Wednesday, October 14, 2009

Obama vs. Fox News

White House Communications Director Anita Dunn says Fox is an arm of the Republican Party
Best opinion: Nation, Hot Air, Baltimore Sun, Crooks and Liars

The Obama administration has finally declared war on Fox News, said Ari Melber in The Nation. White House Communications Director Anita Dunn went on national television over the weekend to "blast Fox," saying that the cable news channel "often operates almost as either the research arm or the communications arm of the Republican Party." It's about time Democrats started treating Fox as the "hostile force" it obviously is. (watch the White House's Anita Dunn criticize Fox News)

Sure, Fox News offers viewers an alternative to the "Obama Hosannah Hours" on rival cable networks CNN and MSNBC, said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air. But that's why the "ill-advised" strategy of publicly attacking the network is bound to "backfire." The White House is just conducting what amounts to a free marketing campaign that will drive up Fox's ratings.

This isn't just an attack on Fox, said David Zurawik in the Baltimore Sun. It's an attack on "press freedom" that would make Richard Nixon and Spiro Agnew proud. "You have to wonder who else is on this administration's enemies list."

Please, Anita Dunn merely stated the obvious, said John Amato in Crooks and Liars, when she pointed out that Fox News is a "propanda" organ for the Republican Party. Can anyone deny that Fox spends an inordinate amount of time and effort reporting on Bill Ayers and ACORN? Obama didn't declare war on Fox—Fox declared war on him.

Obama and gay rights

President Obama renewed his vow to end "don't ask, don't tell," but some activists are getting impatient.

Gay rights advocates rally in Washington D.C. on Oct. 11, 2009.

Best opinion: NY Times, New Majority, Wash. Post

President Obama's renewal of his promise to end "don't ask, don't tell," said Sheryl Gay Stolberg in The New York Times, got a roar of approval from the 3,000 people at a Human Rights Campaign black-tie fundraiser on the eve of Sunday's big gay-rights rally in Washington. "But outside the room, the president's words got a chillier reception," because some activists think the president isn't moving fast enough to lift the ban on gays in the military.

There's good reason for gay-rights activists to be impatient, said Jeb Golinkin in New Majority. Gay rights is yet another case where Obama "speaks big words" but offers little action to back them up. The "real fight for change" is in the courts, where constitutional lawyers Ted Olson and David Boies are challenging California's Proposition 8 gay-marriage ban. If Obama wants to do his part, he'll have to go beyond words and spend some of his "rapidly diminishing" political capital to end "don't ask, don't tell."

Sure, the pace of progress on gay rights is slow, said Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post, but don't pin the blame on President Obama. Obama has made it clear he would sign bills repealing "don't ask, don't tell" and the Defense of Marriage Act. The huge crowd that rallied Sunday for faster action on gay rights served as a reminder that it's time for House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid to get Congress to step up and do its part.

Friday, October 09, 2009

Obama's Nobel Peace Prize

The Nobel Committee on Friday awarded President Obama its annual peace prize "for his extraordinary efforts to strengthen international diplomacy and cooperation between peoples." (The New York Times)

What the commentators said

"This is completely bizarre," said Iain Martin in The Wall Street Journal. "Traditionally it has been standard procedure that winners of the prize do their peacemaking first." With whom has Obama made peace—Hillary Clinton? (watch the Obama Nobel Peace Prize announcement; watch Obama give a statement)

What President Obama has done, said Maria Farrell in Crooked Timber, is make peace possible again. The Bush presidency created a "tidal wave of bad faith" that discouraged international cooperation. Obama has "changed how the world feels about America. He’s lifted the planet’s mood. This guy is global Prozac."

Even the president's fans must admit, said Matt Lewis in, that the Obama Nobel peace prize was, "at least, a bit premature." The award couldn't have been based on accomplishments—Obama has "zero"—but on "lots of 'hope' for the future."

The hope is that Obama will advance "diplomacy rather than confrontation around the globe," said Jacob Heilbrunn in The Huffington Post, and he has already done that. He has improved U.S. relations with Europe and the world; focused on global warming; started talks with Iran ... "it would be hard to think of a more electrifying and deserved recipient of this year's Nobel Peace prize."

This kind of puts the whole Chicago Olympics rejection in perspective, said Rachel Sklar in Mediaite, "eh?" The Nobel Committee said it wasn't rewarding Obama for future achievements but trying to enhance his current diplomatic efforts. "No doubt the cries of 'USA! USA!' will be emanating from Rush Limbaugh’s radio show very soon."

Best opinion: Slate, Wash. Monthly, Sun-Sentinel

President Obama should "politely decline" his Nobel Peace Prize, said Mickey Kaus in Slate, saying he's honored but hasn't had time to accomplish his goals. He'll get "the same amount of glory," and chip away at his "narcissism problem" by showing that "he's uncomfortable with his reputation as a man overcelebrated for his potential long before he's started to realize it."

It's fair to say Obama's Nobel is premature "given his fairly brief tenure," said Steve Benen in Washington Monthly. But there's a legitimate defense for giving him the award—it is, after all, reserved for those "who've shown great leadership in advancing the cause of international peace," which Obama undeniably has. And Obama's Nobel Peace Prize is worth having—it could have "meaningful, and positive, impact," by giving him the "high ground in international settings."

Obviously, this was a symbolic message meant to repudiate "the go-it-alone, reckless cowboy mentality of George W. Bush’s administration," said Michael Mayo in the Fort Lauderdale, Fla., Sun-Sentinel, "and a validation of Obama’s more conciliatory approach and his overall message of hope." But "I’m still having a hard time wrapping my head around a sitting U.S. president—commander-in-chief of the world’s most sophisticated military machine—winning a peace prize amidst two wars." If Obama doesn't turn down the prize, he should at least "make sure the $1.2 million prize money goes to a darn good cause (helpful advice: probably not a donation to ACORN)."