My nominee for Media Puppet of the Day (we should consider making such an award a daily or weekly event) is Kathleen Hennessey at the Los Angeles Times.
From her perch at the paper's Washington bureau, she wrote a pathetic story today about how President Obama is so much more relaxed now that he's in his second term. Among other howlers, Hennessey claims that "Obama's vacations have been rare, brief and regularly interrupted by crises at home and overseas." Key paragraphs -- as many as I think readers will be able to stand, and no more -- follow the jump (HT to NB commenter Gary Hall at another post; bolds are mine):
Second term brings out a more relaxed Obama
No longer facing voter polls, the president can show some emotion, go off-script, take the first lady to a lavish Valentine's Day dinner, even go golfing with Tiger Woods. Historians warn against overconfidence.
Finally unburdened by worries about running for another election, President Obama is acting different these days.
Second-term Obama is noticeably quicker to speak his mind and get personal on subjects he once avoided. His schedule at times ignores concerns about "optics," Washington-speak for what voters might perceive.
On Friday, for example, the president delivered an unexpectedly personal, and at times off-the-cuff, speech in Chicago about the root causes of urban violence. The famously reserved president spoke bluntly about the Kenyan-born father whom he barely knew, and his wayward high school days in Hawaii.
Obama's vacations have been rare, brief and regularly interrupted by crises at home and overseas. Most recently, he suspended his Christmas holiday in Hawaii to rush back to Washington for a few days to deal with congressional negotiations over the so-called fiscal cliff.
The White House stressed that the president took his work to the Floridian Yacht and Golf Club.
... it is hard to imagine Obama taking that sort of getaway before the election.
... Obama's Valentine's Day date with First Lady Michelle Obama almost certainly would have become campaign fodder a few months ago. The first couple went to minibar, a Washington restaurant so avant-garde it doesn't use capital letters, where the nightly prix fixe dinner for two runs $450, not including drinks, taxes and tips, according to its website. That's more than a week's pay at the $9-per-hour minimum wage Obama is advocating (and which is unlikely to go anywhere in Congress).
On January 4, Hawaii News Now estimated that at his current rate, Obama will take 168 vacation days, supposedly less than the 174 taken by Bill Clinton. The article disingenuously said that "President George W. Bush took all or part of 297 days at his Texas ranch" without labeling them as "vacation days," because they weren't. They were "I don't want to be in Washington, so let's go home" days. The article gave the same treatment to Ronald Reagan's 369 days at his Santa Barbara ranch. Last time I checked, staying at your home isn't a vacation.
Of course, it isn't just the number of vacation days Obama has taken. What's especially galling is their relatively jet-setting nature in the midst of the continued and protracted suffering so many millions of Americans are enduring as a result of Obama's misguided fiscal and economic policies.
If a Republican or conservative president were doing such things during a recession or tepid economic recovery, we'd never hear the end of it from the press. But for Hennessey, our Media Puppet of the Day, it's all good -- I guess because Obama and his apparatchiks say it is.
Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.