Media Blog

You Can Take the Man Out of Talking Points Memo But You Can’t Take the Talking Points out of the Man

Washington Post blogger Greg Sargent has apparently decided that today is a good day for self-immolation. First, he starts of the morning with a post “Conservatives, Critics Blast Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize.” He begins: 

Probably the main political impact of the news that the Nobel Committee has pronounced Barack Obama “the one” is that it will enhance his international standing, giving a major boost to his foreign policy agenda, so opponents of that agenda are already hard at work to de-legitimize the Nobel win.

De-legitimize? Isn’t the fact that no one can make a case it’s legitimate to begin with the problem here? Sargent goes on to cite several examples of head scratching by those on the right over the Nobel committee’s decision. He then concludes by eyerolling — “It’s gonna be a long day.” Then he follows that up with another post this morning, where he issues — gasp – a sensible critique:

What makes this particularly unfortunate timing for the White House is that it will force the administration to prematurely defend its record, less than a year into Obama’s first term. Another question is whether it will put pressure on Obama to deliver on the international front sooner, rather than later, at a time when he’s trying to bring a patient, deliberative approach to some extremely thorny and complex international problems.

But wait! He has a change of heart:

Update: On second thought, the DNC offers a completely different way to look at it.
Update II: After watching Obama speak, I fully confess that he found a way to get around whatever potential political pitfalls this award may or may not carry.

…And I fully confess that anyone who declares this early on that the president “found a way to get around whatever potential political pitfalls this award may or may not carry” is wildly optimistic. Further, it’s a good thing Sargent came around to the DNC’s way of thinking. I was worried some independent thought might intrude here. In fact, the link in that first update goes to this later post of his, where he cites a DNC spokesman drawing a moral equivalence between questioning the Nobel committee’s decision and throwing your lot in with the Taliban. He frames it this way:

Dems intend to go on the offensive today by holding up Republican criticism of Obama’s Nobel as the latest example of Republicans desperately hoping for America’s failure, placing it alongside GOP cheer at America’s loss of the Olympics as evidence of an unmistakable pattern. … It’s worth noting that Republicans who fail to find anything good or celebratory to say about the Nobel risk doing at least as much damage to themselves as to Obama, by feeding the GOP-wants-America-to-fail meme.

That’s a risk I think the GOP is willing to take. And it’s a bit jarring to see another liberal journalist suddenly tut-tutting about “feeding the GOP-wants-America-to-fail meme” when for so long the former Talking Points Memo journalist’s former colleagues on the left were adamant that criticizing the president was actually the “highest form of patriotism.” Or perhaps Sargent is feeling refreshed after that eight year coma he snapped out of earlier this year.

But you have to credit Sargent. A lot of pundits merely recycle partisan talking points because they’re lazy. On a day like today, it’s hard freaking work, and the man is earning that Washington Post paycheck.

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