It is an odd quirk of mathematics that the absolute center isn’t a part of any side. In either direction that the middle might turn it will find equal opposition. And, as he enters his third month atop the hottest seat in America, President Barack Obama is beginning to learn that in trying to reach out from the center, the support of either side may be beyond his grasp.
(Or so the story is being sold.)
To hear it told, as it is being told to us by the air quote “liberal” media, Obama is fast on his way to becoming the next Osama. Poor Barack, this may not have been what he had had in mind when, as candidate Obama, he claimed he aimed to bring both sides of the American political spectrum together. But here is his dream coming together in a way he probably had not expected. Yes, the Left has taken to joining the Right all right—in turning against him. At last a president that Rush Limbaugh and Alex Jones can both froth at the mouth over. (Or so they say.)
While serious liberal commentators have consistently condemned aspects of the Obama agenda, more mainstream “liberals” have begun joining the fray of Right-wing radio jabber-jaws in seeking purchase to pull down the icon of the American people so their masters, the rich, can keep their eye on the American Dollar.
In the rarified air of the blogosphere, the tsunami on the Left has risen so fast over Obama’s handling of the AGI bonuses that AlterNet’s Don Hazen had to compile them to leave enough space for some news other than Obama bashing. In his rabidly reprinted New York Times thrashing, Frank Rich likened Obama the last Whitehouse resident by talking about him “squandering political capital” and quoting someone else’s reference to the AGI bonus fiasco as his “Katrina moment.” Fellow NYT columnist, Paul Krugman called the Obama economic team’s ideas “Zombies.” As you know, when a Noble Prize winning economist disses a president’s economic plan he better watch out. Look back at all the damage Joseph Stiglitz did to Bush’s plans. Oh yeah, none.
And, then there’s Arianna Huffington, who appears to have decided it is more fun to play a liberal on TV than to actually be one. She has joined the apparently endless roster of anti-Obama commentators CNN has floated to torpedo the current ship of state. Speaking if which, thanks to the current anti-Obama tone in the mainstream press, Anderson Cooper continues to visibly relish the chance to get to pretend he is a hard hitting journalist and presidents and kings are his routine punching bags. But if he had talked that way about Bush he might have run the risk of interviewing Guantanamo Bay guards from the wrong end of a waterboard.
Meanwhile the right wing onslaught has continued unabated. To hear the GOP tell it, Obama may have wanted to talk about education but he’s the one is getting schooled. As the projected cost of Mr. Obama’s proposed budget for his War on our Economy grew to equal the projected cost of Mr. Bush’s War on Terror, Republicans in lockstep cried impending doom, and have actually taken to using the word “Doomsday.” In all honesty, they may have their point. Surely Obama’s potential success would indeed lead to a doomsday … for the Republican Party.
And so to fight back, the ever-Wild-West rootin’ tootin’ radical Republican, Minnesota’s Michelle Bachman has taken to calling for her armed and dangerous followers to prepare for revolution. And the ever-dependable Mr. Limbaugh himself, whose volcanic temper can erupt so violently even Bobby Jindal would support monitoring it, Rush has begun working his way through the “Obama as a dictator” metaphors and risen to likening Obama to Robert Mugabe, at least according to Media Matters’ new Limbaugh log, “Limbaugh Wire.” Not to be outdone the New York Post likened him to Nero.
On Jay Leno one day, on “60 Minutes” the next, NCAA handicapping, primetime press conferences, to hear the GOP pundits call it, Obama’s biggest problem that he is on his way to becoming the most overexposed male celebrity this side of Ron Jeremy. But, there remains the possibility that what the phrase “Obama is overexposed” actually means in American English, as opposed to Newspeak, is that the GOP is simply sick of hearing about him.
That’s the way the story’s being sold, as I said, but the truth may be that they may be the only ones. A closer look at the American public’s reception of the latest developments, as dismal as they’ve been, and how they reflect on our president suggests that America’s supposedly mounting Anti-Obama movement may be mostly made up as the message is being framed so the supposed “mainstream” media can continue to sell Obama upriver. After all, framing is everything when you are trying to make someone suspect.
Take for example the way the Boston Herald used the latest Zogby Poll on Obama’s weekly approval rating. Under the title, “Poll of change: Obama’s job approval slipping to ‘50-50’,” columnist Joe Dwinell juxtaposes numbers to make it look like Obama’s popularity has taken a nose-dive. “The honeymoon is over,” Dwinell begins and loads his nutgraph with words like “stumbled” and “crippled.” As the article continues, Obama “backpedals,” he’s “punch-drunk,” his numbers “are going down.” Of course, all of that depends on which numbers one wishes to take out fo the Zogby Poll.
According to the poll released Mar. 24, entitled by the way, “Those Saying U.S. Headed in Right Direction Continue to Increase, Now 45%,” it does say that Obama’s job approval rating has slipped 3 points to 49%. In fact that is the subtitle. But in the opening paragraph, Zogby acknowledges that confidence in our country’s direction has increased from 14% to 45% (which translates to a 300% improvement) since Obama took office and that his favorability numbers are essentially unchanged at 55%.
Ah numbers. Let the American Left use them and the American Right abuse them, either way the American people are not as sick of Obama as we are being told.
At least not yet, anyway.
--mikel weisser writes from the left coast of Arizona.