  As for the housing and banking crises, the NYT’s own business reporter seems to find responsible an unholy alliance between Wall Street, the Democratic establishment, community organizing groups like ACORN and La Raza, and politicians like Barney Frank, Nancy Pelosi and Henry Cisneros. Moreover, most Americans continue to blame Bush for the economy; Keller is simply delusional on this point.  As I was unable to find any polling on who is to blame for our current wars, I would wager Keller is also indulging his imagination on this point (and one would hope people blame Al Qaeda and the Taliban for the Afghan campaign).

Keller continues:

Another toxic legacy of the Bush years is an angry conservative populism, in which government is viewed as tyranny and compromise as apostasy.

I sort of agree with this, to the extent that the Tea Party grew out of the reaction against the Wall Street bailout.  But “Republican resistance amounting to sabotage”?   During the GHWBush administration, Democrats supported the war on terror, acquiesced in enhanced interrogation of high-value terror suspects and warrantless eavesdropping on terror suspects, and were part of the consensus that Saddam Hussein and his WMD programs posed a grave and growing threat to our national security — only to cynically disavow all of it when the going got tough… and to end up continuing most of Bush’s war policies in the Obama administration, adding targeted assassination of US citrizens and possibly indefinite detention.  Compared to that record, Bill Keller has the unmitigated gall to call the standard GOP opposition to higher taxes, job-killing regulations and unsustainable government spending “amounting to sabotage”? Puh-leeze.

Indeed, Keller’s account of “historical truth” on this point ignores that Obama had a Democratic Congress for two years, including a period where Dems had a filibuster-proof majority in the Senate.  Obama got his stimulus, TARP II, Obamacare and the Dodd-Frank financial regulatory law.  Keller credits for Obama for all of these things later in his column, ignoring that if the GOP is any position to hinder Obama today, it is due to widespread public disappointment with and revulsion against the Obama record.

Keller pooh-poohs liberal disenchantment with Obama. Here again, there is a kernel of truth to Keller’s point.  Progressive ideologues are being unrealistic about what Obama could achieve, given how unpopular his agenda has been.  And there is partisan cynicism in opposing even Obama’s tiny and practically illusory nods toward entitlement reform.  But it is an irony-free observation coming from Keller, who is blaming Obama himself.  And his criticism of Obama is hilarious:

Obama can be faulted for periods of passivity (his silence as Republicans have sought to defund financial reforms), for a naïve deference to Congress (his belated engagement in the details of the health care bill), for a deficit of boldness and passion, for not doing more to stiffen the spines of his caucus on Capitol Hill, for not understanding — at least until his latest barnstorming on the jobs bill — that governing these days is a permanent campaign.

Obama’s successes were arguably due to his leaving the grubby work of vote-counting to the Democratic leadership in Congress, while focusing on buying off stakeholders: health insurers, pharmacos, investment banks, etc.  Keller is now blaming Obama for not being bold mere paragraphs after dismissing his fellow travelers as politically unrealistic.   Moreover, Keller seems to have forgotten all of the town halls, photo-ops, infomercials, press conferences, and the occasional speech to a joint session of Congress in support of the various items on the Obama agenda during the first half of his term.  I can almost forgive Keller for blotting them from his mind, given how unsuccessful they all were in moving public opinion.  But they all happened.  Obama has always understood the permanent campign; indeed, it’s all Obama knows how to do.

Lastly, Keller is perhaps at his worst here:

It’s not just that [Obama] has failed to own his successes. He has in a sense failed to define himself. He is one of our more elusive presidents, not deeply rooted in any place or movement. David Remnick’s biography called Obama a shape-shifter. At the fringes, that makes him vulnerable to conspiratorial slanders: he is a socialist, a foreign imposter, a jihadist, an adherent of black liberation theology.

Well, Obama did attend a church based on black liberation theology for 20 years. Under Bill Keller’s leadership, the New York Times did its best to ignore the story, to avoid the sort of religious vetting that Keller has argued should be standard for presidential candidates.  Barack Obama touted his “blank screen” quality in The Audacity of Hope, yet in 2008, Keller and his fellow travelers in the establishment media did little to fill in the blanks Keller now complains about.  I know teenagers with a better sense of self-responsibility than Bill Keller.


21 Responses to “Filling in the blanks for Bill Keller”

  1. “regulatory permissiveness” … you’ll notice that liberals can never actually point to a de-regulation or new law implemented by Bush that caused any of the crisis … they simply spout nonsense like this and assume everyone just “knows” that Bush did it …

    JeffC (488234)

  2. And now an analysis of Obama’s jobs bill indicates that there are not spending cuts, temporary programs that may or may not increase jobs, and plenty of permanent tax increases–and he has oceanview property in Nebraska he wants to sell us, too.

    rochf (f3fbb0)

  3. Frances Fox Piven thinks life under capitalism is dog-eat-dog–as if life under her world view wouldn’t be anything other than dog-eat-dog times 10.

    rochf (f3fbb0)

  4. The problems that GWB left the country are so huge, so unmanageable, and so intractable, that not even God Himself could deal with them, so how could a mere mortal such as The Lightworker do so?

