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FRED BARNES: Obama’s Enablers – The Weekly Standard

August 28, 2011

Obama’s Enablers

Meet the mainstream media.

SEP 5, 2011, VOL. 16, NO. 47 • BY FRED BARNESSingle PagePrintLarger TextSmaller TextAlerts

As a rule, the press is the scourge of presidents. They’re expected to endure unending scrutiny, mistrust, and badgering—plus hostility if they’re Republicans—by a hectoring herd of reporters and commentators in the mainstream media. But there’s an exception to the rule: President Obama.

It’s counterintuitive, but Obama has been hurt by the media’s leniency. Both his presidency and reelection prospects have suffered. He’s grown lazy and complacent. The media have encouraged him to believe his speeches are irresistible political catnip, though they aren’t. His overreliance on words hasn’t helped.

The kind of media pressure that can cause a president to sharpen his game, act with urgency, or take bolder steps—that has never been applied to Obama. If it had, I suspect he’d be a more effective, disciplined, energetic, and popular president today. Ronald Reagan is a good role model in this regard. When the media attacked him over gaffes in the 1980 campaign, “Reagan responded like all competitive men by working to improve himself,” says Reagan historian Craig Shirley. “Experience taught him to be better and try harder.” He took this lesson into the White House.

I don’t want to exaggerate the media’s baneful influence on Obama. It’s hardly the main reason for his decline. It’s a secondary reason, and it continues to have an impact.

Absent pushing and prodding by the press, the Obama presidency has atrophied. His speeches are defensive and repetitive and filled with excuses. He passes the buck. With persistently high unemployment and a weak economy, Obama recently declared, in effect, “I have a plan. See you after my vacation.” The press doesn’t goad him to lead.

via Obama’s Enablers | The Weekly Standard.

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One Comment
  1. August 29, 2011 8:42 AM

    I disagree with Fred Barnes. Chris Matthews, on Hardball, has said clearly that Obama has become a weak leader. On Meet the Press and CNN, Donna Brazile has stated more than once that the president has not shown leadership. As I recall it as the media who pressed Obama to fire General McChrystal after a damaging article in Rolling Stone about the general’s views of the president and the administration. There have been repeated comments about Obama’s “leading from behind” policy in Libya.

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