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Sunday Reading: Broder Hammers Obama

President-elect Barack Obama's popularity ratings may still be sky high but the Post's David Broder -- dean of the political press corps in Washington -- isn't happy with the performance of the former Illinois Senator in recent weeks.

In a column entitled "An Early Drubbing for Obama", the Dean hits the president-elect for his handling of the senate appointment by Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the choice of New Mexico Gov. Bill Richardson as Commerce secretary.

"After a near-perfect month of transition operations, Obama has stumbled twice in two weeks," writes Broder, adding that the president-elect was "caught unaware" by the investigation into allegations of pay to play tactics by Richardson and "outmaneuvered" by Blagojevich and Burris.

Of that later incident, Broder is particularly disappointed in Obama as he writes: "When and if Roland Burris claims the Senate seat from Illinois formerly occupied by Barack Obama, it will represent the greatest climb-down by an incoming president since Sam Nunn turned Bill Clinton around on the issue of gays in the military at the start of Clinton's first term."

That's quite a claim, and shows that the largely favorable coverage Obama received during the campaign may be headed to a swift end. Political reporters have -- for decades -- taken their cues from Broder, and his willingness to criticize Obama before the former Illinois Senator even becomes president could embolden other journalists to turn a more skeptical eye on the new Administration.


By Chris Cillizza  |  January 11, 2009; 1:15 PM ET
Categories:  Fix Picks , White House  
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Obama's goof was making an ill-advised public statement. Not a big deal. Reid's goof was putting the kibosh on a special election in Illinois (because he feared a Replican victory). That was a big deal. Reid is an old-fashioned bully whose tactics do not mesh well with the style of the incoming Obama administration. And just as has been the case so far, Obama's agenda will fall victim more to Dems (like Reid) than to Repubs.

Posted by: Compared2What | January 13, 2009 2:25 PM | Report abuse

The Burris fiasco doesn't look like there's much to blame on Obama, but it does kinda puzzle me that the Dems should be so incapable of enforcing the party line. It didn't look like that should have been hard.

The cynic in me wonders if maybe they REALLY want another vote in favor the upcoming stimulus bill. It could be a very close vote and the confidence from having Burris on their side could be a deal changer. Pass this bill with speed and confidence (and ideally no mention of a filibuster) and the Burris thing will be completely forgotten.

The Richardson thing doesn't look too bad from the quick read up I did. My money is on him being cleared. With Obama's support and Richardsons very politic choice to step aside, middle america will probably let the investigation play out before thinking too much of this. In this economy, no one can afford to waste time slinging mud at Richardson.
If Richardson comes out clean, Obama can welcome him with open arms, thank him for putting the country first in a time of trouble and give him a Roman Triumph and Order of Knighthood to go with the cabinet post that would be forthcoming. The more Richardson is praised for stepping aside in a moment of need, the more Obama looks good for attracting such a man and showing good judgement.
If Richardson really did do something wrong... well Obama better hope not. At least Richardson is no Blago and would be more likely to downplay the issue then stink up his whole party. And for now, Richardson seems fairly clean. For now.

Posted by: theamazingjex | January 13, 2009 1:42 PM | Report abuse

Two other points I forgot to mention.

First, the Richardson investigation was a problem. But it appears that the seriousness of it had been a fairly well-kept secret until his appointment was announced. There certainly wasn't any media coverage that I saw.

Second and more important, has WaPo laid off its researchers? There are, as many have said, much more important issues to discuss and give us perspectives about. This column could have been written at an airport gate waiting area, so maybe Broder was on his way out of town for a vacation.

Posted by: bulldog6 | January 13, 2009 10:25 AM | Report abuse

I think lowercaselarry has it about right concerning the value of Broder's remarks.

Initially, I think PE Obama's comments--and maybe even those of Sen. Reid--were simply a tactic to try to pressure Blagojevich to not naming an appointment to the vacant seat. Later "he shouldn't be seated" statements were, I believe, a tactic to try to pressure Burris to withdraw from the appointment. Obviously, neither attempt worked, which I think says more about the character of Blagojevich and Burris, than about PE Obama and even Harry Reid.

