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Barlow Herget Commentary
Barlow Herget is a commentator and host on State Government Radio at Curtis Media. He has been a commentator on UNC public radio and an instructor in continuing education at Duke University. Herget was a Nieman Fellow ('70) at Harvard University, has worked for the Daily Press of Paragould, Ark., the Detroit Free Press, and the News & Observer of Raleigh. His articles have appeared in The Atlantic, The New York Times and numerous other publications. Contact him by email.
Chattering class ignores real problems
Wednesday - 6/16/2010, 10:04am EDT
The Congress, almost two years after the Wall Street Panic, has yet to fix the problems that caused the financial collapse. The Dow Jones Industrials is on a roller coaster again.
So, what is the Washington press corps and too many of the national columnists chattering about?
Whether President Obama is showing enough anger in doing the nation's business.
There is a segment in the electorate who are incapable of finding any good with Mr. Obama's administration. He can't walk across a room without this crowd calling him a foreign-born imposter or worse.
There are his critics in Congress who are as eager to help the President improve the economy as Sarah Palin is to talk to John Stewart. And then, there's FOX TV.
This has become the baggage that attends this administration and apparently will be there for the duration. Don't look for serious debate or reporting from such well-wishers.
We should expect more from the informed and hard-working press.
Instead, the network television anchors who can command an audience with the President, unlike the rest of us, have used that valuable time to ask Mr. Obama why he hasn't "kicked" BP oil executives a little harder.
And this penetrating question follows several weeks of somber speculation among national reporters and columnists about the President's seeming inability to get angry with low-performing subordinates or intractable opponents.
Unfortunately, the President and his media advisers have taken the bait and tried to show some flair with tough-guy talk.
To someone outside the Beltway, this is nonsense. The press has better things to do, and the nation is in sore need of serious discussions on a wide range of topics.
Rather than kicking around BP executives-they are getting kicked mightily on the stock market-the press should be using its considerable resources to look at previous oil spills.
What worked in the Persian Gulf spill in 1991? What about the Mexican oil company, Pemex's gusher in 1979 and what were the consequences on wetlands and beaches from its 9-month ordeal?
Most importantly is the economy. The press has almost walked away from the economic debate about the Great Recession. There is a wave of deficit reduction sentiment in America right now. No one likes the huge debts the country is piling up.
But is retrenchment the correct response? Will budget cutting worsen the recovery much the way a similar spending decline did in 1937 during the Great Depression?
The media doesn't have to give up its humor to write about serious issues. If they need a good laugh, there's always South Carolina politics to keep them smiling.