The Associated Press is blatantly proving it’s going to make Campaign 2012 a long, biased slog for Republicans. Just take their news coverage of jokes. On Thursday, Democratic objections to Mitt Romney were front and center in an article titled "Democrats criticize Romney for ‘unemployed’ joke." But on Tuesday, President Obama’s lame joke about no "shovel-ready" jobs was relegated to paragraph 16 of an article titled "Obama pledges focus on job creation." (As if we haven't heard that pledge before.) The Romney article began:
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) -- Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney told a group of out-of-work Floridians Thursday that "I'm also unemployed," quickly drawing criticism from Democrats who said it showed the former Massachusetts governor and multimillionaire was out of touch.
Then came DNC chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz in paragraph 3 attacking Romney’s joke as "insensitive" and "inappropriate." But on Tuesday, AP’s article on Obama stuck narrowly to the president and his arguments:
DURHAM, N.C. – Beset by a grim employment picture, President Barack Obama on Monday pledged to ease the way for businesses to expand hiring and offered assurances to an anxious public that he is focused on creating jobs — the top political issue heading into the 2012 election and the Achilles heel of his presidency.
"The sky is not falling," Obama said. But the president, in a state that he narrowly won in 2008, could not ignore dismal recent economic reports.
"Our economic challenges were years in the making," he told workers at an energy-efficient lighting plant in Durham, "and it will take years to get back to where we need to be."
Republicans didn’t surface (for one quote) until paragraph 13. Then the Obama joke was simply passed over without GOP objection:
At one point, Obama and the CEOs discussed the need to streamline contact permit approvals and poked fun at what had been the administration's pitch for the $800 billion economic stimulus program Congress approved in 2009. "Shovel-ready was not as shovel-ready as we expected," Obama said.
At least Kuehnenn’s acknowledgment of a "grim" economic picture that’s Obama’s "Achilles heel" is more realistic than this Kuehnenn happy-talk report from May 31 on how the president benefits from "an absence of negatives," complete with finding Republicans willing to say Obama will win re-election:
WASHINGTON (AP) — Six months after Republicans alarmed Democrats with a midterm election wave, President Barack Obama has shaken off the jitters and found his political footing despite sluggish economic growth and deep public anxiety about the direction of the country.
The White House now displays an air of confidence, bolstered in part by achievements such as the killing of Osama bin Laden by U.S. commandos and the financial success of an auto industry that Obama bailed out over the objections of many.
Obama is also benefiting from the absence of negatives. The economy, while lethargic, is growing. The private sector is creating jobs. Natural disasters, while deadly and plentiful, have not developed into governmental crises. Skyrocketing gas prices, which fed the public's economic fears, are now subsiding. And the GOP's signature budget plan, ambitious in its spending reductions, has lost its luster with the public.
"It is likely he will be re-elected, in my opinion," veteran Republican pollster Wes Anderson says.
What's more, the president appears to be enjoying the still lingering but more intangible effects of his election in 2008, a watershed for the nation. Polls show Obama with strong favorability and likability ratings even as he faces ambivalence over his handling of the presidency.
Former New Hampshire Republican Party chairman Fergus Cullen said the symbolic power of Obama's election as the first black president carries enormous good will that will be difficult for Republicans to overcome.
"Centrist voters and the ones who decide elections are still fundamentally rooting for the guy," Cullen said. "People who don't view politics in ideological terms give him the benefit of the doubt, and that is an incredible political asset to have."
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