Given Roland Burris's recent election record for governor, etc., he'll likely be only a short-term distraction before he goes back to lobbying.

Posted by: bulldog6 | January 13, 2009 10:06 AM | Report abuse

Broder continues to reveal his unspeakable prejudice against Obama, and his (Broder"s)deteriorating analytic abilities. Get a grip washington post and put this guy pathetic as he has become out to pasture.

Posted by: coopermg | January 13, 2009 12:12 AM | Report abuse

To all of you who are giving Obama full credit for not getting involved in this issue, have you already forgotten his public statement? It read:

"Roland Burris is a good man and a fine public servant, but the Senate Democrats made it clear weeks ago that they cannot accept an appointment made by a governor who is accused of selling this very Senate seat. I agree with their decision, and it is extremely disappointing that Governor Blagojevich has chosen to ignore it. I believe the best resolution would be for the Governor to resign his office and allow a lawful and appropriate process of succession to take place. While Governor Blagojevich is entitled to his day in court, the people of Illinois are entitled to a functioning government and major decisions free of taint and controversy."

That sure is an odd way of saying, "this is a matter for the U.S. Senate and the people of the State of Illinois, so I'm not going to get involved."

Posted by: Compared2What | January 12, 2009 11:46 PM | Report abuse

More inside baseball from a DC lifer. But that's not the interesting part.

We've all observed how the media, especially the political media, operates like a pack (of wolves? Sheep? Lemmings? Pick your favorite animal metaphor -- they all fit.) And, like any pack, they follow the lead of their "alphas".

This isn't a "liberal media" thing. This isn't a "right-wing mouthpiece" thing. This is a "Lazy, Corporate, Copy-Cat, What-He-Said" thing. And it transcends mere partisan viewpoints.

The pack goes where the alphas lead it. Whether the stories are relevant or accurate is besides the point. They loved Bush in '03, beat the war drums for him, and parroted his every word. Then they didn't like Bush in '05, and everything he did was wrong. In '07, the pack decided McCain's candidacy was dead, and Hillary was the inevitable next President. And in '08, they declared Rev. Wright as the latest Anti-Christ.

What was missing through all this? Something called....what was that phrase?....oh yeah -- "independent journalism". Can't have any of that here.

No, some wizened icon who was last relevant in, like, 1972, and other "sages" of his ilk, told the pack where to go, and off they went.

It's just that now, Chris has actually copped to this sad fact. So the other, er, "reporters" get to take the gloves off now, before Obama has even had a chance to unpack his freakin' bags, because....why? Did Obama leave Broder off his Christmas card list or something?

Between that kind of "I'm Old, Therefore I Am -- Bow Down Before Me" nonsense, and the media continuing to treat boneheads like Bill "I Never Get Anything Right" Kristol and Maureen "Oooh, Caroline Is My New BFF!" Dowd like they actually matter, this would all be very funny, if it weren't so sadly pathetic.

Remind me, again, why we take these people seriously?

Posted by: WaitingForGodot | January 12, 2009 8:19 PM | Report abuse

Broder has stayed inside the beltway too long. Nobody's perfect-- and Obama recovered nicely. We all learn from our mistakes, but if they happen again and again. . .and if the economy doesn't improve. . .we'll see.

Posted by: trrische | January 12, 2009 7:31 PM | Report abuse

"I think Broder is way off on this one. Obama's handling of the Burris issue was appropriate - it's a State of Illinois issue, not a federal one, and the President Elect does have other priorities. I'm glad he's focusing on more critical issues, not on this one. Obama will, I think, push past less significant issues to get to the ones he deems critical, and he can't waste time on something like this. Is Broder just looking for an issue?

Posted by: zephyrffld | January 12, 2009 4:10 PM"

In total agreement, Z. The self-described "Dean" needs a long, no, permanent sabbatical. He's bloviating over petty irrelevancies. Worse yet irrelevancies do not concern O, since the President-elect has no role at all in this Burris appointment process (it's between the State of IL and the Senate).

"Dean" forgets to mention that after the initial furor died down, everyone realized under the law, Burris had to be seated. And Dean fails to mention Obama that, after realizing everyone 'cept Burris was wrong on the law, O quitely lobbied to get Reid to reverse course (which Reid eventually did, but way too late).

