Obama eye

Dateline: Mon 05 Nov 2012

Journalists by inclination and training "comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable," as the cliche goes.

Our hearts bleed for a lost cause or a sad case (when the Manhattan nanny killed two young children in her care, slitting their throats, the New York Times' second-day response was to examine the difficulty of the nanny's life and ignore the family who had lost their kids...I can think of other examples where similar slants played out, including Indy.)

By the same token, we journos are never as much in our glory as when we are taking down some fat cat, eating the richies for dessert and serving them up for breakfast in the morning cycle. Tasty. Most reporters' DNA includes an anti-establishment streak ... well, sort of. We tend to distrust big business, or business in general -- God, we hate privatization -- but not big government. We are enthralled with Occupy Wall Street, and even glorified it, but give us a Tea Party party and we're not partaking.

This simplified mentality is the backdrop for the MSM's adoration affair with President Barack Obama. I say simplified because, in truth, plenty of liberal pundits have written columns recently outlining their disappointment with Obama --Maureen Dowd, Richard Cohen and Frank Bruni are three I've read.

Still, they'll vote for the guy, because most journalists remain true blue to liberal agendas. And what does that mean? Liberals respond with hearts and conservatives with heads, to quote Indy Star liberal columnist Dan Carpenter's long-ago definition. Another take: liberals are exuberant and spontaneous; conservatives see danger at every pass and are cautious and hide-bound. Or as Clint Eastwood said, most conservatives are not out hot-dogging it. Liberals are flashier; hot-dogging is just dandy.

So Obama is the liberals' lib, not only in policy but lifestyle. "Our first Asian president!" one friend pronounces, because the guy lived in Indonesia, making him even more cool than being black. No wonder Hollywood and younger voters adore him: he's the sexy guy who gets (and supports) same-sex marriage and believes in unlimited birth control and abortion access. He's for "the people," the heroic 21st century equivalent of FDR, putting health care and much more in citizen pockets. He's a community champion, not part of the pack of filthy p.o.s. corporations and their Midas-touch pig CEO's.

That's the spin. Truth is always much more complicated, and Mr. Obama may not be quite so one-dimensional. But image (and policy) are everything....

I voted for Obama in 2004. I worked for his campaign in Cincinnati, spending a week at a Motel 8 with a bunch of smart, hip, young true believers. I donated money to his election efforts and canvassed for him in such diverse and unlikely places as Metamora, Ind., Putnam County (got the t-shirt) and 30th and MLK Drive. I heard him speak in Ohio and Indy, and I sincerely believed he was our Savior -- the one man on Planet Earth who could bring us all together, end wars and create prosperity.

That was the journalist in me -- the mushy journalist. So mushy that the night Prez was elected, I wept for hours, despite being scheduled for corneal surgery at 5 a.m. the next morning. Two reasons to cry: sheer happiness and relief -- those black ministers talking on NPR about history being made really got the waterworks going -- and the election-day realization that my spouse had voted for Sen. John McCain because, simply, "I thought he'd be best for the country." Talk about not hot-dogging.

Copious tears created my Obama eye. When I went in for surgery Wednesday at dawn, I thought they'd give my puffy swollen lid a pass. Instead, they pried the eye open and operated. That eye is now forever slightly off-kilter. A reminder, permanent-like, of the prez and sweet love.

But I see more clearly now, although, no question, I've struggled with the vote. And been bullied by liberal friends (hot-doggers, many). And the kids -- they're pro-Obama to the end.

A turning point was last spring, when a young stockbroker at Morgan Stanley gave his take on the stalled economy and high jobless rate. David Gergen, conservative pundit, had spoken to the brokers at a national convention, and Gergen told the story of how Obama three years or so into office called in major CEOs to no-press-allowed White House sessions in an effort to get a game plan. Gergen told the brokers that CEO after CEO exited those closed-door meetings with sour faces: the prez and his top peeps do not get it. These guys are clueless about the economy and blind to the benefits of capitalism.

Since deficits, including those created by George Bush, are obviously harmful -- look at Europe -- it seems obvious that adding to the national debt, as the Dems have done, is not wise. But dismissing business interests as fundamentally suspect is truly stupid. As an old railroadman said, "A poor man never gave me a job." Yeah, the rich do serve a purpose: they make jobs.

