The Transitive Property of Marginalization, and the Unconscious Statism of Pundits Who Like Presidents

Salon Editor in Chief Joan Walsh, while getting President Obama's back on the health care debate, tries to make a tremendously significant and complicated policy overhaul mostly about the political party not in power:

I know Obama has a nearly impossible task, dealing with Blue Dog Democrats and crazy Republicans -- from Wild Bill Kristol, chickenhawk, telling the GOP to "go for the kill" and do whatever it takes to defeat Obama on healthcare, to Sen. Jim DeMint's similarly sinister prediction that if Republicans defeat Obama on healthcare "it will break him." GOP zealots are clearly more interested in killing or breaking President Obama -- politically, of course; I don't think they are assassins, personally -- than helping Americans get the healthcare they need. It's a little creepy, but once you've watched a crazy "birther" hector moderate Republican Mike Castle about Obama's birth certificate and other related delusions -- well, then nothing Republicans do can surprise you.

Though Walsh would surely bristle at the label, I think she's demonstrating here (even in half-jest) what Jesse Walker memorably coined as "the paranoia of the centrists." By portraying Republicans as "crazy," "nearly impossible" to deal with, "interested in killing or breaking Obama," and obsessed with "Obama's birth certificate and other related delusions," she is attempting to marginalize the minority national party away from the Adult's Table, in much the same way that pro-war Republicans at the height of George W. Bush's popularity aimed to tar anti-war Democrats as being "on the other side." Put another way, what does a (mostly) fringe obsession with Obama's birth certificate have to do with Obama's health care plan? Precisely nothing.

Democrats and their supporters, like any temporary majoritarian with hands on the wheel of state, need to remember an important point: The burden of proof is not on the minority party (or other citizens) who say "no" or even "hold on a sec." The burden of proof is on the politician who wants to make a major change in public policy and the use of taxpayer dollars. (And for the record, I say this as someone who finds much of our current health care system to be disgraceful.) It wouldn't matter a bit what Bill Kristol thought (or whether he, uh, served in the military?) if the Obama administration had crafted a health care plan that passed the smell test for 60 percent of the population, or even all of his own party's senators. I know it's irritating and all, but you really do have to convince the rest of us sometimes, instead of just pressing the "Do Something" button.

Having opened fire on the minority, Walsh then turns her scope onto the media:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Obama had to move his Wednesday press conference, which is expected to zero in on the importance of serious health care reform, an hour earlier, because three of four national networks balked at preempting their top-rated shows. According to THR: "Fox declined to air the press conference outright. NBC and ABC fell into line late Monday after the White House shifted the event's time from the previously announced 9 p.m. to the lesser-watched hour of 8 p.m." What shows were they worried about? "America's Got Talent," "So You Think You Can Dance," "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show!"

Now, I love my reality TV, but that's a disturbing, indelible picture of how skewed our media priorities are.

How did Salon react when "media priorities" forced President Bush to reschedule his prime-time press conference about Social Security reform in 2005? Like this.

[Link via Ann Althouse]

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  • ||

    "Salon Editor in Chief Joan Walsh, while getting President Obama's back on the health care debate, tries to make a tremendously significant and complicated policy overhaul mostly about the political party not in power:"

    IOW, he's a HUGE fan of the Ed Show.

  • Kyle Jordan||

    "Now, I love my reality TV, but that's a disturbing, indelible picture of how skewed our media priorities are."

    No, it's a sign that people are starting to tire of the verbal diarrhea that Obama continuously spews forth about his idiotic plans to save the universe.

    This woman is an insipid cunt.

  • ||

    he = she

  • ||

    I know Obama has a nearly impossible task, dealing with Blue Dog Democrats and crazy Republicans

    Yes, it's terribly difficult when you have a nearly filibuster-proof majority in the Senate and total domination of both houses. Poor Obama, he must struggle so valiantly...

  • ||

    Does anyone see the irony of this post following another one of those "look at those crazy, out of touch Republicans" articles by Mr. Suderman?

  • Paul||

    I have to admit it's taken a little longer than I thought, but I predicted that the Obamatrons would find some obscure GOP congressman from a 'safe district' to be the source of Obama's problems.