    When, not if but when, the public refudiates the Progressive Agenda, there will be a mass call from the Coastal Enclaves of the Elite, and from within the Beltway, for psychological therapy; if not wall-to-wall suicide watches.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (7ce0f9)

  5. addendum….

    It couldn’t happen to a more disservicing bunch of maggots.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (7ce0f9)

  6. Keller has a hell of a lot of crust in talking about “saboteurs” since the NYT–on his watch–leaked details about both (a) our ability to intercept Al Qaeda and other terrorist communications; and (b) our ability to track overseas bank accounts of Al Qaeda and the cooperation we’d gotten from foreign banks in doing so. Both of these gross breaches of secrecy occurred early in the War on Terror–and the NYT did so even though the White House and our intelligence agencies pleaded that the stories not be published.

    Keller deserves the “Quisling Prize” for journalism. Republican “saboteurs” my bleeding fat fanny! Which Keller can kiss.

    Comanche Voter (0e06a9)

  7. Right. It’s always “Our ideas are golden, we just need the *right* person to bring them into being” it’s never, “Gee, maybe it IS a bad idea to top down everything” with this yahoos!

    Amy Shulkusky (bb66b1)

  8. these yahoos. yeesh. Anyway, this is just the left *almost* confronting the truth – it’s the guy, not leftism that’s to blame.

    Amy Shulkusky (bb66b1)

  9. “Quisling Prize”

    His reward should be a view of Central Park from one of its highest trees.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (7ce0f9)

  10. So basically Keller trots out three excuses that are simply lies to hide the fact that he’s going to slam Obama for his own folly.


    SPQR (26be8b)

  11. Bill Keller is establishing his street creds now so when the time comes to defend the One True Religion, the saintly NY Times can justifiably administer the coup de grace.

    Barack Obama has to be sacrificed to prevent liberalism’s outworn creed from being exposed for a bankrupt fraud so the cult’s true believers and high priests must undergo ritual purification in preparation for the coming ceremonial bloodletting.

    ropelight (aecd31)

  12. So if Obozo can’t do anything with a Republican controlled House since 2010 and is blameless for all failures since 2008 then is George Bush also without blame since 2004 because in 2006 the House and Senate went Democratic?

    Bob Turner (8d652e)

  13. Yes, it is never the message is faulty, but always the failings of the messenger.
    Not the right people, not enough money, bitter-clingers, Neanderthals, etc.

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (7ce0f9)

  14. Bob: Bush can never be excused because he is, after all, a Republican Conservative (Compassionate version), and is therefore EVIL!

    Another Drew - Restore the Republic / Obama Sucks! (7ce0f9)

  15. Why is calling Obama a socialist included in the list of conspiratorial slanders? The people who I know who believe that aren’t part of a conspiracy, but sick of his “tax the rich”/”rich people sitting around counting their money” rhetoric and policy proposals.

    But how funny for Keller to call the word “socialist” a slander in the same piece where he says conservative populists view government as tyranny.

    MayBee (081489)

  16. Those conservative anarchists who think government is tyrannical are slandering Obama by calling him a socialist.

    MayBee (081489)

  17. “Unfunded wars”

    Complete hogwash, as is everything else out of Keller’s mouth.

    Defense spending is much, much lower then it ever was in the heyday of the loathsome Dems.

    Under the great liberal genius Roosevelt, defense spending rose as high as 42% of GDP.

    Under Bush II it was never higher than 5% of GDP, and the lowest it EVER was (since the Dems screwed everything up in the 1940s) was around 3.6% right before 2001. Typical annual defense spending during the Iraq and Afghanistan campaigns was about 4.5% or so, which means the campaigns cost pretty close to nothing.

    According to leftards, THEIR massive wars can be afforded, but wars, when Republican presidents are c-in-c, that cost many, many times less can’t.

    Baloney. We’re going broke because of the massive government increases in domestic spending over a period of decades, not because of a couple of mickey mouse campaigns agaisnt a bunch of loser Muslims which haven’t cost a drop in the bucket compared to what the lying Dems spent in their world wars, Korea and Vietnam.

    Keller is an idiot…and so is every other leftard on the planet.

    Dave Surls (be1956)

  18. Keller obviously forgot the post-2008 election celebratory cover of Newsweek proclaiming We’re All Socialists Now!

    in_awe (44fed5)

  19. 70 years of bad harvests.

    daleyrocks (bf33e9)

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