Press Plays 'Obama Distraction' Card Once Again, This Time Over MN and IL Senate Seats

January 6th, 2009 9:07 AM

obama3Why can't everyone just settle down, get out of the way, get rid of the "distractions," and let Barack Obama do his magic? That seems to be a recurring media meme during this presidential transition period.

Here are just a few examples in just the past 30 days:

  • In a December 12 "analysis" piece at Reuters, Steve Holland opened by telling readers that "A political scandal that led to the arrest of Illinois' governor has become an unwelcome distraction for President-elect Barack Obama as he tries to keep his focus on preparing to run the country."
  • Amanda Paulson's Christian Science Monitor report on December 23 about Obama's internal investigation of contacts between his team and Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich fretted that "As the saga of Gov. Rod Blagojevich and his alleged “political corruption crime spree” has played out over the past two weeks, it’s been an unwelcome distraction for another politician from Illinois: President-elect Obama."
  • And yesterday, Brent Baker of NewsBusters caught ABC World News Tonight anchor Dan Harris worrying that Bill Richardson's unexpected withdrawal as Commerce Secretary nominee might be "a distraction in the key early days."

AFP's Jitendra Joshi offered up the latest example yesterday:

In distraction for Obama, chaos stalks new Senate

The new US Senate is set to convene in a swirl of allegations of corruption, voter fraud and dynastic nepotism that threatens to dog the early days of Barack Obama's presidency.

..... The senatorial to-and-fro is an unwelcome distraction for Obama as he prepares to take office on January 20, reliant on a focused Congress to enact his ambitious plans including a mammoth economic stimulus package.

Republican blocking tactics in the Senate could undermine that agenda, especially if the Democrats' provisional working majority of 59-41 is weakened by court challenges.

The circus surrounding Burris -- and more specifically around Illinois Governor Rod Blagojevich -- is a distraction closer to home for the president-elect following his weekend move to Washington from Chicago. 

You see, it's such a shame that unimportant things like criminal investigations and election disputes are happening. Apparently, nothing should get in the way of Barack Obama and his appointed agenda.

By taking up precious column inches and bandwidth bellyaching about "distractions," the press is also able to avoid explaining how different the agenda of Obama the president-elect appears to be in comparison to the agenda of Obama the candidate, and how remarkably fluid it seems to be on a nearly day-to-day basis.

Not so coincidentally, if that agenda, whatever it is, fails to materialize or to become law, the press can cite the distractions it has been dutifully qualifying as convenient excuses. After all, discussing what might have been wrong with the agenda in the first place would be so, well, distracting.

Cross-posted at