  • Paul||

    Does anyone see the irony of this post following another one of those "look at those crazy, out of touch Republicans" articles by Mr. Suderman?

    ON the surface, yes. However, talking about crazy, out of touch Republicans in the scope of merely analyzing the party itself is perfectly normal. Blaming the crazy, out of touch minority which wields little or no power as the source of your majority party's problems and your failure to enact your mandate... that's a little different.

  • Paul||

    I know Obama has a nearly impossible task, dealing with Blue Dog Democrats and crazy Republicans

    And that fucking proposition 13...

  • Mad Max||

    Defending the health bill on the grounds that Bill Kriston dodged the draft will certainly be easier than defending the bill on its own merits. So I understand Walsh's approach.

  • ||

    Well, I'm just happy to see that Bill Kristol is more willing to use his veto than President Bush was.

  • ||

    Pual said - "Blaming the crazy, out of touch minority which wields little or no power as the source of your majority party's problems and your failure to enact your mandate... that's a little different." - I agree.

    But that's not what I read Matt as saying in this article:

    To quote Matt "she (in this case Suderman) is attempting to marginalize the minority national party away from the Adult's Table"

    That's why I found it ironic.

  • ||

    Pual = Paul

  • JB||

    But doing something makes her vagina feel better. You just don't have enough empathy to understand.

  • Gilbert Martin||

    "No, it's a sign that people are starting to tire of the verbal diarrhea that Obama continuously spews forth about his idiotic plans to save the universe."

    I was more than tired of it before he ever got elected.

    He has a way of talking that suited to an emporor or Rome than it is to a United States president - full of grandiose and unilateral pronouncements.

    One of the most irritating is when he starts off with "Make no mistake...". Which of course means that anything he says after that is flat out lie.

  • Invisible Finger||

    What shows were they worried about? "America's Got Talent," "So You Think You Can Dance," "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show!"

    Why diss these shows? A speech from Obama is usually just a text version of "Ow My Balls!"

  • Obama||

    You're going to destroy my presidency.

    Well, I be damned, failure is an option after all.

  • ||

    GOP zealots are clearly more interested in killing or breaking President Obama...than helping Americans get the healthcare they need.

    Joan Walsh, on the other hand, is more interested in rooting for her idealized Savior than in the actual content and effect of his plan.

    There are no credible actors in this drama.

  • Seward||

    P Brooks wins the thread. Full stop.

  • ||

    Seward, my vote goes to Invisible Finger @ 1:53 pm.

    Ya know, there is absolutely no reason why any goddam speech or press conference or event needs to be on more than one channel. If you want to watch it, there it is. Having the Administration expect it's dog and pony shows to saturate the airwaves is vaguely totalitarian.

  • ed||

    Democrats and their supporters, like any temporary majoritarian with hands on the wheel of state, need to remember an important point: The burden of proof is not on the minority party (or other citizens) who say "no"...The burden of proof is on the politician who wants to make a major change in public policy.

    It's so adorable when the Democrats in power, and their obedient lefty "journalist" bedmates, attempt to subvert their own precious fable of "democracy" by whining over and over again that, "We won, we're in charge now, get over it, insane Republicans (The Party Of No©) with your nutty Sarah Palins and your evil Dick Cheneys!"

    They've had a good chuckle these past six months, but the American citizenry, Allah bless 'em, might not be as stupid as they think. I'm not saying we're a nation of geniuses, but maybe we're just smart enough to recognize a scam when we see one (eventually).

  • ||

    If I owned a TV network, the Enjoy Every Sandwich network would never air a presidential news conference live. If, by some one-in-a-million chance, the president said something important that was substantially different from what he had said in the last thousand or so speeches/appearances, then it would get 10 seconds coverage on the news.

    Yeah, I know what some of you are thinking: "Ooh, he's the PRESIDENT!!! Of these Yoo-knighted States!!! Leader of the Freeeeee World!!! How can you disrespect like that?"

    Pfah, as easily as a fat dog farts.

  • Jim Treacher||

    Remember when "obstructionism" required the ability to actually obstruct anything?

  • Jim Treacher||

    What shows were they worried about? "America's Got Talent," "So You Think You Can Dance," "Wipeout" and "I Survived a Japanese Game Show!"