Then there's the Catholic jab in the eye. Obama lost my respect when he allowed the pro-choice zealots in his administration to dictate to Catholic hospitals that birth control/abortion should be a given, despite the religious beliefs of millions of Catholics. 

And finally, Mitt Romney: I find him a decent, ambitious, centered man who has a gift for making money, who ran Massachusetts well, who (like Obama) loves this country and (unlike Obama) realizes that big government is not going to solve our problems, but jobs may go a long way to getting us back on the road to well-being. As disenchanted as I've always been with the Ayn Rand school of thought -- it is a philosophy that glorifies selfishnesss -- Paul Ryan is correct that Medicare and Social Security desperately need reform or will go broke.

I'm not going to lose my shit if Obama wins; did that last cycle. Ditto, if Romney is victorious. The only reason in truth to explore these thoughts is to provide a look into the thinking of an independent voter and the bias that some journos carry deep in our hearts. (A caveat: I've never been partisan and always voted conscience and policy, not party).

The fact that the election is so close proves that there are many others out there like me who are disenchanted and looking for fresh ideas.

Should be an interesting night. At least I know I won't be relying on Chuck Todd or Nate Silver for real results, nor will I have that thrill up my leg ever again.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Comments

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Nice to read your blog again, Ruth.

My wife and I also campaigned for Obama, bought pizzas for his young workers, bought the T-shirt, etc. etc.

I became disenchanted with him for some of the reasons you mention, Ruth, and for reasons you didn't mention. But not to the point that I'd buy into Mitt.

My conclusion is that no one can change the course this country is on because money and power rule here - always have, always will. I've decided I would be delusional to try to believe otherwise.

The fantasy concept that "the people" run the show has fallen and can't get up. So I won't be shedding any tears one way or the other.

John Lennon once said that the political process is akin to orphaned children looking for a Daddy (Mommy). Neither R nor D is going to apply a bandage and "make it all better."

I know that what I've written sounds cynical, but as an old man I've tried to see things in life for what they are, not for what I wish they are.

2012-11-06 12:37:34

Write Man [Member] said:

Gotta disagree with you here, Ruth. Very likely that Obama knows the debt has to be fixed and we need jobs, lots of 'em and better paying than many that are being added. Tough to do when the "party across the aisle" is dedicated to ensuring you're a one-term president at all costs.

IF we can agree that the recession was indeed The Great Recession, and that it really began in earnest in 2007, then it's reasonable to think that it would take this long to come out of it. Here's a cool site for getting a better handle on where we're really at: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/studies/recession_perspective/.

It is very likely that regardless of who sits in the Oval Office we will see significant job growth, at least according to Moody's Analytics (here: http://www.economy.com/home/products/samples/Moodys-Analytics-US-Alternative-Scenarios.pdf). Even the Congressional Budget Office expects us to add nearly 10 million jobs in the next four years, and statistically speaking, if things stay as they have been (in terms of new jobs added), we'll add nearly 8 million by simply doing nothing. (And that's likely what we'll be doing...remember, Romney's going to busy himself with dismantling Obamacare on Day One, which ought to ensure the party across the aisle ain't gonna be in much of a mood to cooperate).

If you're not reading Matthew Yglesias, you should be: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/11/romney_obama_and_economics_the_economy_s_already_recovering_so_whoever_wins.html.

The truth is, neither candidate is going to make a huge difference in that sense, and I think your analysis of Libs and Conservatives is too shallow. George Lakoff's perspective -- that conservatives believe in a structured, paternalistic construct, with rules that MUST be followed and liberals in a more dual-parent, nurturing one with a keener value for justice and fair play -- seems a bit more nuanced and for what little it's worth, to me the more accurate. Has nothing to do with hot-dogging or not.

2012-11-06 13:14:29

Write Man [Member] said:

Gotta disagree with you here, Ruth. Very likely that Obama knows the debt has to be fixed and we need jobs, lots of 'em and better paying than many that are being added. Tough to do when the "party across the aisle" is dedicated to ensuring you're a one-term president at all costs.

IF we can agree that the recession was indeed The Great Recession, and that it really began in earnest in 2007, then it's reasonable to think that it would take this long to come out of it. Here's a cool site for getting a better handle on where we're really at: http://www.minneapolisfed.org/publications_papers/studies/recession_perspective/.