It just occurred to me: wasn't the Dean "bought out" by the Post? Isn't the point of a buyout to get all the dead weigh-, er, I mean "seasoned veterans" to leave and not come back, freeing up print space for, well, real journalists who report news? Did the Post not change the locks? Did they not leave with him brochures for "the Villages"?

Posted by: broadwayjoe | January 12, 2009 7:22 PM | Report abuse

hiberniantears: I think the politicization of the judiciary goes back juuuuust a little earlier than 2001. It's always been there in some form, but the modern era began in earnest with the defeat of the Bork nomination.

Regarding the Geneva Convention, the U.S. has got to be the only country that observes its terms when battling an enemy that does not. Maybe we have made the right decision in doing so, but we should not lose sight of the fact that the whole idea behind the GC was that countries had to observe it in order to receive its benefits (a reciprocity missing in Iraq and Afghanistan).

Posted by: Compared2What | January 12, 2009 6:29 PM | Report abuse

Broder reminds me somewhat of the old western song, "O, Lord How Hard It Is To Be Humble, When You Are Perfect in Every Way." To correct the sins of eight prior years before being sworn in would be a miracle of gargantuan proportions. Bring back Helen Thomas!

Posted by: clgrafton24 | January 12, 2009 6:25 PM | Report abuse

Fairfaxvoter: Obama's mistake was coming out against seatig Burris before he came out was for it (sorry, couldn't resist). As I posted earlier, I think it was a minor mistake that Broder erroneously perceived as a larger one, but it was certainly a mistake and I have no doubt Obama feels the same way (which is why he wisely changed his mind).

As to Broder, those posters who describe him as being at the same place on the spectrum as Bob Novak need to have their spectrum-goggles adjusted. When you perceive everyone who disagrees with you as being a far-right-winger, you surrender the credibility to make distinctions.

Posted by: Compared2What | January 12, 2009 4:54 PM | Report abuse

After eight years of ill-managed wars, a wrecked economy, a politicized judiciary, the near total destruction of one of our great cities, and the undermining of the Geneva Conventions, isn't it refreshing to have a President who's greatest scandal is that a disgraced governor appointed a US Senator within the bounds of the law?

Posted by: hiberniantears | January 12, 2009 4:52 PM | Report abuse

There are so many dangers confronting the United States and her leadership that it is amazing to me that the "Dean" can't see the infintesimal, no, of miniscule importance in the score board of US urgency represented by the two minor transistion an inadequate vetting and the other a corrupt governor. It wasn't exactly a slow newsday? And there is nothing hammering the US at present, right? Makes you wonder why the Dean got petty. Maybe its age? Truth of the matter is...its a new ball game and our new President is not even the President yet. So how is it per Broder he has the authority to make the decisions for the Senators on Burris. And Richardson..its over, he lost, we win, someone more worthy will be the replacement. Sorry Broder...the Dean needs a pension.

Posted by: gncascades | January 12, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I think Broder is way off on this one. Obama's handling of the Burris issue was appropriate - it's a State of Illinois issue, not a federal one, and the President Elect does have other priorities. I'm glad he's focusing on more critical issues, not on this one. Obama will, I think, push past less significant issues to get to the ones he deems critical, and he can't waste time on something like this. Is Broder just looking for an issue?

Posted by: zephyrffld | January 12, 2009 4:10 PM | Report abuse

Wow, Obama is really off limits to the bad press, would not have believed if not read all the negative comments, all good, that means they can write about real problems and leave the names blank, the reader can fill in the names. Seemed OK to bash republicans, but democrats are way off limits, OK as long as we all know the current rules and we know they can change by the min.

Posted by: bconner1 | January 12, 2009 3:59 PM | Report abuse

Broder has a lot of knowledge of and experience in politics so the only reason he can be doing this is he has some burr up his butt that's agitating him. Blago has the legal authority and Burris is qualified, and so what if at first O believed that anyone Blago put forth was bad news, so did we all. As to Richardson, just guessing but I'll bet Richardson rightly believes he's done nothing wrong, wanted the job and believed that he'd be cleared (just didn't tell O's people the time frame for a decision). On hearing the situation O probably said Richardson is a good man, and if he says he's done nothing wrong that's good by me. Then when he found out that the process would take Richardson thru and beyond the expected nomination approval process, he had to drop him. This is, as the poet said, much ado about nothing. Let's see what the man does after he's inaugurated and judge him on what he accomplishes versus the mistakes he makes, and there will be mistakes, as with any Presidency.

