The Beltway media is an epic failure – Part 3

Posted by AzBlueMeanie:

After the childish Beltway media spent a day debating the nuances between Star Wars and Star Trek, let's switch genres from sci-fi to comic books, something not too intellectually challenging within the Beltway media's level of comprehension that they just might be able to understand.

Brendan Nyan writing at the Columbia Journalism Review has an excellent piece on why the Beltway media is an epic failure. "The Green Lantern Theory of Sequestration: Hey, pundits: President Obama can’t magically solve the budget impasse in Washington":

Screenshot from 2013-03-02 13:12:44One of the recurring themes in commentary on national politics is the
demand for the president to change politics as we know it to accomplish
some otherwise unattainable political goal. If only President Obama tried a little harder, some critics claim, he could magically overcome legislative obstacles to gun control or clean energy legislation. I’ve dubbed this fantasy the Green Lantern Theory of the Presidency in honor of the comic book superheroes whose abilities to use their “power rings” depend on their willpower.

Tuesday’s New York Times column
by David Brooks on the debate over the so-called budget sequester is a
case in point. Brooks freely admits that he’s writing about a “dream
Obama,” yet demands—like so many Green Lantern-ites before him—that the
President “fundamentally shift the terms” of the debate and “transform
the sequester fight by changing the categories that undergird it.”

Likewise, a Tuesday Washington Post editorial . . .
agrees with Obama’s proposed approach to the budget debate but
nonetheless faults him for “not leading the way to a solution.” The
problem? Not enough rhetoric!

* * *

The demands for greater presidential will in a Monday column by National Journal’s
Ron Fournier were even more vague. Fournier acknowledges Republican
“obstinacy” but nonetheless demands that Obama “lead a stubborn Congress
to actual compromise and accomplishment.” How exactly? Fournier doesn’t
know either! . . . (As New York Magazine’s Jonathan Chait put it, “Hypnosis! Jedi mind tricks! Whatever!”)

But perhaps the most absurd example of Green Lantern-ism came in a David Ignatius column in this morning’s Washington Post that Greg Sargent, a liberal blogger for the newspaper’s website, described
as the “[b]est example of ‘Daddy Obama must force problem children in
Congress to behave’ ever.”
In the column, Ignatius offers a biting
critique of House Republicans—he compares them to drunk drivers, calls
them the “primary culprits” behind budget gridlock and dysfunction, and
accuses them of being “intoxicated with their own ideology.”

And yet, Ignatius says, it is Obama who “needs to provide the
presidential leadership that guides Congress and the country toward
fiscal stability… he should take the steering wheel firmly in hand and
drive the car toward the destination.” What does that mean, exactly?
What steering wheel? The best Ignatius can do, again, is to ask for
magic words.

* * *

Green Lantern-ites have been seduced by the myth of the bully pulpit and do not seem to appreciate the relatively limited powers of the president on domestic policy issues.

The media should instead focus greater attention on Congress,
which writes the tax and budget legislation that determines how the
federal government spends its money. Obama has relatively little
leverage over the Republicans who control the House of Representatives,
almost all of whom represent districts
he lost in 2012. And while the sequester was designed to be so onerous
that it would force both parties to compromise, the sequester would
still require substantial political pain, making it difficult for the administration to herd legislators toward a deal.

h/t The Last Word for the graphic.

Comments are closed.