Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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March 20, 2011

IT'S NOT A VACATION.... The good news is, the right has stopped obsessing over President Obama picking his favorites in the NCAA tournament. The bad news is, conservatives have moved onto something nearly as silly.

President Obama landed in Brazil Saturday to learn about its booming economy, but conservatives called the trip a distraction from worldwide turmoil. [...]

"What is happening with the President while all of this is going on in the United States and around the world? He's going on vacation. He's going to Rio," charged Steve Doocy, cohost of "Fox & Friends," during Friday's broadcast.

And The Washington Times fired off an editorial last week that declared "the President parties while the world burns."

By some measures, those were some of the milder criticisms. Fox News' Eric Bolling threw an on-air tantrum Friday night, insisting the president and his wife have been "spreading suntan lotion on each other" and "sipping caipirinhas on Air Force One -- our Air Force One -- while Rome burns."

This may be hard for conservatives to understand -- when they think "Brazil," they think "Carnival" -- but Latin America has many quickly growing economies, and Obama is visiting the region to promote trade and open markets. The point is to take steps that will strengthen the U.S. economy, which the right should at least pretend to care about.

What's more, the visit was scheduled months ago. It's not as if the president woke up Friday morning and thought, "Fire up Air Force One; I'm in the mood to see Rio."

I can appreciate why the timing of the trip may seem inconvenient, but the logistics of presidential travel abroad are laborious, and canceling would have proven problematic. Besides, there are always weighty issues on a president's to-do list, and if the White House had pushed off the Latin American visits until later in the year, there'd very likely be important developments going on then, too.

What we're seeing from the right, then, is criticism for the sake of criticism. The discourse has reached the point at which Republicans and their media figures have to be whining about something at all times. Obama is stopping in Chile, Brazil, and El Salvador as part of a broader economic agenda, so the right feels the need to pretend to be outraged.

It's quite sad.

Steve Benen 9:05 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (35)

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Comments

Maybe they'd like our President better if he spent months every year clearing brush at his ranch.

I wonder if there's a ranch available?

YES! There's one that our former President used as a the place of a million photo ops that he's getting rid of, since he doesn't need it anymore to look like some cross between John Wayne and Ronald Reagan.

Crawford TX, I believe it was in.
Maybe Obama could have a look-see on his way back.

Posted by: c u n d gulag on March 20, 2011 at 9:11 AM | PERMALINK

The only way this trip can be justified is if it signals the beginning of a get-tough policy towards Venezuela, and an intent to attack them once we have mopped up in Libya.

Posted by: Al on March 20, 2011 at 9:16 AM | PERMALINK

caipirinhas?

Sounds like this Eric Bolling character is familiar with Brazil a little too well. Not to sound anti-elitist, but out here in real America we wouldn't ever know to use that word.

Posted by: AndThenThere'sThat on March 20, 2011 at 9:19 AM | PERMALINK

From the clips I've seen on the Daily Show and various blogs, Bolling seems like a real d-bag. He was the one that held up a safety-deposit box with charred money in it as some sort of sacrifice he made on 9/11.

Posted by: Holmes on March 20, 2011 at 9:20 AM | PERMALINK

Brazil has also had a recent gigantic oil discovery.

Posted by: cld on March 20, 2011 at 9:26 AM | PERMALINK

Brazil is the future. So convinced am I of this that I have tried to get my kids to learn Portuguese. Although I know this isn't much of a data point, I have had four Brazilian au pairs and I am struck by their enthusiasm and optimism about the future for their country (in stark contrast to people from many other Latin American countries).

It makes sense that the president has now visited both India and Brazil, because friendship with these two nations will go a long way to ensuring a more peaceful world in the future.

Congress is populated by idiots, all the more idiotic because in many cases they really do know better, they just choose to pander to the idiots in their base.

Posted by: Barbara on March 20, 2011 at 9:27 AM | PERMALINK

This may be hard for conservatives to understand -- when they think "Brazil," they think "Carnival"

Ash Wednesday was last week. It's Lent, no "Carnival."

Don't these people go to church?

Posted by: chi res on March 20, 2011 at 9:30 AM | PERMALINK

It's tribalism. Pure and simple. Us vs Them. What ever he does is bad, whatever they do is good. These are the only principles involved. The founding fathers clockwork mechanism never included a system of checks and balances to prevent the US from devolving into open tribal warfare. But that is where we are. Its a game played by puppet masters from their high castles.

Posted by: c4Logic on March 20, 2011 at 9:39 AM | PERMALINK

Bush worked less, and with less real thought processes than any President in memory. Of course he had Cheney there to run things while he cleared brush and rode his bicycle. He is usually now only seen at sporting events. At least he has had not been critical of our current President in public speeches as have Cheney and others in the Cheney camp

Posted by: Kenneth D. Franks on March 20, 2011 at 9:53 AM | PERMALINK

Yet another reason for the White House to yank all the press passes for Fox News. Let's get some real professionals in there to do the work of reporting. I'll bet NPR's got some real crackerjack journalists who could use a front row seat at the briefing room.

Posted by: hells littlest angel on March 20, 2011 at 9:54 AM | PERMALINK

Steve Doocey is a sad and pathetic man who has obviously fallen in with the wrong crowd!

The only other TV program I've been exposed to that offered the viewer so much pretend time was Romper Room, oh, and Mr. Rogers also had pretend time.

FOX & FRIENDS is an orchestrated nonchalant propaganda machine working insidiously to lure the unassuming in and feed them the party line.

And what is that party line?

Repetitively, President Obama is unworthy, and not to be trusted!

Why such orchestration?

To discourage people of color or difference from holding public office, especially the national office of president as these FOX citizens work to make President Obama a one-term office holder by lying, feigning the indignant, and making shit up merely to confuse the moment! -Kevo

Posted by: kevo on March 20, 2011 at 9:57 AM | PERMALINK

On September 11th GW Bush spend a number of hours, flying aimlessly around in Air Force One. We were reassured that it was State of the Art communications wise, a flying Oval Office.

Also, after some diligent internet searching, I discovered that there are telephones in Brazil. . .

Posted by: DAY on March 20, 2011 at 10:00 AM | PERMALINK

Why do you waste space covering these comments? Everyone knows that regardless of what Obama does Fox and the right wing will criticize him. This adolescent concept of politics is meaningless and only plays to the ignorant segment of their viewers and supporters. Constantly checking on their latest stupid statements serves no purpose. Focus on the important stuff.

Posted by: Milt on March 20, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK

And quite apart from the tribalism, it's also fodder for the anger junkies.

An awful lot of the noisy Right -- including many of the Teatards -- are real anger junkies; they've got to be angry about something pretty much all the time. So Fox et al. serve it up. It doesn't matter that it's nonsensical or irrelevant, only that they can latch onto it to get angry.

Posted by: bleh on March 20, 2011 at 10:09 AM | PERMALINK

It's pure politics, of course, and there is no decision Obama could make that wouldn't be wrong. Every seed of doubt they can plant about Obama going into the 2012 elections represents a vote that might swing in their direction. They're very good at it and they have the advantage of an entire news network whose sole purpose is to get Republicans elected.

Posted by: DelCapslock on March 20, 2011 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

Just once I'd like to see Obama arch his eyebrow and talk back to The Crazy: "everything I do, according to you, is wrong. So I fill out a bracket. Doesn't that mean I'm not, for once, doing something actively wrong, evil, and horrible? Please get your stories straight here. People get confused by your hysteria".

Posted by: walt on March 20, 2011 at 10:14 AM | PERMALINK

Obama is a n1gger and a democrat, therefore everything he does is with evil intent. There is nothing wrong with our republican media pointing this out.

Maybe Obama should stop in Texas on his way back to see if there are any pig farms for sale that he can buy and call a ranch.

Posted by: RepublicanPointOfView on March 20, 2011 at 10:16 AM | PERMALINK

Anger junkies, having zero empathy it's one of the few emotions they can actually experience, it's what makes them human.

