I just posted these comments to the Economist article: More nonsense about Europe and America
While I generally like the Economist for the different view it has on the world and the US, it is often long on opinion and short on analysis.
And I think it reflects the same media obsession with political theatrics, and failures to observe the substance or lack thereof, that I think helps drive American politics to the brink.
Sure, there are plenty of grounds on which to criticize Obama. But there are few grounds to critcize him that don't boomerang, because the failures that brought us here have been massive, and bipartisian, despite the acromony of the past two decades.
I'll leave aside your non-sequitor remarks about the church shooting. The image must be stuck in your mind, and had to come out somewhere, even if it did result in a journalistic lapse.
But I'm afraid that in making your (valid) point about the American Right's drumbeat of code words around "soclialism" and "Europeanism", you've engaged your own share of speaking in code. It's not Bill Clinton's associates, but his policies that make the comparison work. It's not what countries Obama mentions in his book, but his diplomatic actions as President, that make him so different than Bush II (and more like Bush I, as another commenter has pointed out).
Frankly, I don't know what the right is hollering about. It's hard to point to anything about Obama (other than being black) that is all that much different. Spending too much money? Reminds me of his predecessor, and Congress -- both parties. Foreign policy? He's not Bush II, but other than that demonstrable disaster, not that different than other recent Republicans.
I think the American Right is trying hard to distract us. And I think it's largely to distract us from failings that occurred on their watch. Although they had plenty of help in creating the current problems from the Democrats, they feel they "own" the territory of fiscal responsibility, small government, and foreign policy, so the failures sting so much more, and trigger attack as a defensive reaction.
It would be SO much more helpful, if instead, they'd focus on the issues. Work to restore Glass-Steigel. Sound the caution around bailing out failing companies contractually locked into massive management bonuses to be paid with taxpayer dollars. Warn of the bills to come due from the bailouts on borrowed money today. Of the credit crunch from excess government borrowing.
We desperately need our conservatives back, now, more than ever. But alas, they've been hijacked by a radical coterie of religious rightists, ideologues, talk show hosts, bloggers, and politicians willing to sell their soul and independence for their help in getting elected.
But most of all, it would help if the media would pay less attention to their howling, and more attention to the issues and the Right's neglect of the very foundation matters they profess to stand for. If they could get into print or on the tube by talking about realistic alternatives and sober forecasts, rather than dramatics -- we just might see a few more positive outcomes and a brighter future.