Wednesday, Politico offered President Obama some advice on how to approach his afternoon deficit speech in a piece titled "7 things Obama needs to do." And for some reason, MediaMatters' Simon Maloy actually read the damn thing, and was surprised to learn that the piece actually offered all sorts of conflicting advice -- almost as if Politico should maybe stay out of this whole "advice to presidents" game.
How conflicting was it? In the second paragraph, they advise the president to "signal to Republicans that he's open to compromise." In paragraph 5, they caution "no matter what Obama says Wednesday, he won't go far enough to satisfy most Republicans." Which would tend to make the whole "signalling an openness to compromise" part a pretty useless endeavor.
Then, beginning in paragraph 11, they specifically direct the president to beat up on Paul Ryan. By which I mean they title a whole section: "Beat up on Rep. Paul Ryan." "On his budget plan, at least," reads the caveat, lest anyone incur liability for encouraging the president to literally assault the chair of the House Budget Committee.
To Democrats, this is a no-brainer. Republicans want to privatize Medicare, the most popular government program around. It's already been incorporated into the campaign strategy books of Democrats around the country, including the president's.
So the president, who has said very little about the Ryan budget, needs to make the moral case for Medicare, Democrats said.
"It will be characterized as partisan, but he has to do that," said Stan Collander, a lobbyist and former Democratic Senate budget aide.
Okay, so, per Politico, Obama "had to do that," even if it was to be seen as "partisan." (Note to Politico: In the current environment, the GOP sees the mere act of disagreeing with them as "unfair.")
At any rate, Maloy offered a prediction: "I can't imagine how Obama pulls off this absurd trifecta, but if he does, I wouldn't be at all surprised to see tomorrow morning a Politico article on Obama's muddled message to Republicans."
This morning, Politico's Glenn Thrush -- who shared a byline on yesterday's article -- and Manu Raju take the president to task for, as they put it, "beat[ing] up" the Republicans with "a fiscal olive branch."
Obama's long-anticipated speech on the deficit at George Washington University was one of the oddest rhetorical hybrids of his presidency -- a serious stab at reforming entitlements cloaked in a 2012 campaign speech that was one of the most overtly partisan broadsides he's ever delivered from a podium with a presidential seal.
Ha! This is coming from the publication that specifically advised the President to perform an odd rhetorical hybrid. There's more!
But the combative tenor of Obama's remarks, which included a swipe at his potential GOP challengers in 2012, may have scuttled the stated purpose of the entire enterprise -- starting negotiations with Republicans on a workable bipartisan approach to attacking the deficit.
I guess after calling for a "combative tenor," they've thought better of it?
Today's piece actually contains this paragraph:
But if Obama's goal was compromise, he pursued it with uncompromising language, saving his harshest words for Ryan, who last week unveiled a plan to privatize Medicare and cut a third of funding for Medicaid health care services for the poor.
Surely that deserves some sort of disclaimer? Something like, "This is exactly what we told him he should do, actually, you can read all about it in this very same paper."
Whatever. It hardly makes a difference, because I'm really quite sure that the White House is not looking to Politico for advice.
Politico Faults Obama For Following Their Advice [County Fair]
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