It is very likely that regardless of who sits in the Oval Office we will see significant job growth, at least according to Moody's Analytics (here: http://www.economy.com/home/products/samples/Moodys-Analytics-US-Alternative-Scenarios.pdf). Even the Congressional Budget Office expects us to add nearly 10 million jobs in the next four years, and statistically speaking, if things stay as they have been (in terms of new jobs added), we'll add nearly 8 million by simply doing nothing. (And that's likely what we'll be doing...remember, Romney's going to busy himself with dismantling Obamacare on Day One, which ought to ensure the party across the aisle ain't gonna be in much of a mood to cooperate).

If you're not reading Matthew Yglesias, you should be: http://www.slate.com/articles/business/moneybox/2012/11/romney_obama_and_economics_the_economy_s_already_recovering_so_whoever_wins.html.

The truth is, neither candidate is going to make a huge difference in that sense, and I think your analysis of Libs and Conservatives is too shallow. George Lakoff's perspective -- that conservatives believe in a structured, paternalistic construct, with rules that MUST be followed and liberals in a more dual-parent, nurturing one with a keener value for justice and fair play -- seems a bit more nuanced and for what little it's worth, to me the more accurate. Has nothing to do with hot-dogging or not.

2012-11-06 13:14:34

Duke Young [unverified] said:

Voted for him in 2004? You had that thrill up your leg for a long time, Ruth.

2012-11-06 14:05:32

Duke Young [unverified] said:

Voted for him in 2004? You had that thrill up your leg for a long time, Ruth.

2012-11-06 14:05:35

Ms. Cynical [unverified] said:

Sorry, Ruth, but you're backing the wrong horse in this race.

Obama is head-and-shoulders above Romney, both in compassion for the down-trodden and cool-headed diplomacy.

I shudder to imagine Mitt's finger on the nuclear trigger.

2012-11-06 21:29:21

Whitebeard [unverified] said:

Re-read your post tonight after the election results came in, Ruth. Guess I didn't think about this statement on the first read....." 'A poor man never gave me a job.' Yeah, the rich do serve a purpose: they make jobs.' "

My thought is that, yes, they make some jobs - by frequently outsourcing them to poor countries where the workers are treated, literally, as "wage slaves." In the U.S., they make jobs that more often than not fail to provide workers and their families an opportunity to live decent, secure lives.

Jesus Christ is quoted as saying to one particular successful CEO of his time: "It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God."

When I was young, I spent a lot of time in fundamentalist churches and don't ever recall hearing that quotation featured prominently as a part of a minister's discourse.

2012-11-07 00:39:05

hendy [Member] said:

Ruth, fear-based koolaid is addictive. Anxiety-fueled decisions play into the hands of the disinformationists, the meme-movers, the propagandists, and the schmucks.

People that play into your fears often do so out of their own greed-- and fear. It's ok to have fear.... but rational and objective thinking help us make decisions based on reality. The reality is: Romney probably didn't pay federal taxes, exported jobs, and while he's a clean-living sort, also availed himself of the greed and "wealth-building" so common among many (but not all) capitalists today.

The total and unmitigated fabrications foisted WRT Social Security are fallacious and need better examination--- more fear based BS, whereas just a few important fixes (like removing the caps-- no-- heaven forbid!!!) might fix it. This is the reality-- the fear is that people won't be able to build wealth as quickly.

Overall, Hope Won. Greed and Control walked.

2012-11-07 07:43:09

varangianguard [unverified] said:

Should have listened to Nate Silver after all.

2012-11-08 07:09:27

John M [unverified] said:

Ruth, I'm sorry that your reasons for supporting Obama in 2008 were so superficial and childish and that your expectations were so unrealistically high. Don't paint all of us who have voted for Obama in 2008 and/or 2012 with the same brush. Believe it or not, on both occasions I voted for Obama because "I thought he'd be best for the country." It's pretty darn insulting for you to allege that only those who have voted for McCain or Romney have such motivation.

And yeah, Nate Silver nailed it, while supposed "numbers guys" Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan personally slurped the Fox News "skewed polls" Kool-Aid until the very end.

I suppose it speaks well of the Reagan Revolution that the notion that cutting taxes on "job creators" grows the economy is considered self-evident despite no empirical proof. Never mind that the period in which this country has experienced its greatest economic growth was the postwar era of sky high (higher than I would advocate) marginal tax rates on the wealthy and huge amounts of government spending on the interstate system, the GI Bill, etc.

2012-11-12 12:15:48

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