Thou Shalt Not Dis’ Our Dear Leader

Brent Bozell on the media’s outrage over Netanyahu’s blasphemous chutzpah in daring to lecture our president:

…Jeffrey Goldberg of The Atlantic magazine (and website) posted an item on May 20 headlined: “Dear Mr. Netanyahu, Please Don’t Speak to My President That Way.” Netanyahu, he wrote, threw a “hissy fit.” That pretty much encapsulated the American media’s reaction. “Cowboy diplomacy” is just fine from time to time — if the man in the saddle is Obama.

On that night’s “NBC Nightly News,” reporter Andrea Mitchell was finding anonymous distaste for Netanyahu from other Israeli officials, never mind that his country was unquestionably applauding him.

“I was told that even some Israeli officials, David, were uncomfortable with what they acknowledge was a lecturing tone by the prime minister. But he felt very strongly he had to say this to the world, to President Obama’s face.”

By the time Sunday’s “Meet the Press” rolled around, Mitchell heightened the attack on Netanyahu for daring to lecture the Almighty Barack.

“Netanyahu seized on it. Even before he got on the plane, he criticized the president, and in such a fashion! He lectured him in the Oval Office. And if you look at that picture that you have up there right now, it was a stone-faced Barack Obama and Netanyahu basically treating him like a schoolboy.”

And then, some more anonymity: “People even who work for Netanyahu, some Israeli officials, told him later that he went too far. That it was, it was really rude and that there would be blowback to this.”

Mitchell’s NBC sure was less outraged when Venezuelan dictator Hugo Chavez came to the U.N. in 2006 and denounced President Bush as a devil.

Kelly O’Donnell was downright blase: “Chavez repeatedly called the president ‘a devil’ and labeled him a ‘Yankee terrorist.’ The administration quickly dismissed the swipe. … And some say that the Venezuelan president cannot be so easily ignored because he has so much oil.”…

Jessica St. Clair added: “He’s saying what everybody wants to say, and so now we love him.”

Thanks, NBC, for always standing up for our president, regardless of party.

How about when that idiot Iraqi journalist threw a shoe at President Bush’s head in December 2008, screaming, “This is your goodbye (present), you dog”? On NBC’s “Today,” reporter Richard Engel excused the shoe-tosser because he had relatives killed in Baghdad.

Reporter Chuck Todd went further, virtually endorsing the Bush insult, saying that “in our last poll we had 80 percent said they wouldn’t miss him,” and “He’s already being sort of kicked out of office by the American people.”

The other networks were even worse. ABC’s “World News” put “Folk Hero?” on screen as anchor Elizabeth Vargas trumpeted this “instant celebrity to many of his countrymen.” Then-employed and more perky CBS anchor Katie Couric hailed how “many Iraqis are calling him a hero.” Reporter Elizabeth Palmer snidely concluded the man “should do jail time, said the Iraqi bloggers, because he missed.”

Did anyone disagree with Obama’s position on Israel? Apparently not, if we are to trust the press. None of the network morning shows found critics of Obama’s remarks on Israel. CBS’s “Early Show” instead turned to former Clinton State Department spokesman Jamie Rubin.

Anchor Erica Hill suggested Netanyahu couldn’t “give an inch” politically to the president on Israeli security. Rubin replied: “This is unfortunate for everyone, I think. Because President Obama doesn’t have the huge popularity in Israel that, perhaps, President Bush had, it’s easier for Prime Minister Netanyahu to have a fight with him.”

CBS’s liberal guest insisted it was “unfortunate for everyone” that Obama wasn’t more popular in Israel, with the clear implication that he should be. Our media feel Obama’s pain so intensely that they can’t bear the thought that someone would say an unkind word to him, especially with their cameras rolling. Their outrage at Netanyahu is only a small indicator of how much they’re going to hate Obama’s Republican opponents in the months to come.

And Shelby Steele goes further than Bozell in identifying the real source of Obama idolatry (Hint: It’s not his astounding brilliance nor his alleged “eloquence.”):

Many of the Republican presidential hopefuls should be able to beat President Obama in 2012. This president has a track record now and, thus, many vulnerabilities. If he is not our “worst president,” as Donald Trump would have it, his sweeping domestic initiatives—especially his stimulus package and health-care reform—were so jerry-built and high-handed that they generated a virtual revolution in America’s normally subdued middle class.

The president’s success in having Osama bin Laden killed is an exception to a pattern of excruciatingly humble and hesitant leadership abroad…

And yet Republicans everywhere ask, “Who do we have to beat him?” In head-to-head matchups, Mr. Obama beats all of the Republican hopefuls in most polls.

The problem Mr. Obama poses for Republicans is that there has always been a disconnect between his actual performance and his appeal. If Hurricane Katrina irretrievably stained George W. Bush, the BP oil spill left no lasting mark on this president. Mr. Obama’s utter confusion in the face of the “Arab spring” has nudged his job-approval numbers down, but not his likability numbers, which Gallup has at a respectable 47.6%. In the mainstream media there has been a willingness to forgive this president his mistakes, to see him as an innocent in an impossible world. Why?

There have really always been two Barack Obamas: the mortal man and the cultural icon. If the actual man is distinctly ordinary, even a little flat and humorless, the cultural icon is quite extraordinary. The problem for Republicans is that they must run against both the man and the myth. In 2008, few knew the man and Republicans were walloped by the myth. Today the man is much clearer, and yet the myth remains compelling.

What gives Mr. Obama a cultural charisma that most Republicans cannot have? First, he represents a truly inspiring American exceptionalism: He is the first black in the entire history of Western civilization to lead a Western nation—and the most powerful nation in the world at that. And so not only is he the most powerful black man in recorded history, but he reached this apex only through the good offices of the great American democracy.

Thus his presidency flatters America to a degree that no white Republican can hope to compete with. He literally validates the American democratic experiment, if not the broader Enlightenment that gave birth to it.

He is also an extraordinary personification of the American Dream: Even someone from a race associated with slavery can rise to the presidency. Whatever disenchantment may surround the man, there is a distinct national pride in having elected him.

All of this adds up to a powerful racial impressionism that works against today’s field of Republican candidates. This is the impressionism that framed Sen. John McCain in 2008 as a political and cultural redundancy—yet another older white male presuming to lead the nation.

The point is that anyone who runs against Mr. Obama will be seen through the filter of this racial impressionism, in which white skin is redundant and dark skin is fresh and exceptional. This is the new cultural charisma that the president has introduced into American politics…

During the last presidential campaign, I speculated that the media’s apotheosis of Obama (and to an extent, Hillary) would make it much more difficult for a bright, articulate white guy ever to get elected president again because the media would implicitly (if not explicitly) portray such a candidate as a “return to our racist, sexist past.” And forget about nominating a woman. To liberals, a Republican woman is a contradiction in terms. Remember when Gloria Steinhem called Margaret Thatcher a “female impersonator”?

Clearly, this is why so few white guys are willing to take on Obama’s “cultural charisma” despite his almost completely undistinguished performance. Some have noted that no president since FDR has been re-elected with an unemployment number of 8% or higher. Obama has a good chance of being the first since FDR, and if he does win re-election despite high unemployment, he can thank his race.

Ironic, isn’t it?

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