Dear President Nixon, I mean, Obama

Long ago, according to legend, Lyndon Johnson is reputed to have remarked about Vietnam, “If I’ve lost Walter Cronkite, I’ve lost Middle America.”  He was an astute politician and understood that if you alienate the media and the people who trust them to tell them what actually going on (even if they don’t *really* tell us what’s going on) you have a good chance of destroying your political fortunes no matter how invulnerable your arrogance has hitherto made you feel.

Here’s the thing, President Nixon Obama, when you lose Jon Stewart, who really is rooting for you, you are losing one of your most powerful friends. And make no mistake, you are losing Jon Stewart:

This IRS thing–and the Nixonian treatment of the press–is seriously bad news, Mr. Nixon Obama. Will you figure that out, stop this crap, and apologize? Or will you double down in your pride and blame somebody else? You better think fast because once you lose Cronkite, it’s over for you, as it was over for Johnson and Nixon.

Me: I’m hoping that, if you won’t repent, this scandal destroys your capacity to do more mischief. Fitting punishment for your HHS mandate, your zeal for abortion, and your despotic seizure of the power to murder and indefinitely detain. Sin has a way of making people stupid. I’d prefer you repent your sin. But if you won’t, I prefer you stupidly destroy your capacity to inflict more harm on us.

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  • Mike the former contributor

    so Obama is losing the Left-Wing Noise machine (LWNM) and their hysterics?

    • chezami

      Maybe. We’ll see.

      • Andrea Mitchell of all people seems to be slipping away…

        • chezami

          Who’s she?

  • Dymphna

    Obama’s response? Crying. Yeah, that’ll help.

  • The Deuce

    We’ll see. This is welcome, of course. However, Stewart occasionally does a number like this here or there to seem like he’s not totally in the tank, but he never really follows up.

    • chezami

      “to seem like he’s not totally in the tank”

      Do you know this for a fact? About his motives, I mean. He actually supports this sort of thing from the Administration but lies and says that he opposes it so as to, for some mysteriours reason, give the impression to… who exactly?… that he is not… what exactly? Do you really think his viewership or revenue would somehow suffer if he simply ignored this story and did his bread and butter thing of making fun of FOX? Is it not remotely possible that he actually says what he says here because it is, in fact, what he thinks, and not because of some ulterior motive?

      • Dave G.

        I dunno Mark, when you posted the story on FOX at least covering the Gosnell case, several readers objected that FOX isn’t 99.99% bad, it’s 100% bad. You then responded that it’s likely FOX didn’t really care (about the case involving murdered babies or dead women):

        “Oh, no questions that FOX is only covering this for purely cynical reasons. But at least they are covering it. They are a terrible network.”

        And again:

        “Most likely because FOX doesn’t really care about this, but want to throw out some culture war red meat without giving up prime time real estate. Still it’s better than nothing.”

        Now, did you know that for a fact? Is it, after all, even remotely possible that real life humans work at FOX, and maybe even just a couple thought murdering babies in an abortion clinic is bad and maybe should be covered? Just wondering about the consistency of the standards. I think Stewart is really pissed and really thinks this was wrong, despite his leanings. But then, I also think FOX was truly outraged, and really thought the Gosnell story was something that needed covered.

        • chezami

          Do I know for a fact that FOX deliberately tells lies and suppresses information for purely partisan ideological reasons? Yes. I do. I saw their coverage of the Romney campaign and the systematic way they lied to themselves and their audience, culminating in the debacle that reality-based comic like Stewart gleefully did the autopsy on. And I saw that that coverage included systematically trying to sell Romney as a prolife candidate when this was an obvious lie. So yeah. Their coverage of Gosnell has been done for purely cynical and partisan reasons.

          I have no corresponding reason to think the Stewart’s blast at Obama has some simliar motivation. It seems to me obvious that, rather, the guy would love to cheerlead for Obama but is genuinely appalled at his abuse of power.

          Sometime the tu quoque just doesn’t work, Dave.

          • Dave G.

