I’m not a Bill Keller hater, I think he turned the NYT around after Howell Raines ran it into the ground, but I find it surprising that he understands the American political/media landscape so poorly:
It is partly a failure of presidential communications that Republicans have succeeded in parodying each of his accomplishments, turning “stimulus” into an expletive, portraying “Obamacare” as socialized medicine and attacking the Dodd-Frank financial reform as an assault on capitalism.
It’s not just that he has failed to own his successes. He has in a sense failed to define himself. He is one of our more elusive presidents, not deeply rooted in any place or movement. David Remnick’s biography called Obama a shape-shifter. At the fringes, that makes him vulnerable to conspiratorial slanders: he is a socialist, a foreign imposter, a jihadist, an adherent of black liberation theology. To a less paranoid audience, his affect comes across as aloofness or ambivalence.
Obama is described as a soshulist, a foreign imposter, a jihadist, an adherent of black liberation theology. Clinton was described as a soshulist, a redneck imposter, a mass murderer. Al Gore was described as a soshulist, a phony hypocritical imposter. John Kerry was described as a soshulist, a fake war hero imposter. I don’t have the same energy, but you an do the same with Howard Dean, Michael Dukakis….And lest we forget, to less paranoid audiences Clinton’s, Gore’s, Kerry’s, Dean’s and Dukakis’s affects were found too weepy, too aloof, too aloof, too angry, and too aloof, respectively.
The right-wing media machine will not accept any Democratic presidential candidate as legitimate. Full stop.
This just isn’t that complicated.
It’s a cliche to say that insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results, but what would you call seeing the same thing over and over again and coming up with a different explanation each time?