Also it's revenge for all the times we noticed the Golden Chimpanzee was on vacation when disaster struck, or refused to interrupt his golf game.

Posted by: cld on March 20, 2011 at 10:31 AM | PERMALINK

In this case, President Obama really invited all of this criticism by his actions the last two years. How many times did he postpone his trip to south Asia? Each time it was because of pressing issues back home (HCR debate), so now that there are pressing international issues it's really hard to use the "scheduled in advance" defense.

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on March 20, 2011 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Now Steve, let's be fair. Gov Christie couldn't just up and cancel his trip to Disney when the snow storm came up. He had been planning it months in advance too. There's the reservations at Citricos, at Fulton's Crab House, at Victoria & Alberts, Yachsman Steakhouse, at1900 Park Fare, at Boma, at California Grill, at Chef Mickey's, At Cinderella's Royal Table, at Coral Reef, at Coral Reef, at, at, at. These things don't happen overnight. Do you know how many people he had to yell at to get them?

Posted by: ComradeAnon on March 20, 2011 at 10:52 AM | PERMALINK

Why are you surprised at this...criticism for the sake of criticism. You can walk your way back to the start of the Obama administration and the campaign and easily find a steady pattern of weekly and often daily idiocy on the part of the GOP in terms of criticisms....playing golf, creating a March Madness bracket, his wife encouraging healthy eating, etc. etc. etc.

It is all part of a carefully organized program that continuously fires off complaints about anything and everything. Every once in a while something catches and sticks and becomes part of the MSM soundtrack and they can ring up another success. The goal is to try and force the Administration to continuously "respond" to the criticism, keep it off balance and avoid letting it gain traction and focus on issues that matter.

What's the number one issue for Americans these days? Jobs and the economy. What are the Republicans focusing on? IRS monitored abortions, illegal immigrants, NPR funding, and draconian budget cuts.

Posted by: dweb on March 20, 2011 at 11:00 AM | PERMALINK

It hasn't "reached the point at which Republicans and their media figures have to be whining about something at all times." That IS the point. That's how they do it. They own the media and make shit up, hammer their lies it day in and day out 24/7 and eventually people believe it. This is the raison d'etre for Fox News, it's the reason Mitch McConnell is in the Senate, it's the reason for everything Republicans do - to get rid of Obama or any other Democrat in office. They do not believe Democrats have a legitimate right to hold public office and there is no dirty trick or underhanded method they will not use to prove their point. What I can't understand is why people can't see that instead of acting surprised and incensed and all oh-look-what-it's-come-to now. Look at the point we've reached.

Posted by: Nancy on March 20, 2011 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Please excuse my ignorance, but do women with dark complexions even use suntan lotion?

Posted by: Grumpy on March 20, 2011 at 11:26 AM | PERMALINK

Racism is just the icing on the hate cake. This would happen to any democrat no matter race or gender.

Remember that the Citizen's United case we all refer to, the original name of that "organization" was Citizen's United Not Timid (CUNT) and was over a "documentary" (read: hit piece) on Hillary Clinton.

The same thing we're seeing would be happening no matter which Dem was in office. With Obama, we get the added bonus of the white supremacists.

Posted by: MsJoanne on March 20, 2011 at 11:28 AM | PERMALINK

Perhaps it is time to shelve the term "critic". A critic is someone of informed judgment capable of rising above conflicting concepts and coming to some kind of reasoned decision.

These guys are just naysayers, carpers, or whatever you should call people who are just mad as hell at a competent, democratic president. This is not CRITICISM, it is pure nastiness.

Posted by: jjm on March 20, 2011 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

our Air Force One???

As in, 'what's that black man doing pretending to be President and flying around on the White Man's plane' "our", or what? Just wondering.

Anyway, that would be the same Air Force One that's equipped to allow the President command-and-control during a global thermonuclear war, right? I think it's equipped to keep him in touch with such crucial global emergencies as the need to defund NPR, or whatever the House GOP is cooking up this week.

