Wednesday, June 10, 2009

I Think I Just Heard A Discouraging Word

Until recently, the sound of criticism of Obamanomics was rarely heard outside of conservative newspapers (both of them) and conservative websites (all four of them). OK, there might be a few more, but not many.

But hark! The voice of dissent is being heard outside the conservative bastions. It's not exactly a cacophony, but at least a few liberal publications and broadcasts have stepped off the reservation about the claims that the Obama administration has been making about its economic stimulus plans. You know the ones that are going to cost us a few billion, or a few trillion, or a few quadrillion (that comes next, right?) dollars, depending on whose numbers you believe.

Now it's no surprise that the Wall Street Journal might have a few negative things to say about the spendathon, so here's something to compare the others to: "Two pressure points are emerging in Congress's rush to pass health-care legislation by the August break: how to pay for the package and whether to create a new public health-insurance plan." This came after the Journal reported that "a Gallup poll released Monday showed for the first time that a majority, 51%, disapprove of Mr. Obama's handling of federal spending." The Washington Times reports that Obama's overall support on the economy has slipped to 53%, but he maintains an inexplicable 67% overall approval rating. That is higher than either of his two predecessors at this point in their Presidencies.

The Washington Post, the liberal publication least likely to declare every Obama feint to be an act of God, said "the list of spending plans detailed . . . amounted to little more than a restatement of plans already underway for the coming months, without any explanation of what steps, if any, the White House would take to accelerate the pace of spending." Essentially the Post's complaint is not that the plans eat up too much of the national wealth, but that the President hasn't laid out a clear plan of how he intends to get people to spend those funds faster. But at least it's a complaint, which is better than most major newspapers had expressed.

And then, drum roll please, the Post actually said that the Administration's "push to spin the package was accompanied by a classic misstatement by Vice President Biden," who said that "a big chunk of the money was geared toward 'make-work projects.' " Not exactly a stunning J'accuse, but it's a start. The article referred to Biden, not Obama, but at least it raised an issue.

Politico online said that conservatives have a point when they say that the "save or create" concept for jobs is meaningless because it is impossible to prove or disapprove the theory in the first place. The Los Angeles Times, normally to be counted on to say that Obama is right if he says the moon is made out of green cheese, was a little less direct than the Post. "Obama billed the stimulus as an adrenaline jolt, but the economy is still sputtering." OK, the article moved from the active to the passive voice in one sentence, but it's better than nothing. I'd have been happier if the line after the comma had read "but the stimulus has instead turned out to be a morphine drip."

The New York Times, in a monument to misdirection said "The President is now in the position of trying to convince Americans that his signature legislative achievement thus far is working, even as job losses mount." Translation: "The President wasn't exactly wrong, he just needs to explain it better." Nevertheless, it's not praise. And the always reliable Associated Press (allegedly a news agency, not an editorial agency) reported that "For the first time, the administration admitted the economic forecasts it used to sell the stimulus were overly optimistic."

As for the broadcast media, The CBS Evening News said "It's been nearly four months since Obama signed that $787 billion stimulus into law (mathematical translation: $1.3 trillion), and the economy is continuing to hemorrhage jobs." The AP followed up with an additional comment that Obama was scrambling to calm Americans"unnerved by unemployment rates still persistently rising nearly four months after he signed the biggest economic stimulus in history."

Outside of the conservative world, the comments have not been very damning, but they do question Obama, his administration and the whole stimulus scheme, and that is a major crack in the previously cut-and-paste Obama talking points that they have been printing and broadcasting since before the November election. If Obama doesn't respond by ordering Attorney General to threaten the publications with injunctions and criminal charges, we may soon start seeing the MSM making genuine criticisms of the whole monumental Ponzi scheme that is the Obama administration economic policy. Or not. Maybe they'll just blame the Obama scheme on Bush.

For those who wish to read more about the cracks in the Obama facade, I refer you to an excellent article on U.S. NewsBulletin (U.S. News and World Report online) entitled "Media Skeptical of Obama Stimulus Claims." The piece is a wealth of more detailed quotes and sources on the subject.

11 comments:

StanH said...

As usual great read Lawhawk! I think the disjointed polls, personality vs. policy as Dick Morris stated, and to paraphrase, “it’s kind of like being into a marriage for a 100 days that you know is not going to work, but when someone asks you say, everything’s great.” The “stimulus” makes work not jobs, and is unsustainable, permanent jobs will have to be created in the private sector, eventually. But, true enough even the left is starting to become concerned, and as this situation worsens, and I fear there’s more pain to come, there will be much gnashing of teeth, and Washington politicians will throw us all under the bus. God bless this great country, we’re gonna need it!

