Patterico's Pontifications


Politico: Obama White House Solicited HuffPo Iran Question

Filed under: Media Bias,Obama — DRJ @ 2:50 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

This Politico report indicates how the Obama Administration is using the media to handle its Iran problem:

“In what appeared to be a coordinated exchange, President Obama called on the Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney near the start of his press conference and requested a question directly about Iran.”
UPDATE 2: [CBS Radio’s Mark Knoller, a veteran White House correspondent], again via Twitter: “Huffington Post’s Nico Pitney says the WH called him this morning and invited him to ask his Iran questions at the news conference.”

Read the link to see what Politico means by a “coordinated exchange”: Obama’s invitation and the initial part of Pitney’s question appear scripted.


Media Quote of the Day

Filed under: Media Bias — DRJ @ 2:39 pm

[Guest post by DRJ]

Today’s quote is from Kelly McBride, a journalism ethics teacher at the Poynter Institute, as she responded to the revelation that the New York Times and 39 other media organizations conspired to prevent reports about the kidnapping in Afghanistan of Times‘ reporter David Rohde:

“I find it a little disturbing, because it makes me wonder what else 40 international news organizations have agreed not to tell the public.”

The New York Times explained its decision after Rohde’s escape:

“From the early days of this ordeal, the prevailing view among David’s family, experts in kidnapping cases, officials of several governments and others we consulted was that going public could increase the danger to David and the other hostages. The kidnappers initially said as much.”

I’m happy for Rohde and his family, and it’s commendable that the New York Times wants to protect its employees. What a shame that the Times didn’t feel the same concern for the American people when it published the details of the secret CIA-Treasury program that tracked financial records in search of terrorist suspects.


The Definitive Takedown of Andrew Sullivan?

Filed under: General — Karl @ 10:56 am

[Posted by Karl]

The fair use doctrine constrains me to quote only the introduction of “Through the Looking Glass With Andrew Sullivan,” by Christopher Badeaux at The New Ledger:

Perhaps the single, common life goal of every intellectual, pseudo-intellectual, and intellectual aspirant, is to be a true Renaissance man — a genius whose force of will and flexible, dominating intellect allows him to master or nearly master not one or two, but a whole host of related and unrelated fields of study and practice.

Sadly, not everyone can be Leonardo da Vinci or Karol Wojtyla. Or Andrew Sullivan.

Sullivan, who has worn dozens of hats in his lifetime, is truly unique. He stands astride the worlds of politics, journalism, theology, foreign policy, and applied obstetrics like the Colossus of Rhodes. A former editor for The New Republic — a publication that benefited from his razor-sharp insights on, among other things, the early masterpieces of Stephen Glass — columnist-about-town for Time, the Atlantic, and various Fleet Street rags; a Ph.D in the works of Michael Oakeshott, recognized by true conservatives everywhere as the only conservative thinker of the last four hundred years; and an itinerant blogger whose once-eponymous site has migrated to Time and now the Atlantic, Sullivan is one of those Washington fixtures that fit unusually well on the late-night talk show circuit, as he himself likes to demonstrate. Like a real-life, hyper-garrulous Forrest Gump, Sullivan has been present for, or at least has shared his thoughts — stray, organized, rational, and delusional — on most of the major events of the last twenty five years, at a rate that has only increased since he began blogging (before it was cool) and taking long vacations after pledge drives (which has been cool forever). More impressive than his output is his utter lack of fear of self-contradiction, flights of laughter-inducing hyperbole, public obsessiveness, repeated self-contradiction, betrayals of utter ignorance, and failed attempts to mimic the Bard by coining bizarre neologisms to match his wandering moods.

Few among us have the raw intellectual firepower to go where he has. Fortunately, the internet tubes allow us to track his movements over time – an otherwise dizzying effort made more vertiginous by Sullivan’s kaleidoscopic mind. As with all things Sullivan, the best place to start is with human genitalia…

Allahpundit asks whether this is the definitive Sullivan takedown.  As good as it is, I do not think the definitive takedown has been compiled yet.  A truly comprehensive piece would also have to draw on The Village Voice piece by Richard Goldstein, detailing how unhinged Sullivan was, even before 9/11.  Also, inasmuch as Badeaux notes that Sullivan’s archives have become difficult to search as he moves from site to site, a definitive piece would scour them and quote at length from pieces like this one from October 2001:

THE COMING CONFLICT: The sophisticated form of anthrax delivered to Tom Daschle’s office forces us to ask a simple question. What are these people trying to do? I think they’re testing the waters. They want to know how we will respond to what is still a minor biological threat, as a softener to a major biological threat in the coming weeks. They must be encouraged by the panic-mongering of the tabloids, Hollywood and hoaxsters. They must also be encouraged by the fact that some elements in the administration already seem to be saying we need to keep our coalition together rather than destroy the many-headed enemy. So the terrorists are pondering their next move. The chilling aspect of the news in the New York Times today is that the terrorists clearly have access to the kind of anthrax that could be used against large numbers of civilians. My hopes yesterday that this was a minor attack seem absurdly naﶥ in retrospect. So they are warning us and testing us. At this point, it seems to me that a refusal to extend the war to Iraq is not even an option. We have to extend it to Iraq. It is by far the most likely source of this weapon; it is clearly willing to use such weapons in the future; and no war against terrorism of this kind can be won without dealing decisively with the Iraqi threat. We no longer have any choice in the matter. Slowly, incrementally, a Rubicon has been crossed. The terrorists have launched a biological weapon against the United States. They have therefore made biological warfare thinkable and thus repeatable. We once had a doctrine that such a Rubicon would be answered with a nuclear response. We backed down on that threat in the Gulf War but Saddam didn’t dare use biological weapons then. Someone has dared to use them now. Our response must be as grave as this new threat. I know that this means that this conflict is deepening and widening beyond its initial phony stage. But what choice do we have? Inaction in the face of biological warfare is an invitation for more in a world where that is now thinkable. Appropriate response will no doubt inflame an already inflamed region, as people seek solace through the usual ideological fire. Either way the war will grow and I feel nothing but dread in my heart. But we didn’t seek this conflict. It has sought us. If we do not wage war now, we may have to wage an even bloodier war in the very near future. These are bleak choices, but what else do we have?

A post like that could be compared with Sullivan’s blase observation in August 2008: “John Judis wants a Congressional investigation into the source of the rumors that the anthrax attacks in 2001 originated in Iraq. ”  Judis should asked Sullivan!

Furthermore, while Badeaux addresses Sullivan’s Trig Trutherism in delicious detail, a truly definitive piece would address all of the bizarre conspiracy theories Sullivan has floated in recent years, complete with sinister allusions to “the Likud effect.”

Badeaux’s piece may not be definitive, but that does not render it any less devastating on the subjects it does cover, both in substance and tone, so RTWT, natch.


Pres. Obama’s Poll Position and 2010

Filed under: General — Karl @ 8:01 am

[Posted by Karl]

The Politico, like CQ and other media outlets, is noticing the erosion in Pres. Obama’s poll numbers:

Eroding confidence in President Barack Obama’s handling of the economy and ability to control spending has caused his approval ratings to wilt to their lowest levels since he took office, according to a spate of recent polls, a sign of political weakness that comes just as he most needs leverage on Capitol Hill.


Surveys released last week by Pew, NBC News/Wall Street Journal and The New York Times/CBS News show a similar pattern. The Pew survey, for example, registered an 8-percentage-point drop in public approval for Obama’s handling of the economy — falling from 60 percent to 52 percent between mid-April and June. The percentage of Americans who disapprove jumped by 7 percentage points during the same period.

Though Democrats are still generally more supportive of the administration overall, the slide in the president’s economic numbers defied partisan boundaries. The Pew survey, for instance, showed support for Obama’s handling of the economy sliding 6 percentage points among Democrats and independents.

The same trend appears in the latest ABCNews poll, which shows “a retrenchment in the expectation that his stimulus plan will improve the economy — and, consequently, a halt in what had been steadily improving views of the nation’s direction.” ABCNews polled adults. The latest Rasmussen poll finds that 39% of likely voters say our economic problems are caused more by Obama’s policies than those of fmr. Pres. Bush, a 12-point jump from a month ago. Independents split almost evenly on that question.

Most of the analyses of Obama’s current poll numbers also note Pres. Obama’s continued overall popularity, as does Ed Morrissey:

Conservatives shouldn’t get too excited about Obama’s numbers. He remains a likable figure, with personal polling remaining high. Ronald Reagan had high personal numbers, too, and he leveraged his popularity to win political battles many predicted he’d lose.

The bit about Reagan is a myth, part of The Narrative of the Eighties, in which the Left convinced itself that Reagan was all about charisma, instead of ideology or policy. In his first term, Reagan’s job performance and policies were often rated more highly than Reagan personally.

Ed is more on target in noting the impact that rising unemployment will have on Obama’s popularity and the Democrats’ prospects for the 2010 midetrm elections. As ABCNews notes:

Obama’s vulnerability on the economy remains — exemplified by Reagan, the last president to take office in the teeth of a recession. His approval fell from a peak of 73 percent in March 1981 to 48 percent as the economy still struggled 11 months later. And today, public ratings of current economic conditions are just a few points from their record low in 23 years of weekly tracking by ABC News.

Open Lefty blogger Chris Bowers recently noted that in early June 1981, Reagan had an approval rating similar to Obama’s current approval. Bowers then plotted Reagan’s disapproval ratings against the unemployment statistics in 1981-82, complete with charts and graphs (Jay Cost has a graph for the entire Reagan presidency that underscores the point). Given how closely those numbers track, Bowers concluded:

Ideally for Democrats, unemployment would start to decline by February of 2010, which would provide enough time before the elections to recoup whatever losses they would suffer between now and peak unemployment. However, few economists seem to be predicting such an early unemployment peak, so that is a longshot.

Since Bowers wrote that, the Congressional Budget Office has projected that the unemployment rate will continue to rise into the second half of next year. Unemployment is not the whole ball game electorally; some studies show personal income is the key factor. However, the US economy was on the upswing in 1982, 1992 and 1994 — and in each case, the party of the president was punished at the polls, as the public did not see conditions improving fast enough. Unemployment may be a lagging indicator, but forecasts pushing the peak further into the future are suggesting any recovery next year will be less than robust.

In short, based on the current projections, it is small wonder some in the Obama White House are sad they don’t have George W. Bush to kick around anymore.


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