Posted by: biggerbox on March 20, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK

biggerbox and others beat me to it but this is a case of obama as strapping young buck buying t-bones with food stamps and michelle as the cadillac driving welfare queen...'cept now it's "our" air force one they're cruising around in

Posted by: dj spellchecka on March 20, 2011 at 12:42 PM | PERMALINK

They've pretty much characterized all his foreign trips as vacations, haven't they? State dinners and hosting other national leaders have been characterized as expensive "entertaining".

I'm sure when President Huckabee or Gingrich is in office they'll travel only as far as the family station wagon can go, and only invite folks over for burgers and hot dogs on the patio.

Posted by: g on March 20, 2011 at 12:44 PM | PERMALINK

You can walk your way back to the start of the Obama administration and the campaign and easily find a steady pattern of weekly and often daily idiocy on the part of the GOP in terms of criticisms....playing golf, creating a March Madness bracket, his wife encouraging healthy eating, etc. etc. etc.

Not to mention using the wrong kind of mustard on his burger.

Posted by: g on March 20, 2011 at 12:47 PM | PERMALINK

The subtext, of course, is that black people are lazy and don't want to do any work. You can bet the Republican base is keyed into that subtext.

Posted by: Roddy McCorley on March 20, 2011 at 12:48 PM | PERMALINK

What we're seeing from the right, then, is criticism for the sake of criticism.

Wasn't this obvious like about two years ago?

Posted by: beb on March 20, 2011 at 2:37 PM | PERMALINK

"our Air Force One"

By definition, any airplane the president rides automatically receives that call-sign. The only way to avoid it would be to take a boat. Now *that* would be a vacation.

Posted by: Grumpy on March 20, 2011 at 2:42 PM | PERMALINK

At least, when he says he's going to Brazil, he'll show up in Brazil. And he's taken his wife with him. Unlike some Appalachian Trail hikers :)

Brazil is hugely important and getting more so, esp with the new oil discoveries. Lula da Silva had steered an impeccable course between the left and the right, managing to remain on friendly terms with both the lefty firebrands of Venezuela and Bolivia and the less-so rest of South America. It remains to be seen how Rousseff (the first female president of Brazil, in place since January) will go but, for all her extremely lefty (even been called a "Marxist guerrilla") past, she seems to be open to closer relationship with the West. So she's well worth cultivating.

And the right wing is full of hot wind, as usual.

Posted by: exlibra on March 20, 2011 at 6:08 PM | PERMALINK

Welcome to the modern technological age, and almost instantaneous communications worldwide via cellphones and satellites.

A U.S. president can be almost anywhere in the world nowadays and conduct Oval Office business, uninterrupted.

For instance, former president George W. Bush spent a whole lot of time at his Crawford TX ranch during his eight long torturous years in the White House, and he even made a trip or two overseas, like the one to Africa during the immediate days following the outing of a covert CIA agent in 2003 by top Bush administration officials.

Even earlier onn Aug. 6th, 2001, he received a CIA briefing entitled "Bin Laden Determined to Strike in U.S.," so of course, Bush did nothing, twiddling his thumbs, allowing Osama bin Laden and al Qaeda to finalize their 9/11 attack plans.

So, the idea that the distance from Washington D.C. somehow makes a difference in presidential decisions and actions is ridiculous, that somehow we're still stuck in the horseback message era, pre-telegraph, pre-cellphone towers, pre-satellite. Ultimately, it doesn't matter where a U.S. president is, but only who the president is...and God help America if Sarah Palin were ever to become president...or John McCain...or Scott Walker...or another Bush.

Posted by: The Oracle on March 20, 2011 at 8:00 PM | PERMALINK

So what he postponed his trip to Asia during HCR?

[i]In this case, President Obama really invited all of this criticism by his actions the last two years. How many times did he postpone his trip to south Asia? Each time it was because of pressing issues back home (HCR debate), so now that there are pressing international issues it's really hard to use the "scheduled in advance" defense."
Posted by: Lifelong Dem[/i]

That was then and what it was and this is now. President Obama is making the best decisions according to him..not for some stupid whining republicons.

Posted by: Cha on March 20, 2011 at 8:46 PM | PERMALINK




 

 

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