Obama: A Little League Socialist

Here was the headline on HuffPo on Wednesday afternoon:

Jay Carney: Don’t ‘Buy Into The B.S.’ From GOP About Obama’s Spending Record

That story began:

WASHINGTON — White House Press Secretary Jay Carney had some advice for reporters on Wednesday when it comes to covering President Barack Obama’s record on spending: “Don’t buy into the B.S.” 

And then there was this headline from ABC News on Wednesday evening:

President Obama Denounces Republican ‘Wild Debts’: I’m Not an Over-Spender

Obama was quoted in the story:

I’m running to pay down our debt in a way that’s balanced and responsible. After inheriting a $1 trillion deficit, I signed $2 trillion of spending cuts into law. My opponent won’t admit it, but it’s starting to appear in places, like real liberal outlets, like the Wall Street Journal: Since I’ve been president, federal spending has risen at the lowest pace  in nearly 60 years. Think about that.

What was all the fuss about? What was Obama referencing? It was the following, from The Wall Street Journal’s Market Watch early Wednesday morning:

Obama spending binge never happened

Commentary: Government outlays rising at slowest pace since 1950s

Here’s how the story began:

As would-be president Mitt Romney tells it: “I will lead us out of this debt and spending inferno.”

Almost everyone believes that Obama has presided over a massive increase in federal spending, an “inferno” of spending that threatens our jobs, our businesses and our children’s future. Even Democrats seem to think it’s true.

But it didn’t happen. Although there was a big stimulus bill under Obama, federal spending is rising at the slowest pace since Dwight Eisenhower brought the Korean War to an end in the 1950s.

Now, we have discussed all this several times, but here is yet another graph from the WSJ piece to refresh your memory:

As you can plainly see, Obama is in the Little League of federal spending growth (and, by the way, so was Bill Clinton; the Big Leaguers, Reagan and both Bushes should all be in the spending Hall of Fame).

Let’s face it, being a Little League spender ain’t good for a President who is night and day labeled by right-wingers as at least a socialist, if not a secret Communist who will, if given a second term, unleash his diabolical European fury on the country.

Joe Scarborough blathered on this morning about how “government keeps getting bigger and bigger and bigger” and referenced “the explosive size of government.”

Well, if that is true—and don’t forget that federal revenues as a percentage of our GDP in the Obama years is lower than any time since 1950 and state and local revenues have been fairly consistent since 1990—it is not Barack Obama who has made it so.

He is simply the dubious beneficiary of policies the basis of which relied on voodoo economics: cut taxes and, voilà, the economy and government revenues will grow, grow, grow enough to pay for two protracted wars, a brand new—ever growing—Homeland Security bureaucracy, a new prescription drug entitlement program, as well as the rest of what government does.

Let’s quickly look at federal spending since 2002, also from the WSJ article:

Clearly those blue lines were dictated by the red lines that came before and not some devilish creation of that wicked, big-spending socialist in the White’s House.

So, as Jay Carney said, don’t “buy into the B.S.” because, as the President said himself:

Grizzly Baier Versus Teddy Baier

I have seen Bret Baier’s “news” hour many times.  It’s normally a platform where conservative advocacy can get all dressed up and pretend it’s real journalism.  It’s not.

But tonight I watched Bret Baier’s interview of President Obama and I have read the transcripts.  The truth is I thought Baier did a pretty good job of interviewing the president.  Really, I did.

Sure, he interrupted him repeatedly and often unnecessarily, attempting to force Obama to answer the questions the way Baier wanted him to.  But he didn’t want Obama to give him unresponsive, evasive answers.  He tried to zero in on some points of contention that many on the right-wing have frequently made, and he wanted Obama to provide answers to those points.  (I am sure that the right-wing is ecstatic over the interview, probably certifying Baier as a first-class, Fox “News” kind of journalist, if you know what I mean.)

But the problem with Baier’s interview of Obama was not his aggressive approach;  it is just that I have never before seen him be so aggressive against anyone on the right, say, George Bush II for instance, whom Baier interviewed in December, 2008. 

The truth is that Baier is simply not a bi-partisan journalist.

I challenge anyone to compare the transcript of Baier’s interview of Obama, which can be found here, with the transcript of his interview of an outgoing George Bush, which can be found here.  You will notice many interruptions of Obama, very few of George Bush.  You will find many leading questions of Obama, and almost all, “what is your opinion,” “how do you feel” types of questions of Bush.

You would think that after eight years of a problematic and controversial presidency, that ended with Bush being about as unpopular as possible, that Baier would have some serious charges to fire off at him.

How about, for instance, a question about spending and non-taxing the country into bankruptcy, Bret? Nope.

You will find that Teddy Baier tossed softball after softball to the former president in a journalistically pitiful performance. But to be fair, had Baier questioned Bush the way he did Obama, the people on the right who are praising Baier today would have demanded his head then.

Now, as far as the Obama interview, Grizzly Baier came at him with high and inside pitches, designed to back him away from the plate, the way journalists should question our public officials, as long as those journalists are not engaged in advocacy while doing so. 

