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.