Saturday, January 30, 2010

Obama makes nice, MSNBC makes not nice, Boehner follows suit

The President’s session with the House Republicans might have been the first step toward more civil political discourse and toward working together on the problems facing the American people. Might, but not if some have their say.
Many in the media paint all political activity as sport, with winners and losers. For example, Friday night MSNBC’s brain trust—Chris Matthews, Keith Olbermann, and Rachel Maddow—rushed to crown Obama the winner, the Republicans (of course) the losers. And—just to rub it in—pointed out that the Republicans had been outsmarted into letting America see the President’s triumph.
Then on Saturday, after generally constructive comments by Republicans who attended, the office of House Minority Leader John Boehner (R-OH) put out a release headed,  "Rhetoric versus reality: President Obama repeats discredited talking points during dialogue with House GOP."
Once again, people on both sides of the political divide rush to keep anyone from bridging the divide for the benefit of the American people. Shame on MSNBC, and shame on John Boehner.


Judith Ellis said...

It's not quite the same to compare news analysts, many of whom have not been very impressive to me and I have written so repeatedly, with leaders in Congress. It seems like you went for a stretch to find a comparison. Sometimes we just have to call it like it is and you have in many cases here. But not this time. If there were no Democratic leaders responding the way Boehner did it would seem fair just to say what Boehner said. It seems to me that it would have been fair to say what the analysts of MSNBC said versus what those of FOX said. You would not have been lacking in good examples. Also, I did not hear any Democratic leaders giving high fives in public. Why not say that? Speaking of Boehner, I find it very difficult to believe that even members of his own party actually believe what he said. If so, they would simply be believing a lie. This would be shameful. But shame seems to be for many in the culture in general the lesser when an advantage, any advantage, is sought after.

Jack Marshall said...

Bob, it shouldn't have been televised at all. That guaranteed that the event would 1) be treated as a competition, and 2)would not get truly open and sincere comments from any of the participants. The President was effective and verbally adept, as always; I thought he was evasive on several questions, and I thought both he and the GOP were reduced to talking points too often. It was a good start. I have to say that I am amazed that the President's cheerleaders in the media are still so ecstatic about rhetoric. Speeches are a tool of effective leadership, but they are not the same thing as leadership.

Bob said...

Judith, my point wasn't to equate media people with Congress, it was to say that hyper-partisanship on both sides is destructive.

Jack, I'm not sure you're right. There's something to be said for transparency, even when the cameras influence behavior. And I think the participants were pretty open, even with the cameras there..

Judith Ellis said...

Bob - I agree about hyper-partisanship. Glad for the qualifier, though, because there are differences. This is okay. It's just when the differences stop all progress, no matter who hold the majority. I also completely agree with you about transparency in government.

Judith Ellis said...

Oh, and I got your point about not equating the two. Thank you.