It was one of about 200 headlines recently associating Obama with the oil spill. The news media is at its worst when it takes a very complex topic like this spill and over-simplifies it into a referendum on Obama and tries to assess the extent to which he should be blamed for the whole spill.
So, let me get this straight: Barack Obama has been responsible for the economic disaster he inherited; the flawed, ugly process that produced the economic stimulus package that economists were urging him to get passed; the flaws in the stimulus package itself; the failure of some of the nation's largest banks and financial institutions; the bailout of those institutions; the federal government's intervention to help the auto industry; the bailout of General Motors and the size of federal assistance to the other auto giants; all of the negative aspects of passing a health care reform bill; the increase to the federal debt, the immigration problem....and on and on and on.........
Yes, I'm still rooting for Obama, but I am a realist. I recognize his flaws and mistakes, particularly his handling of the lengthy health care reform debate before the bill finallly passed. However, I'm sick and tired of too many people and organized interests (like Republicans and irrational right-wingers) blaming Obama for everything under the sun. It's ridicolous. It's crazy. It's unfair.
I have not followed the oil spill crisis in much detail, but, I know that if one scans the scope and breadth of media coverage and commentary, it suggests that the President had a much more significant level of personal responsibility for the chain of events than, in fact, he did. I can accept that the Administration could have done more in the days or weeks following the spill. I do not accept that the national coverage and analysis of this spill should be focused so much on Obama. It was not about the President. Obama was not out there letting the oil leak into the Gulf of Mexico and he cannot act like "SuperMan" and go clean it up. The media comments appear to suggest Obama had his hands all over this incident. It's a joke.
This is the news media that had a full year of knowing that the Bush Administration planned to invade Iraq and start an unjustifiable war - and to do so with blatantly false statements about its reasons - and chose to not seek and share the truth with the American people. So, in that instance, the media allowed Bush officials to keep making false links between Saddam Hussein and Al Qaeda.
During Obama's tenure, it seems, the news media is still lazy, but has grown far more critical about the President's role and performance than with Bush. The media eventually misleadingly framed the economic stimulus package vote as a simple choice whether to expand the role of the federal government and approve a lot of federal spending. It was not portrayed as much as the real, unique, complicated vote it was - an attempt to follow the advice of econmists to pour federal money into the economy.
Likewise, the Obama administration's moves to intervene in the auto industry or take over banks or move against AIG were later characterized by Republicans as efforts to enhance the role of the federal government. Well, that's poppycock and more journalists and people should be calling out these Republicans for spouting these reckless charges.
So, what has all this wild, inaccurate dialogue done for us? It has helped lead us to pre-election news coverage that is so misleading and simplistic. If one watches TV talk shows, one might get the impression that Democrats support more federal government involvement and spending and Republicans don't. But, it ain't that simple -- at all!!!! For example, the Republicans have offered very, very little in substantive proposals since Obama's election. All they've done is tear Obama down. Have they been held accountable? Not really. Only a tiny, tiny bit. The Republicans have played an enormous role in preventing progress on legislation and in tainting or damaging the image of the Obama administration.
The problem is the media seems to have little or no interest in holding any US Congressmen accountable for their actions. So, the rest of us are left with cheap rhetoric and lies to sort out. So, when the congressional committees have wrestled with financial regulatory reform matters, for instance, all I know is that partisan differences have blocked progress. I'd like to know who has done what to block what -- but, in today's superficial media world, all you get is sound bites and empty rhetoric. Why else do I see Sarah Palin on the cover of my Newsweek again this week? She's covered like she's one of the most serious, important, thoughtful leaders in the world -- a person who we all must be informed about. Yeah right! Palin has not earned any of this. She's a shallow, irresponsible, over-rated woman who completed one term in Alaska to a mixed response. Then, she gave one speech at the Republican convention (reading a script of simple lines to feed the crowd) but, she was labled as a "phenomenon." Then, we witnessed her making a fool out of herself on the campaign trail. She spouted lies, recklessly painted Obama as an "unpatriotic outsider" and revealed herself to not know enough about national affairs to qualify as a vice presidential candidate, but, that didn't stop the media. They still cover Palin because she helps sell newsmagazines or TV ratings.
Well, maybe it helps ratings to constantly poll people about how Obama has handled the oil spill, but, I, for one, not only do not accept this distorted line of coverage, but I object all the coverage.
I wish journalists would return to the traditional role of telling the truth and letting the facts help us know who's accountable....but, instead, the media have ripped Obama for not displaying enough anger in response to the oil spill. They've second-guessed an array of daily actions or omissions by the Obama administration. Again, it was as if Obama had been out on the scene in the Gulf of Mexico for weeks and just disregarded it all. It was easier to frame it that way than to describe the complexities -- many of them not easy or entertaining to explain. Historian Douglas Brinkley told Newsweek that he felt Obama needed a "bullhorn moment" like Bush had in the rubble of the World Trade Center after 9/11.
It's not an easy time to be President. Particularly when you happen to be black, and, unfortunately, many more ignorant, misguided or bigoted people make matters harder than they'd be otherwise. I'm just tired of people blaming Obama for everything. He's made mistakes, but, he's done some good things, and he's smart and energetic and tackling every problem he can.
So, I urge the news media to lower expectations for Obama and raise them for Sarah Palin. Just tell the truth and we'll all be better off.