RUSH: From Walter Russell Mead in the American Interest. “Kevin Drum at Mother Jones –” these are the same people helping the occupiers. No, that was Rolling Stone. Sorry. I don’t know if Mother Jones is involved in helping or not. It was Matt Taibbi and Dylan Ratigan at MSNBC who are helping the occupiers shape and form their message. Anyway, “Kevin Drum at Mother Jones has a chart showing that in the last five months President Obama was hammered by the mainstream press harder than any of his GOP rivals; there was a 25 point gap between the percentage of his coverage that was positive and the negative stories. These charts and other methods to referee the press are generally lame; assessing press coverage inevitably involved tricky qualitative questions.”
But even so, even so without all the charts, Mr. Mead here suggests that Kevin Drum’s right, “the media has soured on President Obama in recent months.” We’ve documented that here ourselves. And we know why. Ideology trumps individuals. “The liberal press in particular hated his approach to the budget negotiations; many journalists were more interested in writing about possible infringements of American civil rights than in celebrating the competence and judgment involved in the Yemen drone strikes. The Carterization meme, that President Obama is out of touch and dithering rather than Olympian and visionary, has taken hold. Words that could not be mentioned in polite company in 2008 like ‘inexperienced’ and ‘aloof’ fill the air. The truth that President Obama is more McGeorge Bundy than Mother Teresa has begun to sink in.
“The problem is not, as Drum seems to imply, that the mainstream press is full of closet Republicans who canÂ’t wait to turn on Obama the moment they sense weakness. It is more that many in the press are convinced that Blue Liberal ideas and policies could solve all our problems if forcefully advocated and consistently applied. When a Democrat gets into the White House and things arenÂ’t going well, liberals are much more likely to blame the incompetence of the officeholder than the shortcomings of the ideology. If he had tried harder, spoken more forcefully, negotiated less fecklessly, everything would be fine.” Just the same way the communists look at it. It wasn’t that communism was a problem. It was that idiot Gorbachev. It wasn’t that Roosevelt was the problem. He didn’t spend enough money soon enough.
“What you will not hear often in the torrent of liberal criticism now enveloping the White House, is that regardless of their intrinsic merit in a country in which self described liberals are a tiny minority (less than a fifth), liberal ideas donÂ’t work very well as a governing platform. A Congress seen as too liberal wonÂ’t get re-elected; a President seen as too liberal loses political authority and is steadily pushed to the right. The mainstream media tone on Obama has lightened up since he decided to rebrand himself as a mild populist and Â‘get toughÂ’ with the GOP.
“If the poll numbers go up, we will hear much about the revived Obama presidency. If they go down, the press will blame Obama for flawed execution, not the idea that populism could save his presidency. … Efforts to measure bias are tricky, and none of them ever impressed me. But if you want to predict how the tone of President ObamaÂ’s coverage will change, watch his success or lack of it at translating standard liberal ideas into law and policy. The more he succeeds, the more he will be seen as Â‘historicÂ’, Â‘visionaryÂ’ and, magic word of hope and wonder, Â‘transformationalÂ’. The progress will be hailed, the direction for the most part not questioned.”
So it’s all about the ideology. It’s exactly as my instincts have told me and as I have imparted to you. It’s all about the ideology. They’re turning on Obama because he’s failing in their minds to make liberalism work. So what I’ve said is Obama’s problem with the media and the left, poll numbers, pure and simple. He’s getting a lot of stuff. All the stimulus bills, all the wreckage of the private sector, Obamacare. But he’s not popular, and that they hate. They think this stuff is magical. Save the world kind of stuff. And whoever does it right and implements it ought to be loved and adored. And if he isn’t, that’s his problem, not the policies’ faults, not the failings of the ideology.