Commentary Magazine


Topic: Richard Wolffe

Next Up: Cap-and-Trade?

Every time you think the Obama administration’s chutzpah has maxed out, you read another story that teaches you that this is a quality that should never be underestimated. According to the Daily Beast, senior aides are telling the press that once they are finished ramming an unpopular health-care package down a reluctant Congress’s throat, they will begin the same process with a raft of legislation aimed at further depressing the American economy and increasing Washington’s control of what will be left: cap-and-trade carbon laws aimed at reducing the threat of global warming.

Though last week some of the same sources were claiming that a long overdue immigration-reform package (a goal that George W. Bush tried and failed to achieve due to resistance from his own party) would be the next step, it makes sense that Obama would be more interested in cap-and-trade, since it reflects his own ideological predilections about increasing government power and deferring to international opinion.

Yet even the sympathetic Daily Beast can’t quite fathom how Obama thinks he will force-feed such a dubious proposal to Congress or the American public. As Richard Wolffe writes of the administration’s hubris: “Obama is even taking up climate change — an issue on which, after an anticlimactic summit in Copenhagen and a scandal that raised questions about whether advocates were skewing the research, the president would appear to be swimming entirely upstream. ‘We were never going to go small,’ said one senior Obama aide, referring to the Clinton strategy after his party’s defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections.”

How do we account for such a lack of realism on the part of the White House? The chances of passing cap-and-trade were already quite small even before the revelation of statistical fraud at the crucial Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University and of false claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Does the White House relish being linked to dubious research about melting glaciers in the Himalayas or misleading hockey-stick diagrams purporting to show temperature increases that aren’t there? Does Obama really want to spend the months before the midterm elections watching environmental extremists take center stage as cap-and-trade is debated in Congress? Is he willing to play Sancho Panza to Al Gore as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate jousts with windmills in what would be an obviously futile effort to get Democrats to go along? (Forget about the Republicans ever backing such legislation — especially if they get the opportunity to hand Obama another major defeat before November.)

Perhaps the “senior aides” dishing this story are just blowing smoke at the press, but if true, the idea that global warming is next for Obama shows just how divorced from political reality this administration has become.

Every time you think the Obama administration’s chutzpah has maxed out, you read another story that teaches you that this is a quality that should never be underestimated. According to the Daily Beast, senior aides are telling the press that once they are finished ramming an unpopular health-care package down a reluctant Congress’s throat, they will begin the same process with a raft of legislation aimed at further depressing the American economy and increasing Washington’s control of what will be left: cap-and-trade carbon laws aimed at reducing the threat of global warming.

Though last week some of the same sources were claiming that a long overdue immigration-reform package (a goal that George W. Bush tried and failed to achieve due to resistance from his own party) would be the next step, it makes sense that Obama would be more interested in cap-and-trade, since it reflects his own ideological predilections about increasing government power and deferring to international opinion.

Yet even the sympathetic Daily Beast can’t quite fathom how Obama thinks he will force-feed such a dubious proposal to Congress or the American public. As Richard Wolffe writes of the administration’s hubris: “Obama is even taking up climate change — an issue on which, after an anticlimactic summit in Copenhagen and a scandal that raised questions about whether advocates were skewing the research, the president would appear to be swimming entirely upstream. ‘We were never going to go small,’ said one senior Obama aide, referring to the Clinton strategy after his party’s defeat in the 1994 mid-term elections.”

How do we account for such a lack of realism on the part of the White House? The chances of passing cap-and-trade were already quite small even before the revelation of statistical fraud at the crucial Climate Research Unit at East Anglia University and of false claims made by the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change. Does the White House relish being linked to dubious research about melting glaciers in the Himalayas or misleading hockey-stick diagrams purporting to show temperature increases that aren’t there? Does Obama really want to spend the months before the midterm elections watching environmental extremists take center stage as cap-and-trade is debated in Congress? Is he willing to play Sancho Panza to Al Gore as the Nobel Peace Prize laureate jousts with windmills in what would be an obviously futile effort to get Democrats to go along? (Forget about the Republicans ever backing such legislation — especially if they get the opportunity to hand Obama another major defeat before November.)

Perhaps the “senior aides” dishing this story are just blowing smoke at the press, but if true, the idea that global warming is next for Obama shows just how divorced from political reality this administration has become.

Read Less

The Real Hypocrisy

COMMENTARY contributor Jamie Kirchick, observing NPR’s ever-so-helpful effort to assist in the Obami’s Fox vendetta by pressuring Mara Liasson to stay off its news programs, spots the double standard at play. He writes:

“By appearing on Fox, reporters validate its propaganda values and help to undermine the role of legitimate news organizations,” declared Jacob Weisberg in a Newsweek column titled “Why Fox News Is Un-American” (remember that title the next time a liberal accuses a conservative of “questioning my patriotism”). “Respectable journalists — I’m talking to you, Mara Liasson — should stop appearing on its programs,” Weisberg insisted.

