The media was hoping to get some juicy liberal anger to fuel their “Obama is Bush” narrative at Netroots Nation, but NBC noted sadly, “… the attendees here bristle at suggestions this president is anything like George W. Bush, despite some of those policy similarities.”
Many liberals pointed out that Obama shares their values on the majority of issues.
NBC, salivating over Obama’s slipping poll numbers “amid controversies on government surveillance, the IRS targeting of the Tea Party, and attacks on the consulate in Benghazi” (note to NBC, the Tea Party wasn’t alone in being “targeted”) listed the policies they think make Obama Bush (drones, Gitmo, NSA). These are the “sore points” for liberals at Netroots, they tell us, and yet, liberals bristle at the idea that Obama is Bush.
“That’s for the fringe,” Kerry Jones, a construction manager from Medina, Ohio, told NBC. “No, there’s no comparison… How can you say ‘Bush Lite?’ No way in hell.”
Michael Thome, a blogger at Daily Kos, wasn’t buying it either. He told NBC that the comparisons to Bush go too far. “Personally, I didn’t buy it. I think Obama is mostly a centrist Democrat. He tends to side with corporate Democratic concerns and leans more to the center…. Obama supports a majority of my positions.”
Markos Moulitsas, the owner of Daily Kos who established Netroots, explained that the far left is just like the Tea Party, “There are those who think Obama can do no wrong and those who think he’s a sellout. It’s either – ‘I trust Obama’ or ‘I told you Obama is terrible.’ I don’t think it changed anybody’s opinion about it. … The notion that it’s one or the other is hyper simplistic. There are some people who won’t ever be happy. Dennis Kucinich could be elected, and they won’t be happy. Their perception of what should happen isn’t realistic. Those people are aligned with – have an ideological rigidity very similar to the Tea Party movement.”
Oops. Turns out, the liberals at Netroots were mostly “pragmatic” (code for not buying into this absurd narrative about Obama being Bush). We could also call them sane.
The media got the usual rage from those who have never been happy with one single thing Obama has done (the same people who ignore Congress’ role in refusing to close Gitmo, who often overlap with the people bought into the Libertarian lie that Obama asked for the language in the NDAA to detain American citizens). They spoke of their big disappointment in the President, or perhaps, more clearly, their naive belief that his words would automatically translate to policy as if there were no other branches of government.
The media has obviously forgotten Weapons of Mass Destruction, Iraq, Mission Accomplished, Katrina, Valeria Plame, and so much more. Comparing Obama to Bush because there is some overlap on national security issues (when understood from a simplistic, crude point of view with no room for nuance, intention and effort) is like saying any overlap makes an equal.
For example, even though Congress refused to even vote on proposed changes to provide more oversight to the Patriot Act, the executive branch (the only branch Obama has authority over, by the way) implemented several of those suggestions on their own. The ACLU’s legislative council Michelle Richardson explained to PolitiFact, “Most notably, the Justice Department decided to implement several measures that were originally included in the USA PATRIOT Act Sunset Extension Act of 2009 – a failed oversight bill proposed by Sen. Leahy.”
Reality is sometimes maddening but apparently not-so-difficult-to-comprehend that the media can sell their “Bush Lite” narrative to the majority of liberals. Once again, the Obama coalition reveals themselves to be much more pragmatic than the media would like them to be.
Didn’t we just watch this movie during the 2012 election?
The media never seems to get who the Obama coalition are – they are not the far left. They never were. They are the people who care about the middle class, equal rights for all minorities, people who got turned by WMD, moderates and far left but pragmatic Democrats who understand that real change, lasting change, comes incrementally. They might not be as loud as the far left and no one is as loud as the far right, but they turned out to vote for this President and they are a reliable majority.
They also aren’t easily manipulated by the WMD selling media.
Ms. Jones is the 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.