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someone asked me recently, 'after 18 months, how do you feel about obama as president?'

someone asked me recently, 'after 18 months, how do you feel about obama as president?'

my answer was, and is, 'eh, he's ok'. he's not a great president, but nor is he a bad president. he seems like an ok president.

the problem really is not what type of president he is, but rather that we live in an age of 24 hour news cycles and myriad news sources and they live off of drama. saying 'president obama is doing an ok job' isn't dramatic. saying 'THE BP OIL SPILL!! IS THIS OBAMA'S KATRINA???' or 'IS OBAMA A MUSLIM SYMPATHIZER???' is dramatic. and so the cable news networks report the news in a way that is egregiously distorted and overly dramatic. again, saying 'politicians in washington are working on health care reform' isn't dramatic. saying 'IS OBAMA A SOCIALIST??? IS OBAMA GOING TO KILL SENIOR CITIZENS????' is dramatic.

the problem with the dramatic is that 99.9% of the time it isn't true, or it's an unsubtle misrepresentation of the truth. politics are, by definition, dull. if you want the reality of politics watch c-span. it's painfully dull. important, but dull. like politics.

the other problem with the dramatic is that it needs to constantly be followed with more drama. cnn and fox news and msnbc and etc and etc can't have drama one day and then reasoned, calm reporting the next day. they need DRAMA ALL THE TIME. the problem there? the world is not filled with quick, simple dramatic stories. so the cable news networks take undramatic news stories and make them dramatic 'OBAMA WINS NOBEL PEACE PRIZE! DOES HE DESERVE IT??? WILL HE GIVE IT BACK???' or they take marginal dramatic stories and make them HUGE, like the q'uran burning pastor in florida or the balloon boy (both of which would be immediately rejected by any responsible journalist or editor, as they're not relevant stories in any sense of the word).

the cable news networks want you to keep watching, so they need constant drama, even when drama doesn't exist. in drug terms it's called 'chasing the dragon'. once a crack addict is high he/she cannot stand to be less high. so they keep smoking more and more crack to try and maintain their high. you can see how this leads to all sorts of problems, both for the crack addict and for the cable news networks and their viewers... people get accustomed to dramatic news, and they want constant drama even when there isn't constant drama. so the media desperately try to find dramatic stories or to re-frame undramatic stories as dramatic (which is kind of absurd, actually, as politicians are some of the most boring people on the planet, and the legislative process is slow and tedious and filled with undramatic compromise).

so yes, i think obama's doing an ok job. at times disappointing, at times inspiring. which is, considering the tedious and byzantine nature of the legislative process, not too bad. and i think that obama drives the media crazy because he's not that dramatic. he's generally pretty calm, and primarily focussed on doing his job and spending time with his family.

i, personally, stopped watching cable news a long time ago, as i got tired of being yelled at by opinionated strangers in nice suits who are paid to disagree with each other.

moby



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