    Every single one of which will get better ratings than tonight's episode of "Who Wants to Be on Obamacare?" Not that Joan Walsh would know anything about a media entity actually earning a profit.

  • max hats||

    Reason fail

    from this post:

    By portraying Republicans as "crazy," "nearly impossible" to deal with, "interested in killing or breaking Obama," and obsessed with "Obama's birth certificate and other related delusions," she is attempting to marginalize the minority national party away from the Adult's Table



    From the post IMMEDIATELY ABOVE THIS ONE on the blog

    The comment came last Friday while Senate Republicans were discussing Obama's healthcare plan. "If we're able to stop Obama on this, it will be his Waterloo. It will break him," said the senator. Now, there is speculation that that comment will hurt any chance for bipartisan support of the healthcare legislation. . .

    The "Democrat congressman" remains anonymous, but this insider's tip is quite interesting and could alter the debate. If Obama himself is this worried about his public option, Republicans and moderate Democrats are a lot less likely to support it. Maybe Obama's having second thoughts about hanging his presidency on health care reform. Here's hoping Senator DeMint has some more clever comments up his sleeve.



    Seriously, the kitchen-sinkness here is getting out of hand. Last weeks comedy was seeing side by side posts, one deriding Obama for not being honest about how bad the economy is while the other commemorated the malaise speech, and said Obama was basically doing the same thing. But this, this tops it. "Hoping for the Obama presidency to break? Why, that sir is marginalization and I won't stand for it." moments pass. "Man I hope it breaks." Editors. Do you have them?

  • Paul||

    Seward, RC Dean,

    We have a split decision. According to my judgement, Mad Max wins the thread with this:

    Defending the health bill on the grounds that Bill Kriston dodged the draft will certainly be easier than defending the bill on its own merits. So I understand Walsh's approach.

  • BakedPenguin||

    One irony is that the network that is least likely to air the president is the "public" network.

    I mean, pre-empt Barney or the fucking Antiques Roadshow? FSM Forbid!

  • Prime Time Shrugged||

    "Listen to Mr. Obama's report on the world crisis, July 22!"

    "To counteract the fears and rumors spread by the enemies of the people, Mr. Obama will address the country on July 22 and will give us a full report on the state of the world in this solemn moment of global crisis."

    "Don't forget Mr. Obama on July 22! Mr. Obama will tell you the truth!"

  • max hats||

    A presidential address?? This is just like the COMMUNISTS!!!!

  • ||

    Libertarians, on a libertarian website, mocking not only Democrats, but Republicans?

    Run for your lives!

  • ||

    Oh yeah, Invisible finger wins the thread. (and probably every thread I've ever read on this site)

    I'm still laughing as I type this.

  • PM770 sock puppet||

    He made me do it.

  • James Taggart||

    "Listen to Mr. Obama's report on the world crisis, July 22!"

    "To counteract the fears and rumors spread by the enemies of the people, Mr. Obama will address the country on July 22 and will give us a full report on the state of the world in this solemn moment of global crisis."

    "Don't forget Mr. Obama on July 22! Mr. Obama will tell you the truth!"

  • bubba||

    zomg I love "I Survived a Japanese Game Show"

  • ||

    Editors. Do you have them?



    A silly complaint at Reason, for sure, but sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander, considering all the "OMG, two people at NRO's The Corner are disagreeing with each other, one is less libertarian than the other" posts here by Reason contributors.

  • ||

    Statist c-words like her are a good argument against the 19th Amendment. Women like this literally have no idea how the world works.

  • ||

    The governor of Texas purposely appoints creationists to the school board in order to appeal to the "fringe." The way to seem sane and adult is to hold the crazies at arm's length. It is major GOP politicians who cater to creationists, GOP radio hosts who give dollops to the birthers, and GOP fund raiser who call everyone to their left a Marxist that make it seem the crazies are quite a bit more than a fringe group.

  • ||

    ...instead of just pressing the "Do Something" button.

    Progressive 'batin? How long between presses?

  • deals||

    WE know he is on the impossible task but he is a intelligent and honest person and i'm agree with him.

  • ||

    where is the hospital birth certificate ??

    why does he keep blocking it......

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