What a difference four years makes:
Obama’s finest speeches do not excite. They do not inform. They don’t even really inspire. They elevate. They enmesh you in a grander moment, as if history has stopped flowing passively by, and, just for an instant, contracted around you, made you aware of its presence, and your role in it. He is not the Word made flesh, but the triumph of word over flesh, over color, over despair. The other great leaders I’ve heard guide us towards a better politics, but Obama is, at his best, able to call us back to our highest selves, to the place where America exists as a glittering ideal, and where we, its honored inhabitants, seem capable of achieving it, and thus of sharing in its meaning and transcendence.
– Ezra Klein, Journolist founder, January 3, 2008, now with the Washington Post and Bloomberg.com, where, this past Wednesday, he wrote, “Expect Obama Speech to Yield Lots of Talk, No Action:”
I’ve stopped pretending that the president’s jobs speech scheduled for next week is going to matter. I’m tired of speculating about what it will contain and whether its proposals will be big or small, bold or timid.
Here is what will actually happen: President Barack Obama will give a speech. It will include a mixture of ideas the administration has pushed for some time (extending the payroll tax cut, investing in infrastructure, passing trade agreements) and some modest new additions (a tax cut for companies that hire new workers, for example). Relatively few people will tune in to the speech; of those who do, most will be either committed Obama supporters or equally committed detractors.
On the other hand, CNN’s consistency never fails to leave one unimpressed:
The Americans who are comparing him to those remarkable predecessors [Lincoln, FDR, JFK, Clinton] are putting a lot of faith in a man they barely know.
I think it was an interesting point that you’ve made, which is, people don’t really know who Barack Obama is. And you don’t. And you don’t mean obviously recognizing him; what you mean is that, what does he, actually at his essence, stand for?
— CNN’s Piers Morgan, interviewing Frank Rich yesterday.
All that MSM cognitive dissonance is occurring so unexpectedly, of course.
Related: On his radio show today, Rush Limbaugh compared Morgan’s “unexpected” cluelessness regarding Obama with this interchange between Charlie Rose and Tom Brokaw on October 30 of 2008, immediately before election night:
ROSE: I don’t know what Barack Obama’s worldview is
BROKAW: No, I don’t either.
ROSE: We don’t know how he really sees where China is.
BROKAW: We don’t know a lot about Barack Obama and the universe of his thinking about foreign policy.
ROSE: I don’t really know. And do we know anything about the people who are advising him?
BROKAW: You know, it’s an interesting question.
ROSE: He’s principally known through his autobiography and through very aspirational [sic] speeches.
BROKAW: Two of them. Now, I don’t know what books he’s read.
ROSE: What do we know about the heroes of Barack Obama?
BROKAW: There’s a lot about him we don’t know.
Funny, it was only just a few years ago that CNN, NBC and PBS all advertised themselves as being in the news business. How did they manage to sleep through all of 2008, pray tell?