Right after the President's speech yesterday, John Cole wrote this:
As good of an idea as it is, the merits of the plan will never be discussed. Ever. That just isn’t how our media rolls- it’s right there in the second paragraph. All Republicans will have to do is dismiss this as an “election year stunt,” and the ground has already been readied by the Politico and elsewhere by calling the WH desperate, and our media will go into full-on horse-race mode.
And of course, he's right. Here, watch this little snippet from yesterday's speech again. It's short, but entertaining:
Of course, John Boehner comes straight out of the gate with this:
Republicans have targeted an unemployment rate that continues to hover above 9 percent despite last year's economic stimulus plan. "If we've learned anything from the past 18 months, it's that we can't spend our way to prosperity," Boehner said.
When Forbes bloggers even come down hard with the criticism, maybe it's time for Republicans to rethink that knee-jerk thing.
The GOP’s constant kneejerk rejection of economic ideas simply for the sake of Saying No has as much to do with our current malaise as anything being done wrong in the White House. The newly-minted fiscal conservatives on the Republican side of the aisle, many of whom are themselves responsible for the $3 trillion and counting Iraq War, are like the old men in the Muppet Show who heckle from the balcony.
It’s naysaying for naysaying’s sake at this point and I hope voters will remember that their favorite Republican All-Stars are equally complicit in the crime that is 15 million unemployed 3 years into a recession.
Obama's proposal and Boehner's rejection aren't really news. It's been thus from day one, when Republicans decided the best they could do would be to simply obstruct. But now it has an added dimension: It plays straight into the current horserace narrative, and the press could not wait to jump right on that bandwagon, just like John Cole predicted.
Huffington Post predicts a bloodbath. Washington Post eagerly reinforces their ongoing theme that Republicans are making headway and will contend in November. MSNBC informs us there's a clear GOP advantage this November. The Christian Science Monitor breathlessly asks "Can the GOP dominate in November with 'Just Say No?'", and The Hill warns that unions will be aggressive even after Republicans win in November. Yahoo News even jumped onto the bandwagon.
There's a theme here. Flash back with me to February, 2008. Check out the headlines. If you alter the search terms from "Clinton leads" to "McCain can win", you get results like this. I love that first headline, don't you? October 29, 2008, just a couple of days ahead of the election, and the headline from the Seattle Times and others around the country is "McCain can still win..." Just for more fun, look at the news results for August-September 2008 when Palin came onboard -- she was a "game-changer".
I don't know what's going to happen in November, but I do know it's ridiculous to rely upon corporate media (and yes, that includes the Huffington Post at this point, since they aggregate corporate media sources). They are looking for the horserace and the rout because that's what they do. They don't bother with any serious analysis or honest looks at the issues, because that doesn't get clicks. We're wired to look at politics like it's college football -- pick your favorite team and cheer it to victory. Who cares if they lie, cheat and steal to get there, as long as they get there, after all?
So here's a reminder for why it's important to stay aware and ignore all the media narratives that everyone from Fox to Huffpost are addicted to. This campaign has just begun. It's far too early to choose the winner.