Obama’s Win

I have watched with interest to see how the political/news media would cover Obama.  More precisely, I have been thinking about what the intersection of the 24 hour news cycle and the cable TV/radio echo chamber and Obama’s deliberate manner will look like.  To me, what it looks like is that Obama sets the agenda, lets the various actors play out their chosen roles for symbolic value, and ultimately ends up with whatever his agenda was designed to accomplish.  This is pretty much the bill he said he was going to seek in terms of scope and dollar amount, with bi-partisan support (just enough). Certainly, there was dialogue between the GOP and the White House, so I think his claims to a bi-partisan bill are deserved.

I’m not particularly interested in arguing about whether the 65/35 split between spending and taxes is right or wrong, or what the line items are.  That’s why I vote for other people, so once their election is eventually certified they can go and vote and make those decisions on my behalf.  I think the act of the spending itself will be the important part.

But it doesn’t seem like I’m hearing much about this being a win for Obama; no matter whether you think the spending is right or wrong, you’d have to say he’s hitting the ground running and is primed to push more of his agenda down the road.  I would have said that would be medical reform if the Daschle thing hadn’t happened.

How many millions of recent broadcast and print words offered up as media filler did Obama obliterate with his simple statement about the wisdom of heeding spending caution offered by people who doubled the debt in eight years?  When your rebuttals are that complete and that short, it’s hard to fill the news cycle.

It’s the same pattern he showed in the election, of course.  An issue comes up.  The media and his opponents hyperventilate until they run out of breath.  Obama appears calm, despite scrapes that have to be overcome, and he ends up getting mostly what he set out to get.  Did he get all of his appointees?  No.  But as far as setting the agenda and working the process…it seems like he can do that.  And it’s clear there aren’t going to be any ideas coming from the GOP that will be going anywhere.  If Obama can get this stimulus package, he’s going to get most of what he wants.  So expect this coverage pattern to continue in the cable/radio/print world for awhile: Obama bungled this thing, Obama and the Dems are wasting that opportunity, blah, blah and so on.  Meanwhile he’s transforming the country and getting those gray hairs for the trouble.

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7 Responses to Obama’s Win

  1. Nathan D says:

    It has been amusing to listen to AM talk radio and such to see what they can up with to throw at Obama — most of it is downright laughable. The Daily Show and Colbert have done a nice job pointing out the bald hypocrisy (sad and wonderful that these two shows remain some of the most important sources of actual information).

    But, with this much power, the Dems are almost inevitably going to produce a real scandal one of these days, and the drumbeat of “ethics challenges” has already begun, so if something of actual substance comes to the surface that can be associated in any way with Obama (and, it will), you can bet the 24-hour news vortex will amplify that beyond reasonable proportions.

  2. Katy says:

    More so than ever, the 24 hours news cycle has departed almost completely from the opinions of average Americans. And this is a good thing. I hope that it becomes a vicious cycle of sorts – in an effort to gain attention, cable shows and am radio will become even more sensationalistic, opinionated and negative, people will become even more disinterested, until these outlets are reduced to cycling between Rush Limbaugh, the octuplets lady and celebrity scandals, and no one watching or listening, until many outlets simply go away. If Obama can accomplish that with his serious, rational and unrushed way of running the country, based on that alone, he will be one our greatest presidents in my book.

  3. That’s an interesting thought, Katy. I guess I never took it to that conclusion, that talk radio/cable TV is essentially still a ratings business, and if people can break that cycle somehow they would become extinct.

    Nathan, I agree that scenario you describe will come. My hope is that the last 8 years (or four months) have re-oriented people to what matters in a leader, and what distinguishes a fatal transgression for a President or Administration. If they can turn the economy around, I think they’ll be given a lot of rope.

  4. kelly says:

    I don’t mean to be flippant; but even if he accomplished everything he set out to do in his campaign cycle, which would be revolutionary and of historic proportions hard to fathom – that won’t sell papers, or bring in republican constituents. Both of which are on verge of being extinct.

    I like Katy’s theory….. wonder if holds true for the two party system, republicans, and as well as punditry.

  5. Nathan D says:

    If you think either the GOP or tens of millions of peoples’ appetite for sensationalist news is going away you may suffer from what doctors call Obamaidealismrunamokitis.

  6. Katy says:

    Nate, I like your coined -itis term. My theory involved more a thinning of the ranks of sensationalistic news sources, hopefully especially those sources that claim to be legitimate, as opposed an end to sensationalistic news. I’m as drawn in by the articles about the octuplets lady as anyone, much to my embarrassment. But let us leave that to the US Weekly and Fox News of the world.

    The newspaper question that Kelly raises is an interesting one – I have heard that newspaper circulation is at record highs across the country, largely because of the election, so while Obama’s presidency will lack some of the intrigue of an election cycle, it may well sell papers. Certainly the depressing stuff that filled the headlines day after day during the last 8 years did not. However, sadly, I think that will not be enough to prevent the demise of some major, legitimate news outlets.

  7. pipelineblog says:

    That last point shows just how dire the newspaper situation is–even with some of the highest readership of recent times with the election, their models (and decision-making) are so fundamentally flawed that even during a sales boom they can’t stay afloat.

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