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September 14, 2010


In September 2010 Barnes writes that it's unprecedented for a president to attack an opposition leader in the House. Brendan compares this with Barnes's reporting in 2001 that the White House had attacked the opposition leader in the Senate. House. Senate. This may not be a distinction Brendan regards as significant, but it isn't an inconsistency in what Barnes has written.

Chait begins fibbing in his first sentence:

Fred Barnes and Karl Rove are outraged that the Obama administration is coordinating a campaign to whip up disapproval against John Boehner.

Actually, Barnes was criticizing attacks by the President personally. That's why Barnes said the attacks:
-- Made Mr. Obama look desperate
-- elevated Boehner by making him almost the equal of the President
-- would lead the media to ask Boehner to comment on Obama's statements and vice versa.

Only be mischaracterizings Barnes' column is Chait able to assert inconsistency. I agree that Barnes has written some other hack columns, but in this case it's Jonathan Chait who's the hack.

BTW there's a heck of a difference beween Daschle and Boehner. In 2001, Daschle had the power to obstruct President Bush's legislation, given the Senate filibuster rules. OTOH Boehner hasn't had the power to obstruct Democratic legislation, since the Dems have a big House majority and there's no filibuster in the House.

Fred Barnes - "Hack" - via Jon Chait.


Daschle was indeed the Senate Majority Leader in December 2001 and May 2002. (See: http://www.senate.gov/pagelayout/history/one_item_and_teasers/partydiv.htm) So there's little inconsistency here. It's just just rather blindly partisan. And isn't that the definition of a hack?

Let's see what happened here. President Obama decided to personally conduct a campaign of character assassination against Boehner, someone few Americans have heard of. Boehner hasn't done anything particuarly bad to the Dems and the Obama Administration. In fact, he hasn't had the power to harm them if he wanted to.

Furthermore, according to Brendan, bad-mouthing Boehner isn't even effective politics. Nor have I seen anyone dispute the idea that it's not a good idea for the President to personally get involved in this sort of mud fight. We acknowledge that Barnes' column is not inconsistent with positions he took in the past regarding bad-mouthing of Tom Daschle, because the situations are not parallel.

Nevertheless, Barnes's critcism of this unjustified, inappropriate, useless smear campaign makes him a hack, according to Barry and Brendan. I don't get it.

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