02 December 2009

The White House vs. Politico

David Kuhn of the indispensable RCP blog has a fantastic analysis of the Obama administration's newest war of choice -- on Politico.

The White House's assault against Fox News has been well-chronicled and doesn't really merit mention here, because Politico is quite different. In this era of partisan journalism -- which began with Dan Rather and the New York Times editorial board, and has spiraled out of control to the point where virtually every news outlet presents news slanted in some identifiable way -- Politico actually stands out as one of the last bastions of tough, independent reporting. To be sure, a few of Politico's bloggers cover the lighter side of Washington. But its reporting is fair, and its analysis top-notch. During the campaign, Ben Smith and Jonathan Martin's blogs following the Obama and McCain campaigns, respectively, were daily must-reads.

In my book, Politico sits squarely with the likes of Bob Woodward and John King -- tough, unaffiliated and with no ax to grind. The administration's attack of it -- along with its war on Fox News, the striking decline of the president's poll numbers, and the public backlash against the Democratic Party's signature initiatives -- paint a portrait of a president who is simply losing control.

Furthermore, RCP's Kuhn is spot on with his analysis. The Obama campaign team wrote the book on narratives. And once elected, more so than any administration in modern history, even Reagan's, the Obama team has carefully crafted the image of the president the public sees at virtually every turn. Obama was swept into office on the back of this nonsensical post-partisan narrative, and by the platitudes of change and hope repeated ad nauseum in rallies, in ads and at debates. Without the help of narratives, it's likely Obama wouldn't even have won the Democratic nomination.

We've written here before that the luster has clearly worn off. At this juncture, the president would be wise to cease these firefights against news organizations and simply worry about governing.

That alone has given him enough trouble.

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