Monday, October 18, 2010

First as Comedy, Next as Tragedy, Third as....Disaster?

David Rothkopf writing at NPR argues quite effectively that to grasp Washington, DC right now, watch 30 Rock:

"Perhaps the greatest howler of them all from my point of view comes in Peter Baker's excellent profile of Barack Obama in this Sunday's New York Times's Magazine. In this thoughtful, exceptionally well-written and reported piece, Baker portrays a reflective president contemplating his political fortunes on the eve of what could be a pretty rough midterm election. In one particularly pivotal paragraph, he writes:


"Most of all, (Obama) has learned that, for all his anti-Washington rhetoric, he has to play by Washington rules if he wants to win in Washington. It is not enough to be supremely sure that he is right if no one else agrees with him. "Given how much stuff was coming at us," Obama told me, "we probably spent much more time trying to get the policy right than trying to get the politics right. There is probably a perverse pride in my administration — and I take responsibility for this; this was blowing from the top — that we were going to do the right thing, even if short-term it was unpopular. And I think anybody who's occupied this office has to remember that success is determined by an intersection in policy and politics and that you can't be neglecting of marketing and P.R. and public opinion."


When did Tina Fey have the time to write this while preparing for that live shoot of her show? What wry hilarity. They spent too much time trying to get the policy right rather than getting the politics right? Really? Sorry, I must have been watching another channel. It seems to me that every single move of this administration from the size and shape of the stimulus to the switch from Iraq to Afghanistan, from avoiding what really needed to be done on health care to avoiding doing anything meaningful on climate change, from taking the stands he did on financial reform and sidestepping the issues he wanted to avoid on the same, were all based on political factors. The president deserves considerable credit for all he has accomplished — but let's please try for a trifle more honesty and self-awareness. Let's stop trying to sell what Bo left in the Rose Garden as a bowl of pudding, please."

Full article by Mr. Rothkopf here.
 
Peter Baker's article in the New York Times magaine on "The Education of a President" here
 
Also, importantly, in my opinion, Frank Rich's take on the "Rage That Won't End on Election Day":
 
"It’s no better now. In a cover article last month, Barton Gellman wrote in Time that the magazine’s six-month investigation found that “the threat level against the president and other government targets” is at its highest since the antigovernment frenzy that preceded Timothy McVeigh’s bombing of a federal building in Oklahoma City in 1995.


"While Obama-hatred remains a staple of the right, the ebbing of his political clout may have diminished him as a catchall for America’s roiling, inchoate rage. The president is no longer the sole personification of evil. For those who see government as Public Enemy No. 1, other targets will do, potentially some as remote from Washington as Oklahoma City."

More here

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