            As one who has caught Stewart playing fast and loose with his take down of issues, like how he framed the issue of those who think the HHS mandate is something to be worried about, I’ve learned he’s not always reliable either. And yet I am sure Stewart is capable of being sincerely outraged about things, even if it doesn’t benefit him to be outraged. Just like I’m capable of believing people working at FOX, despite how biased and wrong FOX can be, can actually be outraged at the thought of an abortion doctor murdering babies and killing women.

            By the way, it wasn’t a tu quoque. It was noticing that you were asking for proof of something and wondering if you could provide similar proof for your statements. You haven’t really. You’ve said since FOX has lied, clearly there is none at FOX who are good, no not one. Perhaps. But it’s still not proof that FOX didn’t sincerely care about the murdered babies or woman at Gosnell’s clinic and was only running the stories to, in your words, throw out some culture war red meat without giving up prime time real estate.

            • Chesire11

              Stewart often hides behind the excuse that he’s not a journalist, he’s just a comedian. To a large extent, it is a dodge, but there is at least some merit to what he says. His job is to poke fun at politicians, and oftentimes that means being superficial, rather than substantive. In the case of the HHS mandate, and I would argue, the IRS story, he simply took the uninformed mood of the public, and ran with it.

            • chezami

              He’s. a. comic. Of *course* he plays fast and loose with his take on fact. You really need to get over the fact that he does fake news and not real news. He is up front about the fact that he works from an ideological bias. Duh. All that granted, the claim that his attack on the Administration here proceeds from some sinister ulterior motive and is insincere is, as near as I can see, totally baseless. Meanwhile, the claim that FOX’s interest in abortion is anything other than utterly insincere and strategic is also utterly baseless, given their radical disinterest in the question when it does not suit their agenda of ginning up the troops to obey the GOP talking points. Really. The answer is not always “tu quoque”.

  • Stu

    Bush’s fault.

  • Tom Locker

    Level Employees, At this point what difference does it make? Can’t comment on an
    ongoing investigation, It was Bush’s fault, It was caused by the
    sequester that the Republicans forced us into, Let the investigators
    finish their work.

    • Chesire11

      It makes a HUGE difference. There is all the difference in the world between civil servants in a field office abusing their authority, and a political leader directing a federal agency to act as a political “hit man” for him. Thus far, every piece of information points to the former, and none toward the latter.

      • InsaneSanity

        Do you not get that he is quoting Democratic talking points?

        • Chesire11

          A talking point is an empty argument. The issue of whether these were the actions of low level civil servants, or high level political appointees is not a talking point, it is the defining issue here. I was objecting to its characterization as a “talking point.”

  • current lector

    Hmmm… Although Nixon was a crook, I think history will judge him more evenhandedly for his foreign policy (he got the USA out of Vietnam and improved relations with China).

    Probably the last president who was both relatively decent and effective was Eisenhower; Carter tried hard but couldn’t quite pull things together.

    • Chesire11

      I would give Nixon points for the opening to China, and for detente with the Soviet Union, but he didn’t get us out of Vietnam until it became a political albatross, and his manner of leaving invited our opponents around the world to doubt American resolve for a generation.

  • IRSGate? If THIS is what takes Obama down, that is going to throw me into an entire new round of political despair. God save the USA- nobody else can.

    The joke was funny to begin with, but try to say “fetishists fits” five times fast.

  • ivan_the_mad

    Stewart is talented, but this bit is specially good. Hopefully this dose of reality pays dividends down the road toward a less subservient press.

  • Mark S. (not for Shea)

    We don’t really have true journalism in this country any more. The primary job of all the media companies is not to inform the public. It’s to increase shareholder value by convincing us to buy more soap and pharmaceuticals.

  • Dave G.

    That was my beef with the original post. By Sunday,every major news outlet was covering this. Then the story of the AP broke. Anderson Cooper and Chris Hayes go ballistic and Tom Brokaw demands answers. This was hell and gone from just some ‘right wing’ dribble. This was big stuff. When I saw Stewart do this, I knew there were going to be problems for the White House. At least for the time being.

