Katherine Graham is spinning in her grave at what has happened to her family’s Washington Post. I fully expect her to arise any day now and enter the newsroom on a furious mission. In Ms. Graham’s day, no mere stenographer would have had a gig typing up drivel like this, and no editor would have dared put it on the front page. Obama’s New Tack: Blaming Bush President Points to ‘Inherited’ Economy.
In his inaugural address, President Obama proclaimed “an end to the petty grievances and false promises, the recriminations and worn-out dogmas that for far too long have strangled our politics.”
It hasn’t taken long for the recriminations to return — or for the Obama administration to begin talking about the unwelcome “inheritance” of its predecessor.
What is that supposed to mean? We’ve been paying attention. We know that the former occupant of the Oval is where the blame rightly lies, and even Faux Noise had to admit a month ago that Obama has tried to be bipartisan, it is the republicans who have failed. Fueled by approval of Democratic governance, or attempts to govern, anyway – congressional approval is at a four-year high.
And why the hell did this GOP hack put “inherited” in scare quotes? I can tell you why – he is a useful idiot. He is part of the media apparatus that gave Bush cover for eight long years and helped him ‘catapult the propaganda.’ Useful idiots like him carried enough water to float the notion that everything that went wrong for poor, hapless aWol was all the fault of that big bad Clinton who took all the W’s off the computer keyboards when he left, and they just never recovered.
Over the past month, Obama has reminded the public at every turn that he is facing problems “inherited” from the Bush administration, using increasingly bracing language to describe the challenges his administration is up against. The “deepening economic crisis” that the president described six days after taking office became “a big mess” in remarks this month to graduating police cadets in Columbus, Ohio.
“By any measure,” he said during a March 4 event calling for government-contracting reform, “my administration has inherited a fiscal disaster.”
Obama’s more frequent and acid reminders that former president George W. Bush left behind a trillion-dollar budget deficit, a 14-month recession and a broken financial system have come at the same time Republicans have ramped up criticism that the current president’s policies are compounding the nation’s economic problems.
Obama had initially been content to leave partisan defense strategy to his proxies, but as the fiscal picture has continued to darken, he has appeared more willing to risk his image as a politician who is above petty partisanship to personally remind the public of Bush’s legacy.
His approval ratings remain strong — above 60 percent, according to the most recent Gallup poll — but have dropped from their highs almost entirely because of falling support among Republicans since he took office.
Again with the scare quotes? He did inherit a huge f*cking mess. It isn’t petty to point out the ugly truth, and I, for one, am absolutely thrilled to see the President pushing back against the GOP-compliant corporate media. And with his approval ratings solidified above 60%, he can take it as a mandate and step on the obstructionist assholes and crush them like bugs. Take the idiot rethugs out of the equation, and there is nearly universal approval for the presidents proposed budget.
Upon entering the White House in 2001, Bush pinned the lackluster economy on his predecessor, using the “Clinton recession” to successfully argue in favor of tax cuts that won some Democratic support. But for Obama, who built his candidacy on a promise to rise above Washington’s divisive partisan traditions — winning over many independent voters and moderate Republicans in the process — blaming his predecessor holds special risks.
He will need support beyond his Democratic base as he begins lobbying for his $3.6 trillion budget, which proposes sweeping changes in health care, the energy sector and the public education system. The president did not receive a single House Republican vote for his stimulus plan, prompting some in his administration to view his bipartisan outreach efforts as having little hope of success.
Again, as I said close to the top, we know exactly who failed at bipartisanship. The President extended a hand to the shrinking minority that has been utterly humiliated in two consecutive elections, and the ungrateful curs not only bit it, but doubled down on their obstructionist tactics.
And Republicans have seemed only more emboldened in their rhetoric. Sen. John McCain (Ariz.), for example, recently called the borrowing needed to fund the president’s economic recovery plans “generational theft.”
Hey, anyone else remember how John Kerry was all over the media after he just barely failed to unseat an incumbent in wartime? No? Yeah, me neither. Yet this guy, who took the hardest beating since Mondale, is still getting rides on the mass media tireswing.
“What the administration is involved in now is the politics of attribution,” said Lawrence R. Jacobs, a political scientist at the University of Minnesota. “Each week that goes by with falling job numbers and Republican criticism of the administration’s flaws means falling approval ratings. What’s the antidote? That the guilty party is George Bush.”
“The trick,” Jacobs said, “is how do you shift blame to George Bush and retain any credibility on the idea that you are looking past partisan warfare? This looks like a doubling down on a very partisan approach.”
I just love the semantic gymnastics that Jacobs is engaging in. It would only qualify as shifting the blame if the President had inherited overwhelming goodwill of other nations, a budget surplus and the longest peacetime economic expansion in the history of the republic and proceeded to piss it all away and then blame his predecessor. Like Bush did. Remember?
By Jacobs logic, when a drunk wraps a car around a tree, the cop who arrests the drunk is guilty of shifting blame from the tree that shouldn’t have been standing there anyway to the drunk who had every right, nay responsibility to race 90 miles an hour down the road and into the ditch.
The only thing more pathetic than a lazy academic partisan like Jacobs is the lazier, more partisan stenographer churning out easily-debunked palaver like this article.