Howard Kurtz Doesn't Seem To Understand Why Liberals Might Be Disappointed In President Obama

I don't know if it's just me, but Howard Kurtz seemed to be a bit puzzled during this panel segment on Reliable Sources as to why liberals like Thomas Frank might be disappointed with President Obama and the legislation he's managed to get passed
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I don't know if it's just me, but Howard Kurtz seemed to be a bit puzzled during this panel segment on Reliable Sources as to why liberals like Thomas Frank might be disappointed with President Obama and the legislation he's managed to get passed during his first two years in office. I think Frank summed it up pretty nicely during the little time he was allowed to speak during this segment.

FRANK: That's true and look what he just did the other day. I mean, it's a great accomplishment. He did get something done with health care. I mean, it was -- it was the constant selling out earlier in the process, remember, of negotiating with the Rs, and then the Rs walked away from the table.

Sadly Frank wasn't allowed to elaborate any further during this part of their discussion before Kurtz turned the topic to Sarah Palin and we got more nonsense instead from the other panelists about whether the media has given the president good press coverage and why, whether they've sold their legislative accomplishments to the public well enough and other similar talking points.

What Kurtz and the other talking heads in the media don't seem to understand is that it is possible to appreciate what Obama has managed to get passed in this extremely hostile legislative environment while at the same time being upset that he hasn't used his bully pulpit to push for a more liberal agenda.

I realize fully that in this community we’ve got a range of views from Obama being a complete sellout and he’s as bad as or worse than George Bush with his policy positions to those who are still supportive of the President and who think he’s doing the best he can given the Congress he’s dealing with.

Personally, I’m in the camp where I’m upset with how he’s done business and that he has shown way too much deference to Big Business, and hasn’t done enough to undo the policies that we saw under Bush, with everything from rendition to continuing our occupations overseas to the spying, and to our ridiculous continuation of this “war on terror” -- which looks to me like an excuse to drop bombs on poor people’s heads rather than address the economic conditions that cause people to resort to terrorism in the first place.

That said, I’m also enough of a pragmatist to realize that for him to get anything done, he was going to have to work with Republicans and “conservative” or rather corporate Democrats in the Congress. I admit as Thomas Frank did here that he has gotten a lot of good legislation passed which is not easy to do given the Congress he’s been forced to work with. And as legitimate as the reasons are for anyone being upset with him, he’s still not as terrible as John McCain and Sarah Palin would have been had they been elected instead. If those war mongers had been elected, we’d be asking whether we should have bombed Iran or not by now and not how many troops we should be pulling out of Iraq and Afghanistan.

The sad fact of the matter is that if President Obama did go full out and attack Republicans for how terrible they are and how they’ve governed, then he’d have to be going after the likes of Jane Harman, Ben Nelson, Max Baucus, and a host of others bad actors in the Democratic Party.

Given how badly our system is broken with the corruption right now I wonder if a true reformer would actually manage to get anything done, or just find themselves a target for an assassination plot if the powers that be had enough of them.

The issue I still see all of us going back and forth about is whether President Obama is a deal maker who’s doing what he has to in order to move a liberal agenda forward even if it’s slowly in this political environment, or if he’s just another Republican calling himself a Democrat who doesn’t care about the working class.

I think for all of us the question has to be how to clean up the system and what do we do from here to put enough pressure on all of these politicians to do the right thing, President Obama included? We can argue about why he’s governed in the manner he has, but the bigger question is that if we aren’t happy about it, what do we do about it? I think we need to be taking to the streets and organizing which is the only thing that has worked when the public has had enough of the status quo.

Transcript via CNN with some corrections made.

KURTZ: Well, it's one of the questions we need to chronicle. When you look back, Amy Holmes, at Obama over the last year -- he had a tough year; no question about it, the successes since the shellacking aside. Did the media kind of turn on him as his poll numbers sunk, and the coverage got more negative?

HOLMES: Indeed they did. And actually listening to this conversation I was thinking one of the big pieces of this is how the media follows the polls. And if the president is up, his coverage tends to be more positive. If the president's numbers are down, then the president -- or sorry, the press becomes a lot more aggressive in asking him to explain himself.

Also, Barrack Obama's year was such a mixed bag. He had huge legislative successes. He did pass "Obama-care" after all, even thought it was on a purely partisan basis. But we also saw "Obama- care's" sinking in popularity, and of course the shellacking at the mid-term.

But when you went through that -- that preview -- or sorry, intro of back and forth and back and forth, it was like watching a tennis game. And so much of it was it seems the press's herd mentality in following one story sort of lurching from week to week. And now their back in love.

KURTZ: But on these legislative victories, Thomas -- Thomas Frank, and I don't know if they were back in love, but certainly president getting better press in the last few weeks as he has piled up some victories in this lame duck session.

But the passage of health care, the passage of financial reform, it always seemed to me that when it finally happened, it became a one day story, and the press didn't really give the president credit for what he had accomplished, whether you happen to agree with those proposals or not.

FRANK: Whether they gave him credit or not? Look, I'm one of the -- I guess I would be one of the people that turned on Obama pretty early; although that's a harsh way to put it. I mean, I -- I had a lot of, you know, hope.

I had a lot of hope for the guy way back when. And he has been a sort of -- an off and on disappointment to me, you know, speaking as the -- as the sort of the -- the big liberal at the table. He has been a big disappointment for me over the over the course of the last couple of years.

And, you know, but none of this has been a surprise.

KURTZ: But even if he's been a big disappointment, but to talk about the way you would write about him, or the way your -- your friends on the left would write about him. Big disappointment who nevertheless got a lot of stuff done that liberals like.

FRANK: That's true and look what he just did the other day. I mean, it's a great accomplishment. He did get something done with health care. I mean, it was -- it was the constant selling out earlier in the process, remember, of negotiating with the Rs, and then the Rs walked away from the table.

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: ... White House communications. I've said this in the past on this show, is that he had these wonderful legislative victories for the liberals. And yet the White House doesn't say, hey, look, hey, look what we did. And it gets lost.

ROBERTS: Well, this is a very odd conversation to be having. That somehow he has disappointed the liberals when the conventional wisdom around Washington for years has been that the press is all liberal and they're too -- and they coddle Democrats.

The truth is that what the press does is they are always in favor of a good story, and against who is ever in power. That's the way news rooms work in this city. And it worked against Obama -- for Obama when he was a candidate. It worked against him once he became president.

KURTZ: Well, it certainly wasn't the case...

(CROSSTALK)

ASHBURN: ... about redemption. We're also about redemption...

(CROSSTALK)

KURTZ: It certainly wasn't the case in the opening months of his administration.

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