Editore"s Note
Tilting at Windmills

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April 12, 2011

DON'T TAKE THIN ARTICLES AT FACE VALUE.... I'm a little surprised at the extent to which folks are overreacting to the Wall Street Journal article on the White House and the debt ceiling. The article is incredibly thin, cites no sources at all, and comes from a Murdoch-owned paper that doesn't exactly deserve the benefit of the doubt.

Obviously, given the larger context, there are widespread fears the White House, which called again yesterday for Congress to pass a clean bill on the debt limit, will start making preemptive concessions. And the headline on the WSJ piece is intended to immediately be provocative: "President Open to Deal on Debt Cap."

But here's the lede:

White House officials have opened the door to a deal with Republicans that would allow the U.S. to increase its ability to borrow, potentially easing worries in financial markets that the country might default on its debt.

Softening the administration's earlier insistence that Congress raise the so-called debt ceiling without conditions, officials now say they won't rule out linking an increase of the borrowing cap with cuts aimed at reducing the deficit -- even though they'd prefer to keep the issues separate.

Through the rest of the piece, the reader gets no additional information of any use. There are no quotes or even blind paraphrases from anyone at any level in the administration. The entire piece seems to be based on some vague comment David Plouffe made on "Meet the Press" -- a detail that isn't shared until the 11th paragraph.

Some of my very favorite writers are jumping on this story this morning, taking the article at face value. I think that's a mistake. Time will tell what kind of strategy the White House will employ, but we'll need better, more thorough, and more credible reporting before the freak-out should commence.

Steve Benen 9:25 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (32)

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Anyone remember when the WSJ was one of the best newspapers in the world?

Yeah, the Editorial page wasn't fit for birdcages, cause if Polly could read, she'd croak, or to wrap dead fish in, since it would be an insult to the intelligence of the poor, dead fish.

Well, now Merde-och has extended the BS and is slowly making the WSJ the FOX of newpapers.

New motto: "All the news, that's print to fit!"

(That's a takeoff on the classic NY motto).

Posted by: c u n d gulag on April 12, 2011 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

Freak out mode to stand-by.

Given this administration's past behavior, however, I would not be surprised if this is what they do.

Posted by: Doctor Whom on April 12, 2011 at 9:35 AM | PERMALINK

The WSJ is a rag, but you can't fault people for their willingness to believe Obama has preemptively folded.

Posted by: Holmes on April 12, 2011 at 9:37 AM | PERMALINK

When has he not pre-emptively folded? Only an article saying he WASN'T going to do it this time would be implausible.

Face it, this guy makes Jimmy Carter look like a powerhouse. He is in the process of getting maneuvered into taking the fall for highly unpopular Republican policies, and he'll drag the whole Democratic Party down with him.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 12, 2011 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Exactly Steve, the day we stop playing into republicans hands and taking their bait, by bitching on, and assuming bad faith in our leaders, that's the day our much sought after "cojones" will materialize.

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 9:43 AM | PERMALINK

Was the article intended to be a factual statement?

Posted by: Lifelong Dem on April 12, 2011 at 9:44 AM | PERMALINK

Who enabled the creation of the myth of the ultra liberal ineffective failure Jimmy Carter? Teddy Kennedy supporters. What did it get them?

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 9:45 AM | PERMALINK

To paraphrase Richard Pryor,
"Just don't stick it in too far, Speaker Boehner!"

Posted by: James at home on April 12, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

What the other commenters have said -- you KNOW Obama has already folded, and trying to figure out how to fold more!

Posted by: beat me to it on April 12, 2011 at 9:46 AM | PERMALINK

Ted Kennedy supporters (of whom I was not one) painted Carter as too liberal? Even by clueless Obot standards that's moronic.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 12, 2011 at 9:47 AM | PERMALINK

No Ted Kennedy supporters shot Carter down from the left which in the end only led to conservatives successfully establishing the myth of the ultra liberal super failure Jimmy Carter, and gave us St Ronald Reagan.

I'm glad you asked.

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 9:55 AM | PERMALINK

Liberalism as a creed is about to die. I can appreciate complexity and partial victories as well as anyone. But this is stark. Obama's apparent unwillingness to fight on our behalf is tantamount to betrayal. Whether the WSJ is correct in this particular instance is beside the point. That we're even having this discussion shows how advanced the crisis is.

Posted by: walt on April 12, 2011 at 9:58 AM | PERMALINK

Anyone who trusts the WSJ as an honest or objective source of information deserves their fate.

The upping of the National Debt is the one area that President Obama can truly and easily play hardball, follow through holding their position and come out looking better. I understand progressives doubts though.