Kirchick wants to know why Weisberg hasn’t spotted the “violators of the Fourth Estate’s vaunted ethical standards” in his own shop — those who regularly turn up on the netroot network, MSNBC. Yes, it seems that Newsweek‘s supposedly impartial newsmen — Richard Wolffe, Howard Fineman, and Jonathan Alter — all have visited Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. Unlike Liasson, who confines herself to news programs, this trio has offered themselves up as bit players in Olbermann’s rant-athon and cogs in the Obama hype-machine. And, as Kirchick notes, Wolffe wrote a slobbering account of the Obama campaign. And then there was this embarrassing episode:

This year, Fineman went beyond the bounds of journalistic propriety by introducing Olbermann at a political fund-raiser. “He’s not a liberal,” Fineman gushed. “What Keith is is an anti-establishment character who doesn’t want people in power to get away with things.” Fineman added that Olbermann “rediscovered the role of journalism and that role is deeply informed judgment about people in power and about the morality of our country.”

Yikes. But perhaps the Newsweek vs. NPR journalist comparison isn’t precisely accurate. Liasson actually is a neutral newsperson who makes some effort to cover events fairly and to leave hyper-partisan invectives to others. She might be cheerily susceptible to liberal spin, but she’s not in the business of spinning for the Obami herself or gratuitously throwing jabs at the Right.

By contrast, the new Newsweek gang gave up “news” reporting a while ago. The entire publication is now devoted to Obama-hype and slams against the usual conservative suspects, those in biking shorts and with talk-radio shows in particular. Newsweek is, in effect, the MSNBC of the weekly “news” magazine world, minus the more extreme Republicans = Nazis formulations one hears on Countdown. So the real hypocrisy here is not only that the media elites see Liasson alone as violating some code of journalistic purity; it is that they accept the pretense that Newsweek is a news outlet rather than a liberal opinion journal in search of an audience.

COMMENTARY contributor Jamie Kirchick, observing NPR’s ever-so-helpful effort to assist in the Obami’s Fox vendetta by pressuring Mara Liasson to stay off its news programs, spots the double standard at play. He writes:

“By appearing on Fox, reporters validate its propaganda values and help to undermine the role of legitimate news organizations,” declared Jacob Weisberg in a Newsweek column titled “Why Fox News Is Un-American” (remember that title the next time a liberal accuses a conservative of “questioning my patriotism”). “Respectable journalists — I’m talking to you, Mara Liasson — should stop appearing on its programs,” Weisberg insisted.

Kirchick wants to know why Weisberg hasn’t spotted the “violators of the Fourth Estate’s vaunted ethical standards” in his own shop — those who regularly turn up on the netroot network, MSNBC. Yes, it seems that Newsweek‘s supposedly impartial newsmen — Richard Wolffe, Howard Fineman, and Jonathan Alter — all have visited Keith Olbermann’s Countdown. Unlike Liasson, who confines herself to news programs, this trio has offered themselves up as bit players in Olbermann’s rant-athon and cogs in the Obama hype-machine. And, as Kirchick notes, Wolffe wrote a slobbering account of the Obama campaign. And then there was this embarrassing episode:

This year, Fineman went beyond the bounds of journalistic propriety by introducing Olbermann at a political fund-raiser. “He’s not a liberal,” Fineman gushed. “What Keith is is an anti-establishment character who doesn’t want people in power to get away with things.” Fineman added that Olbermann “rediscovered the role of journalism and that role is deeply informed judgment about people in power and about the morality of our country.”

Yikes. But perhaps the Newsweek vs. NPR journalist comparison isn’t precisely accurate. Liasson actually is a neutral newsperson who makes some effort to cover events fairly and to leave hyper-partisan invectives to others. She might be cheerily susceptible to liberal spin, but she’s not in the business of spinning for the Obami herself or gratuitously throwing jabs at the Right.

By contrast, the new Newsweek gang gave up “news” reporting a while ago. The entire publication is now devoted to Obama-hype and slams against the usual conservative suspects, those in biking shorts and with talk-radio shows in particular. Newsweek is, in effect, the MSNBC of the weekly “news” magazine world, minus the more extreme Republicans = Nazis formulations one hears on Countdown. So the real hypocrisy here is not only that the media elites see Liasson alone as violating some code of journalistic purity; it is that they accept the pretense that Newsweek is a news outlet rather than a liberal opinion journal in search of an audience.

Read Less




Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor to our site, you are allowed 8 free articles this month.
This is your first of 8 free articles.

If you are already a digital subscriber, log in here »

Print subscriber? For free access to the website and iPad, register here »

To subscribe, click here to see our subscription offers »

Please note this is an advertisement skip this ad
Clearly, you have a passion for ideas.
Subscribe today for unlimited digital access to the publication that shapes the minds of the people who shape our world.
Get for just
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
YOU HAVE READ OF 8 FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
FOR JUST
Welcome to Commentary Magazine.
We hope you enjoy your visit.
As a visitor, you are allowed 8 free articles.
This is your first article.
You have read of 8 free articles this month.
YOU HAVE READ 8 OF 8
FREE ARTICLES THIS MONTH.
for full access to
CommentaryMagazine.com
INCLUDES FULL ACCESS TO:
Digital subscriber?
Print subscriber? Get free access »
Call to subscribe: 1-800-829-6270
You can also subscribe
on your computer at
CommentaryMagazine.com.
LOG IN WITH YOUR
COMMENTARY MAGAZINE ID
Don't have a CommentaryMagazine.com log in?
CREATE A COMMENTARY
LOG IN ID
Enter you email address and password below. A confirmation email will be sent to the email address that you provide.