Think Again: "History" Isn't a Dirty Word

03/18/2010 05:12 am ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Crossposted with the Center for American Progress.

Last week, Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei at Politico reported that the White House planned on making deficit reduction a centerpiece of the next State of the Union address. Allen and Vandehei called the decision "practical" saying that "Obama has spent more money on new programs in nine months than Bill Clinton did in eight years, pushing the annual deficit to $1.4 trillion. This leaves little room for big spending initiatives." This fact is taken completely out of the context of the recession. The title of the article refers to the White House's "spending binge." The deficits, tax cuts, and spending of the previous administration are ignored entirely.

It's not exactly news that most members of MSM are almost purposely amnesiac. There is no greater insult to a reporter than to call his story "history." And yet once upon a time, it was only yesterday that was old news. Nowadays, with the new neverending cable/talk-radio/blogosphere-driven news cycle, we are all supposed to have forgotten the past fifteen minutes. (There is actually a headline on the Drudge Report as I write this that the Associated Press went to the trouble of looking at the record and seeing whether any of the outrageous claims made in Sarah Palin's memoir are true. The idea appears to be if it says so in a book, it's wrong of a journalist to actually check the record. The [surprise, surprise] Fox News story contains no link to the AP story, further making the point that the record is really irrelevant to the story.)

So back to Obama's "spending binge." Even if the Politico editors are not interested in what may have happened in the past eight years to cause some of the deficits with which the Obama administration is forced to deal, we are. And here are just a couple of examples we found...

Eric Alterman is a Senior Fellow at the Center for American Progress and a Distinguished Professor of English at Brooklyn College. He is also a Nation columnist and a professor of journalism at the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. His seventh book, Why We're Liberals: A Handbook for Restoring America's Most Important Ideals, was recently published in paperback. He occasionally blogs at and is a regular contributor to The Daily Beast.