Why? Well, here we are after two years of President Obama's first term and we have yet to see him play hardball once. So I'm hoping this will be his first.

Posted by: kindness on April 12, 2011 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

It seems that bashing Obama is the flavour du jour. Will someone give me a viable alternative?
-one that can get elected?

Posted by: DAY on April 12, 2011 at 10:02 AM | PERMALINK

Many bad things happen in the world without there being an immediate remedy. Obama screwing the pooch is one. That doesn't mean people have to give themselves an auto-lobotomy and pretend everything is hunky-dory. If it makes you sad to confront reality, then just go away and stop reading things you don't like.

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 12, 2011 at 10:06 AM | PERMALINK
No Ted Kennedy supporters shot Carter down from the left which in the end only led to conservatives successfully establishing the myth of the ultra liberal super failure Jimmy Carter, and gave us St Ronald Reagan.

Attacking somebody as insufficiently to the left establishes in voters' minds that he's too far to the left? Are you even capable of being coherent?

Posted by: Steve LaBonne on April 12, 2011 at 10:08 AM | PERMALINK


This is retarded, I'm sorry but there's no other word for it. Look at the graph I posted in the other thread. Federal spending during Obama is way up in comparison to clinton and bush. It will still be way up after this 1% of inconsequencial cuts.

As if "higher spending" ever were a liberal goal in itself and not a conservative talking point. As stated in comments to Steves earlier blog: Reagan signed the highest tax increase in the history of the nation during similar circumstances. So obviously he was a pussy and a traitor to the conservative cause.

I would say that you are so eager to even take the word betrayal into your mouth and assume bad faith about the current progressive standard bearer is a sympton of deep dysfunction in the progressive movement.

Bill Clinton looked into the camera and proclaimed "the era of Big Government" over. He signed welfare reform. Was he also a traitor to the liberal cause? Both democratic presidents since Jimmy Carter? Was Carter sufficiently kosher? Then we have to go back to Lyndon. But hey Lyndon sent our young boys to die in Vietnam, was that acceptable?

Maybe it's the case that "the man" is always in charge no matter what you do, "the man" always wins?

Obama passed a health care law that will expand government paid healthcare to millions of poor americans through medicaid and pay private insurance for millions more poor americans, paid for by taxes on the rich.

That is f-king obviously progressive legislation, but see the netroots need to make a symbolic issue out of the public option, the nice, white academic netroots thinks that that is more important then poor, black, mexicans and single moms getting health care, and they dont realize that Obama cant tout that achievement because then he becomes the nigger in chief giving handouts to the minorities.

Check out what actually got cut and what didnt in the comments to Steves previous post.

But the netroots are more hot for a president that gives the appearance of delivering and boasts and swaggers like the republicans do. Like Nixon did after he humiliated McGovern, like Reagan did after he humiliated Carter, like Bush did after he humiliated Dukakis.

What people with good hearts but thick heads and poor guidance fail to grasp is that those circumstances didnt fall like manna from heaven one day when Saint Ronald #40 got inspired to exercise his mojo. There was a time - a long time - from the great depression until ca 1980 where the repubs would have been rewarded with certain and humiliating defeat had they chosen to be proud movement conservatives, where compromising was the norm for republicans.

But what happened was that a - small at first, but extremely vocal - minority, grassroots movement if you will worked ceaselessly night and day to advocate the different causes that we today associate with “movement conservatism”.

People that were frightened by advancements equal rights for gays, women and blacks. People horrified at the seeming triumf of science and the modern world over christianity. People that liked to hunt. Rich people that payed high taxes. And so on… I dare you to find one republican president before Ronald Reagan that “stood up” for “conservative principles” in the way you expect Obama to do (whose name isnt Barry Goldwater and who didnt lose the popular vote by 22,5% in 1964).

There’s a reason why it wasnt any (sitting) president that ever served as that knight in shining armor for conservatives that you are so shocked to not find in Obama.

Thats because when you advocate, when you f-kin understand how you actually go about moving the Overton window - you understand that the advocate will risk overreaching, he will risk a backlash and he will risk being discredited. If that advocate is the sitting president of the united states, and you have reason to believe that your enemies will get to write the history of what went down, the price of failure can be very steep.

McGovern and Carter and Dukakis should be illuminating examples. Those traumas are the reason why our heads are still not screwed on right after all these years and we keep wanting to make back-assed choices all the time to get our dignity back.

Who knows what Goldwater would have done to the repubs, hade not old bigoted dixie south and the vietnam war fallen into their laps?