    • Chesire11

      The MSM has a habit of chasing after small shiny objects, only to find that “there’s no’ there’ there.”

      Unless there is a lot still to come, though the optics of both stories are superficially bad, there is nothing to them beyond mere optics.

      • chezami

        That’s the thing, we don’t know what else is to come and the press has not been very eager to find out. But if this has scared and angered them as much as I suspect it has, they may start pursuing the Administration with the same sort of aggression they pursued Nixon. When it gets personal, people find hitherto unrealized reserves of energy. We’ll see. Obama is a smart guy. He may do what Nixon refused to do and avoid allowing his contempt for the press to determine his actions. If so, the press may be mollified and it will all die down. Hard to say at this point. But I’ll bet the White House is watching people like Stewart closely and very worried about losing people like him. They run a permanent campaign and image is everything to them.

        • Chesire11

          From a political point of view, I agree, they would have to be concerned if Stewart started to sell a storyline of abuse of power by the current administration.

          Image is everything to every politician, and every one of them operates in permanent campaign mode, largely because that is how the media reports stories. They never bother to report on the merits of a policy, or a “scandal,” instead, they treat everything as a horse race, “who’s winning” and “Who’s losing” is all that matters anymore.

          It’s sad. It’s like they have adopted as their motto, “Quid veritas est?”

          • chezami

            No argument from me. None of these people cares about the common good. Which was my point when some of my conservative readers flipped out because I didn’t think Obama shooting himself in the foot magically made the Right Wing Noise Machine into something other than an organ of propaganda for manipulating public opinion in favor of giving the GOP the same power it badly misused last time. 🙂

      • Dave G.

        Perhaps. We’ll have to wait and see. My hunch is that they’re trying to get to the bottom of it, while the more devout supporters of the Obama White House are waiting for that Hillary moment, like back in the 90s. It was when we learned that Clinton had lied under oath in an attempt to obstruct an investigation into sexual harassment I remember Peter Jennings dropping the I-Word. That itself was news, that Jennings had said ‘impeachment.’ Then, of course, history turned a corner when Hillary appeared on TODAY and uttered that famous statement: It’s all just part of a Vast Right Wing Conspiracy. From that point, the press took that angle and ran with it (at least until the dress appeared). My hunch is there are enough in the media outraged that they’ll see this through, but there could be some who will look for an out if they can find one.

        • Chesire11

          I agree, it’s best to wait and see.

        • chezami

          Um, you do remember that Clinton was, in fact, impeached, right? And that the hysterics of the Right wing noise machine were integral to that process, right? And that Hillary’s VRWC has been massive grist for conservative organs of opinion ever since and a huge rallying point for DIttoheads and such folk? The notion that all that was somehow a media defeat for the Right is pretty delusional.

  • Chesire11

    Unfortunately, this whole thing is much ado about nothing. Agents in an IRS field office, faced with a tide of applications for tax exempt status unleashed by the SCOTUS’ Citizen’s United decision inappropriately responded by targeting conservative applicants. When that information made its way up the ranks of the IRS bureaucracy (in 2011, if I’m not mistaken) the Cincinnati office was instructed to revise its procedures, and stop targeting Tea Party groups.

    Richard Nixon compiled an enemies list, and directed the IRS to harass the people whose names appeared on that list. There is nothing in this scandal that suggests it had anything to do with the White House. In fact, the gop’s gleeful wailing and gnashing of teeth notwithstanding, everything we know actually points away from any notion of a centralized conspiracy. Hardly Nixonian, that! Unfortunately, the gop’s mindless, vitriolic hatred of anyone who is not a republican dovetails nicely with the MSM’s lust for hyperbolic headlines.

    There are very legitimate grounds on which to criticize President Obama, the HHS mandate, his pro-abortion policies, the use of drones, and his failure to push to close the prison at Guantanamo Bay. It’s sad that these legitimate issues are starved of attention by manufactured nonsense. What’s next? Birth certificate-gate chapter XLVII???

