February 14, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: The Tired Ones: ObamaCare is taxing in more ways than one.

Which raises a question: What made Fournier and Powers think they had to defend ObamaCare in the first place? In Powers’s case, an answer suggests itself: Cast in the role of “Fox News liberal,” perhaps she feels obliged to stay on that side most of the time (though one suspects her Fox bosses would be tolerant of that particular heterodoxy).

But Fournier? He’s not supposed to be a partisan. “Like so many political columnists inside the Beltway, Fournier regularly exhibits a devotion to even handedness,” notes Mediaite.com’s Noah Rothman. “With a near pious commitment, no criticism of the Democratic Party can be issued without a commensurate nod to the faults and foibles of the Republican Party, and vice versa.”

True, during a two-decade career at the Associated Press, including a stint as Washington bureau chief, Fournier moved the venerable wire service away from straight news and toward more-opinionated writing, which he called “accountability journalism.” This column has been highly critical of that effort, beginning in 2007, but Fournier insisted back then: “We can be provocative without being partisan. We can be truth-tellers without being editorial writers.”

In his current role as a columnist, he is free to be partisan or ideological if he wants. But Rothman is right to observe that Fournier continues to prefer the role (or perhaps it is a mere conceit) of above-it-all centrist.

As I’ve said before, he’s significantly better than the average, actually, but the bar is very, very low.