Monday, February 16, 2009

Marc Ambinder sees no evil

In a post entitled "Straw Man," Marc Ambinder calls a foul on Obama for saying the following:

As I said, the one concern I've got on the stimulus package in terms of the debate and listening to some of what's been said in Congress is that there seems to be a set of folks who -- I don't doubt their sincerity -- who just believe that we should do nothing.

Ambinder says this is unfair because "[e]xcept for a Republicans on the fringe, the opposition party did want to do something: they wanted more tax cuts and [less] spending."

Well... okay, I guess. Technically, I suppose cutting taxes in the fashion contemplated by the DeMint amendment, and cutting government spending, qualifies as "doing something." But it would obviously constrict rather than expand the government's ability to prop up aggregate demand. So it would have actually been worse than doing nothing.

But that's not even the worst part of the post. Ambinder then segues into an accusation that David Axelrod has a "persecution complex":

"Indeed, Axelrod has a similar habit of discovering new opponents, a tendency that manifested itself at various points in the presidential campaign. Obama's going through a rough patch; the cable news networks are Availability Biasing the present, turning bumps in the road into insurmountable boulders, reporters are asking normal questions, and - boom - persecution complex . Washington thinks one thing, but Obama thinks another. The smelly denizens of the Beltway are totally out of touch with the American people. The American people know exactly what Obama is doing. Washington's ways are the problem."

In Ambinder's world, reporters were just "asking normal questions." There certainly was no conventional wisdom that congealed around the idea that Republicans were "winning the argument" on the merits, or that the stimulus bill was getting more and more unpopular. Never happened!

After gamely defending the "punditocracy" from such (entirely fair) accusations, Ambinder's final gambit is to deny the very existence of such a group:

"[T]he p-tocracy doesn't exist in the way Axe and Rich believe it does. There are so many different types of pundits, analysts and reporters, all broadcasting to an immensely sophisticated audience that sifts, filters and chooses what to believe."

Translation: We in the political journalism business are a freethinking collection of empiricists; it's the audience that sucks.

No comments: