Yesterday, the editors of the New York Times penned some tough, smart criticism of the White House's many "recent reminders of this dismaying retreat from Mr. Obama's passionate campaign promises to make a break with Mr. Bush's abuses of power." At issue were the "expansive claims of national security and executive power" that led to the Bush administration's regime of tacitly-approved torture, the buttressing of unitary executive power, and an overall effort to tamp down on transparency in the national security realm. It was a serious, adult critique, in which real thought was invested.
This morning, Politico has decided to get in on some of that sweet action, with a front pager titled "What if George W. Bush had done that?" It's basically the same story -- Obama's doing things as president that Bush was criticized for doing -- but because this is the Politico, all of the concerns are rivetingly trivial ones. Dig their super-serious lede:
A four-hour stop in New Orleans, on his way to a $3 million fundraiser.
Snubbing the Dalai Lama.
Signing off on a secret deal with drug makers.
Freezing out a TV network.
Doing more fundraisers than the last president. More golf, too.
President Barack Obama has done all of those things -- and more.
And more! But not much more! About as close as Politico comes to zeroing in on a serious matter that might someday impact your life is the Obama White House's decision to cut a deal with the drug industry in return for support on health care reform. There is a section called "toning down human rights" that discusses China and Sudan but completely avoids matters like detainee policy, state's secrets, expansions of executive power that tread on civil liberties, military commissions, and the administration's efforts to keep prisoner abuse photographs from being disclosed.
Nailed him -- NAILED HIM! -- on the whole golfing thing, though! Lord, how FEARLESS reporter Josh Gerstein must feel this morning!
Along the way, we get this statement from "former Bush counselor" Ed Gillespie:
"We have a joke about it. We're going to start a website: IfBushHadDoneThat.com," former Bush counselor Ed Gillespie said. "The watchdogs are curled up around his feet, sleeping soundly. ... There are countless examples: some silly, some serious."
Oooh! I double-dog dare you to put the name "Binyam Mohammed" on your awesome website about accountability!
Anyway, what we're seeing here is the difference between journalists who take the time to develop criticisms based on independent thought and journalists who spend all day in the laps of party hacks.