Certainly, Baier works for a right-wing network and his audience is made up mostly of hard-core conservatives (which is what made Baier’s use of the e-mails he received from Fox viewers troubling and close to advocacy).  And naturally his questions were designed to make Obama squirm, if not provoke him into a gaffe of some kind.

But  I don’t have a problem with making politicians squirm.  I just wish conservative politicians would have to squirm on Fox “News.”  But they don’t.  They go there to get rubbed down by mink-gloved fellow-travellers.  Fox journalists wait until someone left of Sean Hannity appears on the network so they can apply their reporting skills.

Here are a couple of samples from the Obama and Bush transcripts, both interviews conducted by Bret Baier. Notice the confrontational approach to Obama and the no-controversy, no-confrontation approach to Bush.  Toward Obama, Baier was acting as a journalist; toward Bush he was acting as a right-wing patsy:

BAIER: Couple more process things, quickly.

You said a few times as Senator Obama that if a president has to eke out a victory of 50 plus one, that on something as important as health care, “you can’t govern.” But now you’re embracing a 50 plus one reconciliation process in the Senate, so do you feel like you can govern after this?

OBAMA: Well, Bret, the — I think what we’ve seen during the course of this year is that we have come up with a bill that basically tracks the recommendations of Tom Daschle, former Democratic senator and leader, but also Bob Dole, former Republican leader, Howard Baker, former Republican leader. The ideas embodied in this legislation are not left, they’re not right, they are — they are —

BAIER: I understand what you’re — I know you don’t like to talk about process, but there are a lot of questions in these 18,000 that talk about process.

OBAMA: I understand being —


BAIER: And there are a lot of people around America that have a problem with this process.

OBAMA: Bret, I —

BAIER: You called it an ugly process just last month.

OBAMA: I’ve got to tell — I’ve got to say to you, there are a lot more people who are concerned about the fact that they may be losing their house or going bankrupt because of health care.

BAIER: OK, so we have —

OBAMA: And so — so the — look —

BAIER: Deem and passed, Senate reconciliation and we don’t know exactly what’s in the fix bill. Do you still think —

OBAMA: No, we will — by the time the vote has taken place, not only I will know what’s in it, you’ll know what’s in it because it’s going to be posted and everybody’s going to be able to able to evaluate it on the merits.

But here’s the thing, Bret, I mean, the reason that I think this conversation ends up being a little frustrating is because the focus entirely is on Washington process. And yes, I have said that is an ugly process. It was ugly when Republicans were in charge, it was ugly were in Democrats were in charge.

BAIER: This is one-sixth of the U.S. economy, though, sir. One-sixth.

OBAMA: And, Bret, let me tell you something, the fact of the matter is that for the vast majority of people, their health care is not going to change because right now they’re getting a better deal. The only thing that is going to change for them is is that they’re going to have more security under their insurance and they’re going to have a better situation when it comes to if they lose their job, heaven forbid, or somebody gets sick with a preexisting condition, they’ll have more security. But, so—so—

BAIER: So how can you —

OBAMA: — the notion that —

BAIER: — guarantee that they’re not going to —

OBAMA: — so but —

BAIER: — they’re going to be able to keep their doctor —

OBAMA: Bret, you’ve got to let me finish my answers —

BAIER: Sir, I know you don’t like to filibuster, but —

OBAMA: Well, I’m trying to answer your question and you keep on interrupting…

December 17, 2008

BRET BAIER: Today you were talking about keeping America safe. Do you believe that there hasn’t been a terrorist attack on U.S. soil in more than seven years because of the policies your administration has implemented?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: I believe that we’ve got a lot of brave men and women who are keeping the pressure on the enemy. I– I know we’ve got a lot of people that are listening– for signs of attack. And I– I– yeah, I believe the policies that we worked with Congress– on to better protect America are paying off. Now, the problem is, is that there’s still an enemy and they still wanna attack. And– but we have been successful, thanks to a lot of people.

BRET BAIER: I mean, you’ve heard the critics of the administration [my emphasis] who say the policies on interrogation techniques were– amounted to torture. And the policies– for surveillance amounted to illegal wiretapping. And that–


BRET BAIER: America’s image was hurt around the world. And that made us less safe.


BRET BAIER: How do you respond now, looking back to all of that?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH:  Well– I would respond and say that– we always stay within the law, that we consulted with members of Congress, and that we have an obligation to put tools in place– so the future Presidents can better protect the country…


BRET BAIER: Do you worry at all that the incoming administration will undo some of the things that you say have kept America safe?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Well, I think the incoming administration’s gonna have to fully analyze the risks and the tools and– come to their own conclusion…


BRET BAIER: What’s your take on President-elect Obama’s national security team?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Solid. Solid team. I mean, for example, Secretary Gates, he’s a– I know him well. I trust him. I admire him. He’s agreed to– stay on at the President-elect Obama’s request. And– I’m impressed.

BRET BAIER:  Is that comforting to you?

PRESIDENT GEORGE BUSH: Well, it’s impressive to me…

A stunning contrast, but given who it was and where it was, not the least bit surprising.

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