Commentary Magazine


Contentions

Re: Obama, a “Sort of God”?

I wanted to include an addendum to my article about the comments of Newsweek’s Evan Thomas, who on Friday said of President Obama, “he’s sort of God,” and added:

Well, we were the good guys in 1984, it felt that way. It hasn’t felt that way in recent years. So Obama’s had, really, a different task. We’re seen too often as the bad guys. And he — he has a very different job from — Reagan was all about America , and you talked about it. Obama is “we are above that now.” We’re not just parochial, we’re not just chauvinistic, we’re not just provincial

On February 5, 2007, Newsbusters.org printed a partial transcript of the program Inside Washington, which included this exchange:

Gordon Peterson: “What do you think, Evan? Are the mainstream media bashing the president unfairly?”

Evan Thomas: “Well, our job is to bash the president, that’s what we do almost –”
Peterson: “But unfairly?”
Thomas: “Mmmm — I think when he rebuffed, I think when he just kissed off the Iraq Study Group, the Baker-Hamilton Commission, there was a sense then that he was decoupling himself from public opinion and Congress and the mainstream media, going his own way. At that moment he lost whatever support he had.”

And Jeffrey Goldberg of the Atlantic, after researching what Thomas had said in the past, concludes, “On the other question, of whether Thomas was correct in saying that ‘we were the good guys in 1984, it felt that way,’ Nexis tells a slightly different story about whether Thomas himself felt ‘that way’ in the mid-1980s.” Goldberg supplies the evidence here:

So when George W. Bush is president, “our job is to bash the president” (in this case, for daring to “kiss off” the Iraq Study Group, the Baker-Hamilton Commission, the MSM, and for endorsing the surge in Iraq, which has proven to be a remarkable success). When Barack Obama is president, however, he is “sort of God” – and is treated that way by Thomas’s magazine. And even though Thomas claims it felt like we were “the good guys in 1984,” at the time people like Thomas took a very different, and far more critical, approach to President Reagan.

None of this is surprising, and all of it is instructive. It is no state secret that most members of the press corps have a liberal-leaning mindset, at least on most issues. Now and then it shows, often subtly and sometimes overtly, both in the coverage of stories and in the selection of stories. But the enchantment with a political figure has never been what we are seeing with Obama; he touches the erogenous zone in liberals in ways no one else ever has. Phil Bronstein of the San Francisco Chronicle has admitted that when it comes to Obama, “So we’re in love, lust, or just a whole lot of like.” (Bronstein also asks, “Is there an actual limit to the number of instances you can be the cover of Newsweek?”)

Evan Thomas, who embodies a “progressive” cast of mind that is both widespread and spreading, has done us the service of expressing his true feelings for the man he believes to be “sort of God.” And we, in turn, will keep that in mind when Thomas and some of his like-minded colleagues write and speak on Obama and politics in our time.