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk,

Four points of recent criticism to add that even the MSM is starting to get:

1. Only 5% of the stimulus money has been spent. Suddenly, the stimulus plan makes no sense -- what happened to shovel ready?

2. Chinese officials literally laughed (publicly) when Geithner told them that their money is safe. They want immediate debt reduction.

3. His claims of saving/creating 150,000 jobs (66,000 of which are temporary census jobs) is being viewed with incredible skepticism because there is no way to calculate it. Even Max Bacaus (D-Montana) has said this is a garbage because it can't be proven (he was very angry at Geithner).

4. The new claim that taxpayers have made money on the TARP got a nice round of laughter on European Squawk Box last night because it all depends on made up values assigned to the warrants (99% of the value of what we got -- the rest is miniscule interest payments). Using similar logic, I'm a trillionaire because I'm sure the rocks in my yard are worth a trillion dollars.

Writer X said...

I think the people who are polled in all of these supposed presidential approval rating polls are people who only watch David Letterman and read Newsweek.

I keep waiting for my phone call.

Great article.

patti said...

my fav piece yesterday was bronstein's commenting on how the press acts like fans instead of journalists. (http://www.sfgate.com/cgi-bin/blogs/bronstein/detail?entry_id=41380) although it's laughable he was just figuring it out.

Melissa Marsh said...

Yep - they'll blame it on Bush. That's what they'll fall back on. Again and again and again. As dear Patti likes to say, "Can't quit ya!"

Good read, Lawhawk. Let's hope the media starts to open their eyes a bit. (A lot would be asking for too much!)

LawHawkSF said...

StanH: The beauty of all this is the mistakes are coming so fast that the MSM don't have time to get their ducks lined up properly for a universal positive spin on Obama's reign of chaos.

Andrew: Your points are well-taken, and each of the news stories danced around them. The Washington Post touched on the lack of sufficient spending from the stimulus funds, but just barely. That included their near-throwaway line about Biden and the "make-work" projects. But no mention of the fact that these jobs do nothing to create profit which would help the economy. The British member of the European Parliament has been considerably harder on Obama's TARP implementation than any of our MSM. And none of them are commenting on the fact that the Chinese government has a better handle on how capital works than does our present administration

LawHawkSF said...

Patti: Isn't the Chronicle fun? As long ago as the Watergate scandals, the paper was a newspaper world joke. They actually brought it up in the movie All The President's Men. When a reporter came in with a ridiculous story taken from an unreliable source, Washington Post editor Ben Bradlee said "Give it to the San Francisco Chronicle. They'll print anything." Even farther back, I can remember that when I was a freshman at Cal, the Chron ran a front page story, complete with a half-page picture of King Kong hanging from the spire of the Empire State Building, with the headline "Camp--A New Dimension." As for Bronstein, the best I can say is that even Satan tells the truth occasionally when it suits his purpose.

Melissa: It seems that poor W. is going to continue to get as much press as O. Just not the same kind. I'm more reasonable. I blame everything on King George III.

SQT said...

Ah, cracks in the facade. You gotta love it.

While I don't think we're going to see the media get too critical anytime soon (if ever), we may be seeing the honeymoon period winding down.

I haven't quite figured out why the MSM clings to a methodology that isn't profitable-- blindly supporting Obama. And I have no idea if they will ever pull their collective heads out of their a***s. But the instinct for survival might kick in when the public outcry gets loud enough. Then, maybe, we'll see some backlash and some coverage that actually scrutinizes Obama's administration.

I'm not banking on it but I still have a tiny bit of hope.

LawHawkSF said...

SQT: My guess is that headlines or not, the Reagan Democrats are starting to show some anger and mystification. In Virginia, a virtually unknown moderate from a rural county just won the Democrat primary for governor over two nationally prominent liberals. Even though we can't expect major criticism from the MSM, the dazed and confused criticism is helping us whether they like it or not.

Now, our problem is exactly what Andrew has been discussing in his excellent "Rebuilding the Republican Party" articles. We now need to establish that the Reagan Democrats are the XXXXXXX Democrats, and so far Candidate X has left us in the lurch.

AndrewPrice said...

Lawhawk, thanks for the plug! Let's call them "Commentarama Democrats."

LawHawkSF said...

Andrew: Andrew: ALL RIGHT! I've already written their theme song: "We are the world, we are the Commentarama Democrats." Or maybe "Sweet Home, Commentarama." Next stop: The White House.

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