AP's Labeling: Obama the 'Populist Crusader' vs. 'Hardline Conservatives'

AP political writer Charles Babington underlined how President Obama hoped to "divide and conquer" Republicans as California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger will "embrace" Obama's alleged stimulus on Thursday. Obama's opponents are hardliners, but his GOP friends have no label:

Republican governors have had mixed reactions to the massive measure. Some hardline conservatives, such as Mark Sanford of South Carolina, have rejected portions of the economic bounty.

Other GOP governors, including Charlie Crist of Florida, have welcomed Obama and the stimulus money. Schwarzenegger is casting his lot with that group.

No "hardline conservatives" were allowed to speak against Obama in the Babington piece. But he suggests Obama will be playing a dashing political role:

Throughout the trip, Obama is playing the role of the embattled populist crusader, helping average Americans fight entrenched interests on Capitol Hill and Wall Street.

He said Southern California's weather and conversations are much nicer than in Washington. The conversation Wednesday was more one-sided, to be sure, as the Costa Mesa crowd cheered, 2,500 miles from the Capitol's shadow.

He defended his ambitious plan to overhaul health care, energy, education, taxes and spending policies in the coming months, against unidentified forces aligned against him.

Following the usual media template, Babington described Obama's plans as "ambitious" rather than "liberal," let alone "hardline liberal." It's also sneaky to suggest Obama will "overhaul" taxes, not raise them.

Babington was willing to acknowledge Obama's town meeting was a little one-sided, but when President Bush held town meetings, reporters often emphasized that "dissent" was screened out at the door. That suggests that liberal reporters don't like it when liberals can't get in. They don't have the same ardor when conservatives are not allowed. They do the same thing in their news stories all the time -- like this one.

Associated Press Charles Babington
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