There’s a bit of chatter out there this morning to the effect that the same media establishment that hailed Paul Ryan’s proposals as “serious” has been mostly dismissive of Obama’s speech. Mark Halperin, for instance, complained that Obama “failed to offer a bold, paradigm-shifting budget proposal.”And Politico charged that the speech was “one of the most overtly partisan broadsides he’s ever delivered.”
All of which led Steve Benen to drolly note this morning that the same media that “drooled all over itself” praising Ryan’s plan is suddenly proving “hard to please.”
I wholly sympathize with that sentiment. But there’s another angle here that’s also worth considering. Halperin and Politico don’t define the media consensus. And the fact is that many Beltway establishment media figures, while expressing some reservations, actually hailed Obama’s plan as very serious indeed.
The Post editorial board praised Obama for “an important and welcome contribution to the debate,” and said the President is “correct to call for new taxes.” Joe Klein hailed Obama’s “sense of proportion and sanity.” Marc Ambinder’s piece described Obama as “reasonable” and “courageous.” The Times editorial board pronounced Obama “reinvigorated.” Fareed Zakaria declared the speech “important” and “serious.” The Los Angeles Times editorial board said Obama’s plan “offered more concrete steps than the GOP did.” Chris Cillizza pronounced the speech “successful.”
There are exceptions: Ron Fournier flirted with the notion that Obama’s speech was overly political. Some news articles did describe it as “partisan.”
It’s true that some of the above voices hailing Obama’s performance are center left. But they represent an important chunk of the political media establishment. And the clear consensus among them was that Obama’s speech was eloquent and effective, and that his proposal was — yup — “serious.” Some of them even hinted that Obama’s plan is more serious than Ryan’s, if such a thing is possible.
Halperin and Politico are, if anything, in the minority. The important story here is that the Beltway media establishment by and large treated Obama’s speech with real seriousness of purpose, and in so doing, ended up giving it pretty high marks.