As a concerned citizen who wants the media to succeed, I'm troubled: Aren't they biting off more than they can chew? Think about it: They're making detailed judgments about the president's workload -- you've heard all those "too much on his plate" comments -- while at the same time continuing to report on the economy, the Middle East, China, India, the Octuplet Mom, Chris Brown and Rihanna ...
Couldn't these journalists and pundits be losing their focus? After all, If the President and his 1.8 million employees can't address a broad range of issues, how can all these pundits and reporters?
Consider the flood of comments on this topic that Media Matters compiled yesterday. There so many "plate too full" and "bitten off too much" quotes here that it's making me hungry. Somehow with everything else they have to do, they're finding time to micromanage the president's inbox.
They will insist, of course, that they're making this observation strictly for his own good. Anderson Cooper, for example, said that "President Obama has got a lot on his plate, both by circumstance and choice. Stem cells, health care, stimulus, two budgets -- this year and next -- and banks and more, smaller issues, of course, the kind that can damage a presidency little by little."
Said Cooper's CNN colleague, Lou Dobbs: "Critics say the president has been overwhelmed by the severity of this recession and his policies of bigger government could actually worsen the crisis." (When a media figure uses unnamed "critics" to voice an opinion, the word "critic" is a euphemism for "me" or "I.") And yet before Lou Dobbs took on the issue of White House task prioritization he already had a full-time job - advocating against immigration and defending people like Joe Arpaio, the sheriff who fed prisoners oxidized green bologna and marched them in public wearing nothing but pink undershorts.
Does a busy man like Lou Dobbs really have the time to adequately assess the president's workload?
Then there's Jake Tapper, who said "(W)ith the president taking on issue after issue after issue after issue ... some critics are wondering if this president thinks he can walk and chew gum and ride a bike and juggle and read a magazine and play with his daughters and take a nap all at the same time." And yet in the last 48 hours Tapper and ABC's other Washington reporters have reported on Justice Department detainee policies, Joe Biden and Amtrak, Sarah Palin and earmarks, the UN Secretary General's conflict with the White House, the arrest of a DC official, Obama's remarks about the GOP, earmarks, and women's rights ... and that's just on their blog.
ABC News only has a handful of reporters in Washington. And yet they dutifully keep chewing all they've bitten off, issue after issue after issue, while hopefully napping occasionally or playing with their children.
David Brooks is even more specific about the Obama diary: "I think the president should spend 50 percent of his time on the banking crisis, 25 percent of his time on getting our allies to coordinate with a global stimulus package and 25 percent of his time beginning work on a second round of stimulus." That's an 100% financial workload for the leader of the Free World. Yet many of Brooks' recent columns have strayed from the economy - to education reform, the future of political "moderates," urban planning, and "what life asks of us."
David Brooks is a talented man, but he's just one guy. President Obama, on the other hand, has nearly two million Federal employees working for him. Perhaps Mr. Brooks would be better served devoting 50% of his time to writing about social trends in suburbia, 25% of his time to think pieces about the moral challenges of contemporary living, and 25% of his time to television appearances.
Just a suggestion.
I'm not a hostile person. I like these reporters and pundits, and I think they do a tough job well. But I'm starting to think all these comments are motivated by a hostility to the president's agenda, rather than by a genuine concern for his ability to manage his work day.
Oh, wait. I said that wrong. I should've said, "Critics say that these comments are motivated by a hostility to the president's agenda." Either way, I think they should give it a rest... strictly for their own good, of course.