Question: When is a politician’s flip-flops treated as if they are the result of a philosophical evolution by a modern-day Socrates? Answer: When the elite media is covering Barack Obama.
As evidence for this assertion, I would cite this Washington Post story by Philip Rucker and Juliet Eilperin. In a piece about Obama’s shift on counter-terrorism policies, we’re told, in a story with the headline “A philosophical shift in policy on surveillance,” this: “The former constitutional law professor — who rose to prominence in part by attacking what he called the government’s post-Sept. 11 encroachment on civil liberties — has undergone a philosophical evolution, arriving at what he now considers the right balance between national security prerogatives and personal privacy.”
In case you didn’t notice, dear reader, Mr. Obama didn’t simply experience an evolution; it was a philosophical evolution. It all sounds so downright thoughtful, well considered, and intellectual. We’re also told in the headline on the jump page of the story that “Obama strives for a pragmatic approach.”
Of course he does.
Something similar occurred with Obama’s position on same sex-marriage (SSM). In the 1990s, as a state legislator, he supported it. Then, when running for the U.S. Senate in 2004, he opposed it, including on grounds that it violated his Christian beliefs. Obama also said he opposed same sex-marriage in the 2008 presidential election. Once he became president, however, he indicated he was rethinking his position–and by 2012, Obama endorsed same-sex marriages, arguing that his Christian faith helped dictate his decision. And how did the press report Obama’s shift? Here’s a headline from ABC News: “Obama’s Evolution On Gay Marriage.”
If mere mortal politicians–or at least mere conservative politicians–did what Obama does, they would be accused of being unprincipled and crafting their positions on important public matters based on which way the political winds were blowing (which was certainly the case for Obama on SSM). But the elite media, still enchanted with Mr. Obama, are determined to portray him as our modern-day Greek philosopher–a deeply pragmatic, empirical, and non-ideological truth seeker who has the ability to “grow” in office and rethink his positions.
We’re supposed to come away from stories like the Post’s grateful for having as our chief executive a man of such intellectual detachment and off-the-charts intelligence. For my part, I came away from the story once again reminded of how, when it comes to Barack Obama, many journalists are simply courtiers, and will be until the day he leaves office.