Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Keeping our eyes on the ball

Heading into his second term, President Obama laid out his agenda: a balanced approach to deficit reduction, gun violence reform, immigration reform and dealing with climate change.

So lets take a quick look at where that all stands. In January a deal to raise taxes on the wealthiest of Americans was reached. And then the sequester kicked in. We'll be dealing with all of that further this fall. But the table has been set with massive deficit reduction underway - taking away a key Republican talking point.

Yes, when it comes to gun violence reform, the bill to require background checks on all sales failed in the Senate. But just the other day, VP Biden said that there are 5 Senators who voted "no" who are now prepared to vote "yes."

Last night immigration reform passed a crucial hurdle in the Senate. Its now clear that it will pass that body and all eyes are on Speaker Boehner to see what he'll do in the House.

And today, President Obama will give a major speech outlining his approach to dealing with climate change.

Those are the facts about where we stand 6 months into President Obama's second term.

And yet, according to some in the media, you'd think his agenda was unraveling before our very eyes. Why is that? I'd suggest its because - regardless of facts - they are totally consumed with the chatter of scandal-mania and have taken their eyes off the ball when it comes to the real work of governing.

Those of us who have been watching this President closely know that he hasn't taken his eye off that ball. We've seen this movie before and know how it ends. Its time we called out the media to do their job as well.
Authority must be questioned. Those in power must be held accountable to the people they represent, and a free, aggressive press has an indispensable role to play in that mission.

But it does not serve the public good when elected and government officials, be they Democrat or Republican, are constantly presumed guilty until proven innocent. When the American people are told that every action or decision is motivated by politics or power; when every mistake or misstatement is exaggerated into an instance of Nixonian malfeasance; when the line between impassioned advocacy and objective reporting ceases to exist, it does nothing but erode an already-fragile faith in our democratic institutions.

Many in the press have called for a national debate on privacy and security. And in the coming weeks, issues like climate change, immigration, and any number of controversial Supreme Court decisions will be added to the list. But national debates don’t just require a willing public, President, and Congress—they require a willing press that is able to report with a sense of nuance, patience, and perspective.


  1. Thank you Smartpants. We need to be reminded occasionally. The media everyday. I'm writing to NBC, MTP, MSNBC, about what Chuck Todd said. (He used the neutered word) I was very offended. The press is a major hurdle.

  2. Complexity is hard to boil down to a soundbite, but I'll try an example: LBJ caused millions to die in South-East Asia and empowered millions with civil rights legislation; as a nation we are now celebrating the wrong part of his legacy — but we can change that.

    Yeah, I know, the "millions" in Vietnam were overwhelmingly not American, that's another issue we need to face, acknowledge and address. (The memorial in D.C. is moving, and appropriate, but only addresses a tiny percentage of the dead.) Does the press have the ability to frame climate change as a global issue? Does the American public have the sophistication to see it that way? I hope so ... but it's not looking good right now.

  3. http://www.thedailybeast.com/articles/2013/06/24/when-journalists-attack.html
    Masterful post by Jon Favreau, former PBO speechwriter. Dont miss it.