Pete, I never underestimate the media’s willingness to ride to the rescue of a beleaguered liberal, but aside from the embarrassing cheerleading by Anderson Cooper et. al. there is a fair amount of rather critical press analysis going on. Perhaps the print (or online) media is less inclined to run interference for the Obama administration than the niche cable networks.
Bloomberg calls it part of his “stumbling start.” Lynn Sweet points out that the Obama team is ”having trouble duplicating the well oiled Obama campaign.” The New York Times reminds us of Obama’s ongoing problems and the Washington Post editors actually take the White House to task.
So even the mainstream media admits that the Obama team has, at the very least, tripped themselves up. Certainly the left blogosphere and its allies at MSNBC will express horror that those mean Republicans would point out all the pork in the stimulus and the partisan overreach. But the problem with that spin is two-fold:
First, in order to explain the Republicans’ combativeness it is necessary to explain what it is they are griping about. (This Politico story is a good example.) The Republicans are no doubt delighted to get help on that front. Second, it is hard to escape the facts. Tom Daschle and Tim Geithner, not to mention the Performance Czarina, did have tax “problems.” The ethics waivers have been tossed around like confetti.
And, yes, the stimulus is a liberal land-grab with hundreds of pages of non-stimulative largess. It is hardly the model of bipartisanship or transparency, even the A.P. concedes. Slate likewise acknowledges:
In this case, not only is the end product ragged—some of the elements aren’t terribly stimulative—but the means were ugly. The differences between the House and Senate bills were reconciled mostly in secret by House and Senate Democratic leaders, three Northeastern Republicans, and White House aides. This is hardly unusual for Washington—which is precisely the problem: It’s not the change Obama promised.
So I don’t think the Democrats should rest on their laurels. There is only so much the MSM can do to help them out of the hole they are digging. When you act like a hyper-partisan Chicago pol, minus the ruthless efficiency, it catches up with you.