We frequently enter into lulls in the world of political battle in which the news media feels it is safe to pose as though it is doing actual journalism. With today's lead, Politico has informed us we have entered one of those lulls.
It makes sense, too. Now that John Boehner and the Republican congress have been completely routed in the Fiscal Cliff debate by Obama and his media pals (like Politico), there is no real downside to bringing up the fact that this president has amassed a staggering and dangerously unsustainable amount of debt:
President Obama's debt problem
President Barack Obama won’t be able to enjoy much of a victory lap from his win over congressional Republicans on the fiscal cliff fight.
There are about 16.4 trillion reasons why.
The staggering national debt — up about 60 percent from the $10 trillion Obama inherited when he took office in January 2009 — is the single biggest blemish on Obama’s record, even if the rapid descent into red began under President George W. Bush. …
“The numbers — at some point it’s got to catch up or else we’re all going to die,” said Chris Chocola, head of the anti-tax Club for Growth, which opposed the cliff deal. “We have serious problems that are going unaddressed and we’re moving in the wrong direction.”
Obama was able to splinter his deeply divided Republican opponents over the issue of tax cuts for the wealthy. But a similar fate might await the president and his Democratic allies if he brokers a deal with the GOP that requires massive spending and entitlement cuts.
Oh, spare me, Politico. Where was all the hand-wringing and focus on this "staggering" "blemish" when it mattered -- you know, during the month-long debate we just went through that was supposed to end with something actually being done about what you call "the staggering national debt."
I'll tell you where Politico was: the same place the rest of the media was -- framing the Fiscal Cliff debate in a way that said the stakes were only about a meaningless tax increase that doesn't cover 1% of our deficit. And then, after Obama won that round, Politico and Company spent the next 36 hours propagandizing Obama's purely political victory as an economic victory for America.
Now that it doesn’t matter, however, Politico has decided to strike a pose as a serious beard-scratcher, murmuring thoughtfully and with great concern about a deficit so large no one thought such a number was possible the day before Obama was elected. Politico also wants to pretend Obama actually wants to do something about the deficit, when absolutely nothing he has done (beyond lip service) shows he's at all interested in anything other than exploding the size and scope of government.
Furthermore, Politico's headline is nearly as phony as the pose that goes with it.
Obama doesn’t have a "debt problem." Perception is reality, and the media has altered perception in a way that pretends there is no debt problem. Obama also doesn’t have a "debt problem" because the media refuses to make him pay any kind of political price for annual trillion dollar deficits. In short, Obama doesn’t have a "debt problem" because, when he's vulnerable to being held accountable for four years-and-counting of reckless, irresponsible spending, the media goes into Palace Guard mode, as we saw during the Fiscal Cliff negotiations.
Maybe I'm wrong, though; maybe when the Debt Ceiling debate kicks off in sixty days, Politico and its media brethren will put as much pressure on Obama and Democrats to cut spending as was put on Republicans to slit their own throats with a tax increase.
And maybe I'll build a time machine so I can successfully hit on Angie Dickinson in 1971.
Follow John Nolte on Twitter @NolteNC