The Huffington Post happily ran an Associated Press analysis by Josh Lederman that simply regurgitated Obama’s latest stump-speech complaint that the other side represents cynicism, but he still represents hope. The headline was "How 'hope' became Obama's fight against cynicism." Lederman never acknowledges the sorry state of Obama’s polling – that this is the lament of a man who’s lost all his shiny pre-presidential media gloss.
“With a mix of alarm and dismay, Obama has started musing about the dangers of cynicism in nearly every major public appearance,” Lederman warned. “The cautionary note has showed up in speeches to students and civil rights groups, at Democratic fundraisers — even in his meeting with Pope Francis.”
"It's easy to be cynical. In fact, these days it's kind of trendy," Obama told a crowd of thousands recently in Minneapolis. Cynicism may masquerade as wisdom, he said, but it can't liberate a continent, invent the Internet or send a man to the moon. "Cynicism is a choice, and hope is a better choice."
But in Obama's stagnant second term, those inclined to cynicism haven't had to look far.
With Washington at a near-standstill politically, both parties have essentially written off prospects for any major legislation for the remainder of Obama's presidency. Obama's attempts to circumvent Congress to get things done have drawn rebukes from the Supreme Court and a threatened lawsuit from the House, casting a bright light on the state of Washington dysfunction.
"There were at least times in 2011, 2012 when we had big battles over things, but they usually wound up with something getting done," Obama's senior adviser, Dan Pfeiffer, said in an interview. Not anymore, he said. He blamed the poisonous atmosphere on six years of a concerted GOP strategy to breed cynicism for political advantage.
Obama's aides say he has always worried that Americans were tuning out their dysfunctional government. In his 2006 book, "The Audacity of Hope," Obama said Americans have no choice but to transcend the "dead zone" that American politics had become. And in a speech to the Democratic National Committee the next year, Obama implored voters "to stop settling for what the cynics say we have to accept."
Can’t AP and Lederman see that going around Congress to try and do everything through the executive branch is just as cynical and embittering as anything the Republicans have done to resist the Obama agenda? The charge of cynicism translates to this: Republicans don't really believe anything except in burying Barry.
Can’t they recall that Obamacare was forced through Congress despite never being popular, which caused the 2010 wave election? Can’t they acknowledge that perhaps Tea Party voters sent representatives to Washington with the goal of acting as a check and balance on Obama? Why can’t that be hopeful instead of cynical? Liberal reporters can never acknowledge that fighting against trillion-dollar deficits or stale reruns of government “stimulus” might be idealistic in some eyes?
It's blatantly obvious that the AP wouldn't have done this kind of story if George W. Bush hit the campaign trail complaining about how the liberals were all cynics and he represented Hope. The Washington Post’s free commuter tabloid Express ran a condensed version of this article with the headline "Obama's Message Takes Aim at Cynics." They snipped out the rebuttal by conservative blogger and radio host Erick Erickson:
"This is an Obama phenomenon," Erickson said. "As much as Republicans may be recalcitrant and refusing to work with the White House, the White House doesn't seem very willing to work with them either."
Obama isn't the only president to cast his own challenges through the broader lens of American malaise. When President Jimmy Carter felt beset by pessimism amid the energy crisis in 1979, he gave a startling speech warning that a "crisis of confidence" posed a fundamental threat to U.S. democracy. And in the run-up to the 1994 election when Democrats lost both chambers of Congress, President Bill Clinton offered a similar if more subdued warning. He blamed conservative talk radio for a "constant, unremitting drumbeat of negativism and cynicism."
You can see why the Posties snipped out this part. It could be said that Obama’s “cynicism” arguments are an indicator that the Democrats are headed for another bad year at the ballot box, as in 1980 or 1994.