In the eyes of many in the liberal media, President Obama can do no wrong. If he does, it's not his fault; he is simply a victim of circumstance, or he made the best decision he could given the options. One can tell news items portraying Obama in this light by their descriptions of problems in the passive voice.
Take yesterday's New York Times article by Jackie Calmes, for instance. The piece displays a conspicuous use of the passive voice in the headline: "Promise to Trim Deficit Is Growing Harder to Keep", instead of, say, "Obama's Policies Make Deficit Reduction Unlikely".
The refrain is getting old. When Obama's economic policies caused the debt to skyrocket, and didn't lead to recovery but rather to more federal spending aimed at shoring up the economy, it was because the recession was worse than the administration had planned. Obama's brilliant plans to raise taxes on businesses failed because Congress succumbed to political pressure. Anticipated savings in Iraq were nullified when it turned out winning a war in Afghanistan might actually require significant funding. And Medicare is already being cut to pay for the health care overhaul, so those cuts can't go towards drawing down the deficit. You see, it's never actually Obama's fault.
First, of course, is the obligatory "recession was worse than we had planned" apologia:
A deeper recession and slower recovery than the administration initially forecast have increased the tab for economic stimulus measures beyond the original $787 billion package, adding hundreds of billions of dollars for programs like unemployment relief and tax credits for homebuyers…
“The White House faces a tough challenge preparing a budget with very different goals: cutting the deficit while maintaining stimulative policies designed to keep the recovery going,” said Thomas S. Kahn, staff director for the House Budget Committee.
Calmes buys right into the whopper of a liberal talking point that the economy could not possibly have improved without massive spending programs charged to the taxpayers' collective credit card. She trumpets what is perhaps the greatest economic fallacy of our time: that government can either spend more, leading to economic recovery but raising the federal deficit, or it can spend less, reduce the deficit, but leave the economy to stagnate. Keynes would be proud.
While managing to avoid saying words like "increase", "raise", or "hike", Calmes laments Congress's refusal to collect more in taxes from companies that do business overseas and wealthy Americans. That raising taxes on people who create jobs (investors and businesses) would likely deepen the recession seems lost on the author.
Recalling, though not explicitly mentioning, Obama's campaign line that he would pay for recovery spending by drawing down the Iraq war, Calmes notes "The savings Mr. Obama once projected from winding down the war in Iraq are being eroded by a bigger buildup in Afghanistan than he had initially contemplated."
There's that passive voice again: "…are being eroded". Perhaps it would have been more accurate to say: "Obama's escalation of the war in Afghanistan has eroded the savings he projected from drawing down the conflict in Iraq." Say what you will about the Afghan war, but at least admit that this was not some random happening, and that Obama himself nullified the savings from Iraq by pumping funds into Afghanistan.
"Meanwhile," Calmes continues, "the biggest tool usually employed to chisel away at projected deficits — shaving Medicare payments to health care providers — is already being used to offset the costs of overhauling the health care system." And who was it who put that overhaul in motion? Ah yes, President Obama. Liberals can pontificate all they want about the necessity of so-called health care reform, but it is indisputable that the policy would prevent Obama from paying down the deficit with Medicare cuts (as the cuts will go toward paying for the bill).
Finally, in the last sentence of the article, Calmes states: "even supporters are saying Mr. Obama cannot keep both his promise to bring deficits under control and his vow not to raise taxes on anyone making less than $250,000." But she refuses to place any blame at the President's feet, neglecting to note the many areas in which Obama could have opted for something other than run-of-the-mill liberalism.
Calmes strives to support Obama by neglecting to attribute the failings of his policies to the policies themselves. If Obama doesn't succeed, by her logic, the deck was stacked against him.