Wednesday, February 11, 2009

The poiltical press' response to President Obama

As I have said before, as a sociologist I am often more interested in how people react to something than the something in general. For instance, President Obama's first days in office and his attempts to reach across the isle to Republicans, his first press conference, his first anything. Well, I think to myself, okay, he still looks presidential, he seems to be doing his best to keep doing what he promised, (I'm not crazy about the stimulus package), but what is more interesting is to read and listen to the political talking heads.

So many political wags seem to think that President Obama's attempt to woe Republicans was a waste. He got nothing for it. Not a single Republican in the House voted for the plan and only three did in the Senate and the plan got lots trimmed from it (stuff I thought was actually good to have in the bill).

I guess what gets me is that these supposedly politically savvy reporters know little about basic group dynamics. So, when President Obama gets no takers on the Republican side does that make President Obama a bad politician or are the Repbulican's dumb? Depends on the perspective of the reporter/blogger/wag. The libs think the Republicans are dummies and the cons think President Obama isn't as good as people think.

What does this say about the entire pundit industry? Should we really beleive that the partisanship in Washington is just a matter of a lack of informal bonhomie? President Bush tried the barbecue attack, he gave up when it didn't yeild anything. Him, Ithink thought there was no principal in any of this. I hope President Obama doesn't think he can do the back slapping, buy you a couple of beers and now you'll vote the way I want you to....I hope that isn't who I voted for. yet, that seems to be what many political reporters view politics as. Or, that the "charm offensive" isn't good enough or is silly.

I don't know what I think. I've never been much on charm offensives but I am big on communiation. Without huge majorities in both houses of congress, a president has to be a broker/organizer. he has to put a coalition together, and in the Senate, he has to have some Republicans. This is how pork gets into bills. This is how bills get altered in order to bring just a couple of people in.

This is how the game is played. Why do we (and political reportes) seem to lament this.

And don't we want our politicians to be principaled? Many times our pols vote in odd ways because they are afraid of voting against popular bills, lest it cost them in the next election. Okay, the one principal you an usually count a politican to follow is to vote not in tremendous opposition to the way the folks back home want you to. It is easier, in many ways, to stand up to the political bosses, than to the folks back home. Isn't that what we want or we vote the bum out?

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