Leaning forward in his director’s chair in the World Center Hotel with the rebuilding of the One World Trade Center in the background, Robert De Niro knocked down the Right wing, mainstream media framing of liberals thrown at him by David Gregory on Meet the Press, and he did it with a sardonic look of ease that said “I’m two steps ahead of you, Gregory.”
Watch here courtesy of MSNBC:
When asked the negative question, “Are you as inspired and hopeful and satisfied with what he’s done as president as he stands for re-election?“ De Niro pointed out that it’s very easy to criticize people, but he thinks Obama has done a good job.
David Gregory: So much is in a political context right now because of campaign, whether it’s Osama bin Laden or the war in Afghanistan. You’re somebody who cares a lot about politics but hasn’t been involved until 2008 when you talked about your inspiration and support for President Obama. Are you as inspired and hopeful and satisfied with what he’s done as president as he stands for re-election?
Robert De Niro: It’s very easy to criticize people. (Pause for irony.)
I think he’s done a good job. He’s done other things that maybe he should have been stronger about, people will complain. (Pause for mainstream media to catch its breath and regroup- liberals are not supposed to come out and say “he’s done a good job”. But at least De Niro put the qualifier on it.)
De Niro continued: It’s not easy to be President of the United States, and he — that was pointed out in the “New York Times” in the last Sunday week in review by Peter Bergen about all the things he did as far as bin Laden and other things that he stepped up being a liberal president, supposedly, that were effective.
(Oh, no you didn’t Robert! You did not just own national security for a Democrat on MTP! Not allowed!)
De Niro softly reminded Gregory of the risks Obama took: Not always — you know, there’s all the negative side of that, but he took the chance to do it, and he did it ultimately with bin Laden.
Gregory was perhaps stunned into silence, so De Niro went on: I give him credit (small dig here—I give him credit, why don’t you?) and I hope he does – I know he’ll do better in the next four years when he doesn’t have to worry about being elected or not.
I swear I saw David Gregory’s face freeze to avoid an involuntary twitch of shock when De Niro pointed out Obama’s accomplishments, specifically calling out the killing of bin Laden. Gregory was thinking that surely all liberals got the message that it was “unseemly” to take credit for that. Hush up, you Democrats. Show a little respect for the Real Patriots – you know, the ones who never even looked for bin Laden but now want the credit. The ones who never served and whose children never served. Those patriots.
That pop you just heard was about 4 different right wing frames of Democrats exploding at once.
Here are the accepted frames that go unquestioned: Democrats are bad at national security (false), Democrats always hate their own President (false in this case), Liberals can easily be shamed into denouncing their own achievements (false in this case), and Democrats should never tout their own achievements because the Right wing has accused them of being tacky for doing so (though the Right wing will tout non-existent achievements of their own with no shame – Mission Accomplished, baby!).
At least De Niro put on the qualifier at the end and gave the Right their only sound bite from the interview.
Robert De Niro just expressed the new phenomenon known as the Obama Democrat or Obama Independent. Unlike the Clinton Democrats, the Obama Democrats are not going to be shamed into thinking they can’t speak well of their own President.
That old school meme that floated around the liberal blogosphere that anyone who said anything good about Obama was a “cheerleader” was a form of thought that was born out of a knee jerk response to an atmosphere of hate via the Right, which allowed “attacking the Democrat 100% all of the time” to become the new middle ground.
It’s odd for people who espouse a preference for democracy to be paving the way for the proven Plutocrats, but whatever. Democrats can make you sick — usually, ironically with their refusal to take a stand for a liberal idea, but at least they try to represent the people. I say ironically because the same people who criticize Democrats for this are often the first to abandon the Party when signs of Right wing trouble come a-callin’.
The liberal bend-over backward routine to prove they are not a cheerleader also came from the notion that free thinkers would naturally disagree with their party’s President, lest they be sheeple. This is an inherent vulnerability in liberalism, for liberals must hold their own accountable to the values espoused by the party and to transparency in order to have any consistency in values. However, I don’t think it’s asking for too much nuance for people to appreciate the difference between holding an administration accountable and propagating hate and hysteria. The Right exploited this weakness until the Left became Republicans best and most willing weapon against the Democratic Party.
This election cycle, the media is going to be in for a little surprise. Sure, if they want the usual wet blanket allegedly Democratic apologist, they know who to call. But there are plenty of Obama Democrats and Independents out there, and they aren’t going to let the Republican Party’s Sunday mouthpieces slap a purple Band Aid on them in silence.
For years, the Right accused Obama supporters of acting like “he’s The One!” and yet at no time has Obama ever said God called him to be President. In fact, it is the Republican candidates who time and time again claim divine right to the office.
Yes, it is the Republican Party who are led by a network of propaganda and lies, and tricked into voting against their own interests, and they are tricked via political religion and social issues. In order to avoid their flock seeing this, the party leaders cleverly accuse the other side of doing it, thereby projecting their weaknesses onto the other. When Liberals and Independents buy into that framing, they only move the discussion further away from policy and help Republicans sell their distortions and distractions.
Liberals and Independents can take a cue from De Niro. He didn’t fawn, but he did not back away from owning the achievements. He did not apologize for the achievement. He owned it. Liberals and Independents don’t need to keep being manipulated and backed into a framing corner by the Right’s projections.
We wonder when the media is going to wake up to the new age. We’re tired of Sunday shows with 70% Republicans spouting nonsense we can read on the back of a cereal box. We want real debate, based on facts, with moderators who know their subject matter and can call out lies. We’re bored and tired by these old school shows where even staler Republican framing is trotted out every morning for a little unchecked airing but no sunshine.
Republicans are not the go-to party for national security. Democrats own national security right now, and they did it without politicizing fear or invading a sovereign nation.
De Niro said it. The media needs to deal with it, get over it, and either come to the party or watch their viewers die off.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.