Sunday, June 13, 2010

The Press Falls Out of Love with Obama

It isn't quite the same thing as losing the Mandate of Heaven (see my posts here and here and here ) , but, for Barack Obama, losing the press must count as very bad news indeed.

As Bernard Goldberg argued, and as Neo-neocon explains in her new piece (link here), the press fell madly in love with Barack Obama. The press was besotted with Obama; it thrilled to his touch and his attention; it happily overlooked all of his flaws, faults, and foibles.

As Neo-neocon explains, Obama was their dream come true, the realization of their most deeply held ideals. Through Obama their own Jerusalem would descend to the earth and the world would be transformed. After all, isn't that what true love is really about.

In her article Neo emphasized that when the press started losing faith in Obama, when it started falling out of love with him, it was not the same thing as feeling disappointed in the way George Bush mishandled Hurricane Katrina.

Since most media mavens did not believe in Bush in the first place, his mistakes with the aftermath of Katrina simply proved them right. As Barack Obama reveals himself not to be the man they expected him to be, their most cherished beliefs are being threatened. And if these journalists and commentators have defined themselves according to their beliefs, the loss is extreme.

Why is the press falling out of love with Obama. According to Neo, he has been a neglectful lover. The press feels taken for granted by a president who has been unwilling to schmooze, and who has held far fewer press briefings than his predecessors. It must feel that he is mocking their love, saying that they are so head-over-heels that they will love him no matter what.

Second, Obama faced with a crisis is not providing what the press had hoped to see: a new, more competent and more effective form of leadership. He is simply not leading at all.

As Neo points out, romance involves a dynamic relationship between the pursuer and the pursued. When you are being pursued by an avid lover, you need to know how to keep some, but not too much, distance.

If you are too distant, your pursuer will eventually give up his pursuit. If you are too close, your pursuer will feel pursued and will be turned off.

The second reason the press is falling out of love with Obama is simply that he is not the leader it expected him to be. Neo explains that the press had concocted a vision of a new, more competent, more effective leader. Instead, it is seeing a man who does not know how to lead.

The dean of the Washington press corps, David Broder, wrote that the Gulf gusher was not Obama's Katrina, it was his Iranian hostage crisis. For sheer ineptitude, for looking like a pitiful helpless giant, Obama is resembling Jimmy Carter.

Strangely enough, the great thinkers who fill the pages of newspapers, magazines, and blogs do not know that the qualities that make you a great lover do not also make you a great leader, a great manager, a great fighter, or a great diplomat.

But what happens when you fall out of love with someone. At the least, it produces a very complex and extremely unpleasant form of demoralization. It is not simply that your beloved has betrayed your love. Worse yet, you will wake up one day and discover that you have betrayed your principles and compromised your integrity for a chimera. Beyond the disappointment, Neo notes, the press will also have to deal with its "embarrassment."

Only one question remains: will the press use its embarrassment to reconsider its own integrity and return to reporting the news, or will it continue to sacrifice its journalistic integrity on the altar of its ideals.


vanderleun said...

As I remarked at Neo's, just because you use whores doesn't mean you respect them or want to hang out with them.

Ralph said...

It never dawns on those who do not study great men and women that many times they also have great faults.

I don't think the press loved or loves him as much as they were (are)infatuated with the idea of what an Obama presidency would look like and mean and how they would be part of it.

The press predestined Obama to greatness, or scripted what they wanted him to be. Could it possibly be dawning on them that they are merely scorekeepers, or accountants, not managers or even players?