So you see, the little fairy tale fantasy dream of magically reclaiming our balls that know nothing charlatans like Hamsher et al keeps dangling under our nose while whispering that we only have to click our heels and wish - how that becomes reality starts with her, with us going out in the real world, pulling our reel amuricans mantle over our sholder and starting to preach the gospel that conservatives are dangerous, out of touch, and out to ruin it for real hardworking amuricans taking away their right to choose, selling them out to big business all that good stuff. And going to the ballot in every freaking election and voting for the plausible candidate who delivers whatevers feasible, but at least a little bit more than candidate(R).

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

@Steve LaBonne

Are you capable of reading for comprehension? Kennedy supporters shot Carter down from the left, Reagen and movement conservatives took over, Reagan and movement conservatives wrote the history on Carter, since neither Carter supporters nor Kennedy supporters had the means to accomplish that feat.

Kennedy supporters "firebaggery" in the end brought on the age of movement conservatism, the death for a generation of energy conservation and independence and health care for all americans as political issues. Funny that.

History will repeat itself, if people are allowed to be this stupid and easily fooled.

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 10:26 AM | PERMALINK

It isn't 1950. The WH doesn't need a week to knock down the rumors. Even Sarah Palin can figure out teh twitter.

If the WH wants to come out strong on a clean bill and put the rumor-mongering to rest...

Posted by: Square1 on April 12, 2011 at 10:27 AM | PERMALINK

I'd like to point to all the times that the commenters here crafted strong liberal policies that they successfully negotiated into reality, upon which Obama undercut it and sold us out; but of course, it's never happened.

You don't like Obama's abilities to deal with Republicans? Stop bitching and do something about it. Write a letter. Organize a protest. But for god's sake, stop blaming Obama because he's not your Superman. Calling him weak only weakens him. That's what the WSJ article was intended to do, and by accepting it as truth, you're making it more likely to become true. Power is perception.

Posted by: Doctor Biobrain on April 12, 2011 at 10:32 AM | PERMALINK

@Danny: you are full of nonsense.

First, nobody expects Obama to be an unabashed liberal advocate. But we expect him to push the Overton window left instead of right.

Second, when you attack Jane Hamsher you reveal yourself to not be a liberal. Jane Hamsher is not a "sitting president". She is not an elected official at all. She is a liberal advocate. If you dont like what she (or Greenwald or other principled liberals) says then you just don't want liberal policies.

Posted by: square1 on April 12, 2011 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

@Doctor Biobrain:

You make no sense. We live in a representative democracy. When we don't like what our representatives are doing then telling them we are unhappy and, if necessary, replacing the representatives IS "doing something about it".

If you are sick of reading about Obama being weak every time that he acts weak then why don't YOU write a letter to him and ask him to act stronger so that you won't have to keep defending him.

This is an open political forum. People are going to express their honest views. If you want to live in denial of what people think then just don't read the comment threads instead of asking the rest of us to self-censor.

Posted by: square1 on April 12, 2011 at 10:54 AM | PERMALINK


Obama has provably pushed the Overton window left:

- Its once again assumed that we should seek UN approval for foreign intervention.
- Obama is at any time vocal about "good, effective" government being the issue not "big or small government". Compare and marvel to Clintons "the era of Big Government is over". If you think Bush went left of Clinton you must be stoned out of your mind.
- As stated elsewhere, federal spending as a percentage of GDP is 25% today, it was 19% when Clinton left office. Obamas and the democrats recent "cave in" amounts to 1% out of that or .25% not to confuse you to much.
- The 30 year hegemony of "deregulation is good" is broken and over.
- Gays in the military are here to stay.
- O passed a law that will pay for free or heavily subsidized health care for millions of minority and poor americans and pay for it by taxing the rich. But of course, you as a proud netrooter is not much interested in that but rather to have won the symbolic magical trick of pushing the public option through a senate of 50 republicans + bluedogs. "THE 60 VOTES WERE THERE, YOU GOTTA BELIEVE ME - JANE PROVED THAT OBAMA WAS IN A SECRET CONPIRACY WITH BIG PHARMA!!11!"
- 2 and a half years ago a majority of americans wondered if maybe we needed to have an official state sponsored policy of torturing our enemies, now they know we dont.

So, in other words - your full of b**shit. Even worse, you're full of b**lshit because professional "progressives" charlatans like Hamsher, serves their own powerhungry ends, filling you full of confused ideas about how moving the Overton window actually is accomplished (by adressing the general public, not by shooting down your allies).

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

"Danny's" post is very interesting and quite comprehensive; it is most likely based on his or her having lived through the era s/he details. I thought it was quite intelligent.

