Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Bring On the Big Lie

Pretending to be a writer/journalist seems not to be high on Michael Gerson's list of ways to inveigle his audience into sharing his dislike of President Obama. Gerson once again today has proved he has an agenda, and it is slander of the President.

The discussion at Dan Froomkin's chat with readers gives a terrific synopsis, so I will cite that instead of laying out the facts and events myself. Since I have unashamedly borrowed from him, I have inserted the links that Froomkin used, as well.

Hamilton, Ontario: What is your take on Gerson's column today saying that Obama is the most polarizing president? Isn't this a sign of a preferred tactic by Bush loyalists: tar the other guy with their own defects? Gerson: The Most Polarizing President (I do not recommend your giving Gerson any hits by clicking this.)

Dan Froomkin: On the one hand, there's little disputing the numbers. According to Pew Research Center: "Barack Obama has the most polarized early job approval ratings of any president in the past four decades. The 61-point partisan gap in opinions about Obama's job performance is the result of a combination of high Democratic ratings for the president -- 88% job approval among Democrats -- and relatively low approval ratings among Republicans (27%)."

But that doesn't mean Obama is polarizing.

Indeed, as Greg Sargent has blogged on, Pew's own polling director says that would be a misreading.

Michael Dimock, Pew's associate director, told Sargent that the divide is driven by long term trends and by the uncommonly enthusiastic reaction to Obama by members of his own party.

"Dimock also said this phenomenon is partly caused by the recent tendency of Republicans to be less charitable towards new Presidents than Dems have been."
Re: Poll Numbers: Couldn't the apparent "polarization" also be due to a large number of people who used to call themselves Republicans now identifying as independents and Democrats? Haven't a lot of the people who might have approved of, say, Clinton in April of 1993 left the party?

Dan Froomkin: And that is a very good point indeed. The "polarization" could in fact be a function of the Republican party dwindling into a ferociously right-wing regional party, defined mostly by its opposition to a popular Democratic president.

Of course the Republicans will complain that fewer people identifying Republican simply means they're being underrepresented in the polls.

There is any amount of evidence of the rightwing using the pretense of journalism to make political hay, but Gerson's record really precludes him from any berth in respectability. He has been appearing depressingly regularly in gatherings that pretend to be journalistic, while promoting a completely political mantra.

Looking back to the campaign, he was among the loudest voices making totally false claim that now-President Obama was 'the most liberal Senator'. Of course, that would have recommended him to me, but the use of this label was total fabrication. Virtual Tin Cup had a very nice expose here:

Before we get to the specifics of Gerson's column (which I would urge you all to read in full by clicking the link), I would note that this column is eerily reminiscent of a discussion highlighted by Crooks & Liars between right-wing blabbermouths Stephen Hayes and Tony Blankley and Rachel Maddow.

The Bizarro-World of the punditocracy has the world so shifted askew that in their view, John McCain, who has voted with President Bush 95% of the time in 2007 and 100% of the time in 2008 is a bipartisan who reaches across the aisle and Barack Obama, who has only the 40th most liberal voting record, is a flaming liberal with no record of working on a bipartisan basis, despite co-sponsoring legislation with ultra-right wingers Tom Coburn and Dick Lugar.

The best part of the piece at C&L comes in a quick-quote from Maddow:

MADDOW: Let me ask you though, in 2004, that “National Journal” poll, who did they say was the most liberal senator in 2004?
HAYES: I don‘t know.
MADDOW: It would be John Kerry.

For those who may not have clicked the link, or are incapable of following along, the National Journal, a conservative magazine, used faulty methods and data to claim that Sen. Barack Obama had the most liberal voting record in the United States Senate, beating out Russ Feingold of Wisconsin, whose only competition on the far left in that body is socialist Bernie Sanders of Vermont.
My frustration with crap like this is based not on the label "liberal", but on the fact that Gerson has managed to pen an entire column based upon falsehoods.

He needs to be removed from The Washington Post. Perhaps, in a sane universe, he wouldn't be there in the first place.

The use of unabashed liars by WaPo is increasingly militating against its place among eminent news organs. The admission finally that George Will had falsified the facts he used to 'prove' that global warming isn't happening is a bright spot in an otherwise dimmed record for that once great paper.

It's no longer worthwhile to look to the WaPo Opinions section except for Dan Froomkin, and a select few, for anything unbiased; the occasional reputable op-ed from outside WaPo staff makes it worth checking there for value.

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