Tuesday, June 15, 2010

The Oil Spill

I watched Obama's speech on the oil spill tonight and thought it was fine. Not the greatest he's been, but it seemed to me to mostly be a way of keeping the public in the loop with a bit of a pep talk on moving away from oil. A lot of lefty bloggers seem really angry that Obama didn't explicitly push for cap-and-trade in the speech, which I do get, but I can see why he kept the throughline simple. The speech was primarily about the spill, with energy policy as the final goal.

As for the oil spill in general, I think that the Administration has done probably as much as it can in terms of action but not nearly enough PR-wise. In other words, the same old story for Team Obama. I don't understand why Obama doesn't hire more effective advocates for his agenda. It's not like there aren't people out there who can do it.

But what's consistently annoyed me about this crisis is the reaction among Washington Elites. I commented on a particularly dumb piece by David Ignatius that was brought to my attention by DougJ at Balloon Juice, but it bears repeating why Washington Elites are so screwed up.

Basically, we're talking about mostly liberal elites who, for any number of reasons, don't want to be identified with either notation. Whether out of a desire to be "balanced" or out of a sense that America truly is a center-right nation, your Washington Media Elites simply don't want anything to do with what they really are. Instead, they all seem to want to be the peoples' tribunes. Frankly, I see little value in this. Ed Murrow was an outspoken liberal during his day. The guy went up against Joe freakin' McCarthy and was largely responsible for turning back the ugly trend that shared his name. And he had a bit of a popular following, too. Of course, McCarthy today would likely get sympathetic interviews with Larry King, Stephanopoulos, and all the rest of these people.

That's what I think, anyway. Of course, the odds of a smart, informed person like David Ignatius really being so insecure that he needs the assurance that a powerful political figure feels sad are astronomical. The media elites are managing their image, just like politicians. What I find interesting is what they choose to emphasize. In the past two decades, we saw a full-on Village frenzy over Bill Clinton's sexual escapades when the public mostly seemed indifferent about them. We saw the media largely invisible during the Bush years, when it wasn't actively trying to whip up support for things like the Iraq War. And now the oil spill, where the chief complaint seems to be how much Obama feels. From these three examples, one must conclude that media elites think average Americans are dumb, prudish, neurotic reactionaries. Which hasn't been my experience, but probably provides something close to a working definition of Washington culture.

The Man, The Myth, The Bio

East Bay, California, United States
Problem: I have lots of opinions on politics and culture that I need to vent. If I do not do this I will wind up muttering to myself, and that's only like one or two steps away from being a hobo. Solution: I write two blogs. A political blog that has some evident sympathies (pro-Obama, mostly liberal though I dissent on some issues, like guns and trade) and a culture blog that does, well, cultural essays in a more long-form manner. My particular thing is taking overrated things (movies, mostly, but other things too) down a peg and putting underrated things up a peg. I'm sort of the court of last resort, and I tend to focus on more obscure cultural phenomena.