    • chezami

      I think the core of the issue will boil down to the DOJ’s assault on freedom of the press and their attempt spy on and intimidate them. If this gets traction, it will be because of that. I’m starting to suspect the Benghazi thing is DOA.

      • Chesire11

        Yeah, I’m afraid I never really “got” the Benghazi thing…unless there is a lot more to it, the AP phone records also looks like a non-story to me. It is not commonplace, but is hardly unprecedented for phone records to be subpoenaed in a criminal investigation – especially in a leak investigation. Frankly, I have trouble viewing any of these things as anything but cheap partisan stunts, and political posturing.

        • chezami

          The question is: will the press regard it as a non-story? They do, after all, decide for the rest of us what “real” news is. If Obama’s Administration loses them, it loses everything.

          • Chesire11

            Yes, the press has a nasty habit of dismissing real stories, and flogging drivel. I’m afraid that’s what happens when ratings are king – they run with whatever sells best, and that’s usually whatever confirms the public’s conceit.

            (I’m afraid I’m being terribly cynical sounding tonight. I think it must mean it’s about time for me to turn in for the night!)

          • The press views this as a MAJOR story, as it is right in their wheelhouse. They turned the other way on drones, and other issues, but the government can’t tap our phones!!!!

            • Chesire11

              The AP story isn’t about wiretapping, it is about phone records obtained through subpoenas. Phone records only provide the phone numbers dialed, and the date, time, and duration of the calls. A wiretap provides a recording of the conversations, and requires a warrant (well, at least until the previous administration decided that they don’t…).

              • ivan_the_mad

                Never let imprecision in terms get in the way of a good nutty.

      • The reality of it is, is that it is legal for DOJ to do that. The law was passed in 2007…on you know, the other guy’s watch. We have allowed THAT! Pat yourselves (down) on the back, or walk through a TSA scanner, for the massive over-reaction that followed 9/11 which obliterated so many liberties. Obama is guilty of sins of omission – he should have worked harder to get rid of some of these things. BUT – with people in Congress like McCain, Ayotte and Graham in power, can you imagine the uproar about how the socialist was removing the protections from terror!!!!

        By the way, we have ALLOWED these political groups (which are primarily “conservative” groups), through Citizens United, to form and apply for tax exemption through holes in our tax law. Do you think the R’s want to close THAT loophole? Even the D’s???? We all know that corporations are people, and are entitled to a say in our government…just like it says in the constitution: “We the Corporations of America.”

        One more note…Benghazi was DOA on arrival. It really is a critique of “talking points” – not a look into how we can protect our overseas diplomats. THAT has not happened, and is why I don’t take the Benghazi thing seriously. Benghazi REALLY was about getting Obama to say “Radical Islamic Terrorist Act”. Besides, Darrel Issa is a tool. He’s a poor man’s McCarthy…

  • Chesire11

    BTW, the DoJ subpoenaed the AP phone records as part of a criminal investigation of the disclosure of classified information about CIA efforts to defeat a bomb plot. This was not some sort of “Nixonian” bullying of the press,it wasn’t even targeted against the press at all. It was an attempt to identify who, within the government passed classified information to the media.

    Just another silly, manufactured scandal to raise money for the gop at the expense of real issues like the HHS mandate, and drone “kill lists,” etc…

  • tedseeber

    Every President in my lifetime, every single freakin’ one, has been worse than the one previous, and I don’t expect the trend to end here.

    • InsaneSanity

      Reagan worse than Carter? Not even close.

      • tedseeber

        A kindly old farmer who failed to live up to the complexity of the job, compared with a man who was so senile that he thought it was pro-life to sell arms to the Contras in Nicaragua to kill priests?

        You are right, not even close.

        But I’d give anything to have either one of them back over the last 4 we’ve had.

      • Chesire11

        Yeah, Reagan was a pretty ghastly character who set the stage for very many of our current problems with his simplistic foreign and economic policies. He specialized in catering to the public’s short term, selfish impulses at the expense of our long term interests, and traded shamefully in stereotype.