As for Obama and his multiple successes legislatively and moving the country in the right direction. I guess those don't count if he doesn't look like a tough guy, since only the image of the leader seems to count with most people.

But on Hamscher: she is no liberal. She is bitter and mean spirited and that thing with her joining forces with Norquist to try to 'get' rid of Rahm shows that she is only interested in power and exercising it to meet her own needs, whims and fancies. No 'liberal' I ever knew would have engaged in such pettiness and joined hands with the enemy as she did in such a stupid cause. She almost singlehandedly got everyone 'liberal' going against ACA because it didn't suit her ideas and her personal health needs for cheaper cancer drugs. Really there is no there there with her; no sense of anything beyond her own personal demands.

Posted by: jjm on April 12, 2011 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

You make it sound like Carter was ages ago :)

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 11:40 AM | PERMALINK


Rahm is, at best, a corporate whore douchebag who actively undermines liberals, obstructs Wall Street reform, and blocked true HCR.

At worst he was criminal who should have suffered justice for his misdeeds vis a vis Fannie and Freddie. Too bad we will never have a fair investigation because the statute has run.

Even if you disagree with Hamsher, the suggestion that she is some "professional left" who is an opportunist is revolting? Where the fuck were you when FDL was covering the Bush administrations lies on yellowcake? On smearing Plame? Etc.,etc.?

And what are you doing now to bring the treatment of Bradley Manning to light?

Did you stand up for ACORN when the WH bailed? FDL did. What about Shirley Sherrod? Or Van Jones? Did you attack the WH and Congressional Dems "joined hands with the enemy" to defund ACORN and throw liberals under the bus?

Or do you only care about the "professional douchebag" wing of the party.

Posted by: square1 on April 12, 2011 at 12:04 PM | PERMALINK


1) Name one progressive politician that held high office and were acceptable to you. The higher the better of course.

2) This: "On smearing Plame? Etc.,etc.?

And what are you doing now to bring the treatment of Bradley Manning to light?"

Came up from another firebagger in a Balloon Juice comments thread. What is your position on Manning? Is it perhaps - like Greenwald - that Manning is “a whistle-blower acting with the noblest of motives”, and “a national hero similar to Daniel Ellsberg.”

Because, see what Manning did, was exactly what Scooter Libby did, he released classified intelligence to the press. Only thing, Scooter outed Plame, Manning stole and leaked 250 K diplomatic cables, making it provably impossible for Manning to judge if they were

a) in the public interest.
b) risked harming our national interests.
c) risked putting our citizens at risk.

Now if you think it was imoral, illegal and deserving of punishment to out Plame, how can one not find that Mannings (alleged) leak was likewise imoral, illegal and deserving of punishment (if he is guilty of course, we may note that Greenwald is apparently assuming he is).

Now in the Balloon Juice comments there were furthermore rehashed the various accusations of bad treatment of Manning while in detention but it was achingly clear that nothing was proven and that everything hinged on assuming bad faith and lying on the part of the officials in charge, without any hard evidence.

I'm certainly no expert on Manning, but I would encourage you to read and respond to "Temporarily Max McGee (soon enough to be Andy K again)" post here:

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 12:18 PM | PERMALINK

ACORN, Herrod, Van Jones. I think it's commendable to stand up for all three. To the extent that FDL did I commend FDL, much in the same way as I commend Joseph Stalin for helping us rid the world of Nazism, in a way that that was nice, but we'd still have been better off without him (no further comparisons, and I'm for clarity not wishing death on Hamsher).

But I think that the sane way to "stand up" for ACORN, VanJones and Herrod is attacking, punishing and weakening the bigots, half bigots in this country like O'Keefe just to name one and those who feed and makes political hay off the bigots, like republicans and FoxNews.

See, they are the ones that makes it a fact that while we may have gotten so far as to elect a half black president, that president may hate white people if he scolds the police for arresting a black academic on the way home to his villa in a white neighbourhood. When those people lose power thats the day our half black president can voice ballsy, untimid outrage at racial smears without risking the political support he needs to pass legislation that will soon bring healthcare to millions of minority citizens.

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 12:37 PM | PERMALINK

Yo, Danny! You my boyo!!! Go baby!!

Posted by: chi res on April 12, 2011 at 12:53 PM | PERMALINK

Are cheering me on or mocking me? There's too many !:s in there.

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 1:08 PM | PERMALINK

Sorry, I was excited!!! Definitely cheering!

Posted by: chi res on April 12, 2011 at 1:56 PM | PERMALINK

In that case: thanks! I deserve it I think, having to put up with so much firebagger nonsense ;)

Posted by: Danny on April 12, 2011 at 2:36 PM | PERMALINK
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