Posted by: gparker1 | January 12, 2009 3:42 PM | Report abuse

Really, what is Broder's gripe here?

The Burris semi-standoff and Bill Richardson's withdrawal as Commerce Secretary?

Let's get real...this does not a 'drubbing' make, in any sense of the word.

(I don't remember Broder chastising Bush when Lisa Chavez was involved in her own pseudo-scandal in 2001 and had to withdraw as Labor Secretary...also because of inadequate research by the transition)

I'd say both events have been glanced away by the Obama team with relative ease - and with no permanent damage done.

I hope the entire Washington Press corps doesn't take its cue from Broder and decide to become feverishly antagonistic like they did with Clinton...just so they don't look like they're 'in the tank'.

You'd be forgiven for thinking that the Obama team has made its first 'misstep' or 'mistake' every other week, thanks to the recent press coverage. When, in fact, none of the events have been largely significant.

The guy hasn't even moved in yet. Here's hoping the intense, hyper-critical tone of Clinton's first months doesn't make a reappearance...

I wish David "I like Karl Rove" Broder had been anywhere remotely near this critical of the Bush presidency.

Posted by: sharpz111 | January 12, 2009 2:27 PM | Report abuse

Dude, Broder is 1) completely out of it. 2) a self described "Gerald Ford Republican".

Think of that, his measure of the Presidency is a cipher like Gerald Ford.

I see that unlike eight years ago, but very reminiscent of 16 years ago, many legacy media reporters are openly predicting one-term for Obama. Sixteen years ago these same reporters became fodder for Dave Barry's "failed Presidency" jokes in the mid/late winter of '93. Today, the same out-of-touchness will just be something for a fair historian to pick up on when looking at the real and coming end of the legacy media by 2011.

As the son of a retired newspaper editor and nephew of a major publisher, I don't wish that, but clowns like Cilizza, Broder and Jeff Zeleny have almost certainly set up the complete failure of their once-proud industry.

Posted by: LeRiverend | January 12, 2009 2:00 PM | Report abuse

The only people who give a flying "F" about what David "The Dean" Broder thinks, or writes, are the sycophants in the media, who themselves, have given up any right to title of "The Fourth Branch of Government.

Posted by: gminor1 | January 12, 2009 1:52 PM | Report abuse

Re Richardson: This seemed like an oddly silly comment, thrown in for makeweight. There's always at least one major appointment that bites the dust. And always a post mortem and hand wringing as though this is a startling development. But getting all your picks through the process and not uncovering anything unexpected about any of them would be the political version of the immaculate conception. It's not happening in our lifetime. Obviously the vetters knew there was "a" problem but not as serious as it seems to be at the moment, and it didn't yet have the resonance with the (at that time unknown) Blagojevich case to make it a bigger issue as well. Surely if everyone in the world knew at the time re the Richardson case there would have been cries of alarm from the media and blogosphere instead of passing mentions?

Re: Burris. I'm confused. The conventional wisdom I have been hearing is that the Senate leadership was settling in for a nice prolonged Senate-y kind of standoff with Burris until Obama told them to resolve the matter ASAP--which they did within hours, reversing so promptly that it was kind of funny. That suggests they are very obliging and willing to do what Obama asks them to, not that they gave him a "drubbing." Doesn't it?

So, I'm puzzled by this one. Oh, by the way, he also hasn't even been inaugurated yet! Just thought I'd mention that...

Posted by: fairfaxvoter | January 12, 2009 1:38 PM | Report abuse

Broder is getting old and the Obama transition team is young and concentrating on much larger issues than the two Broder complains about. I worked many years in Washington and I saw that the pols who concentrated on infighting and put issues last usually lost in the end. Broder should analyze Obama's recovery package instead of this fluff. The phrase ready fire aim came to mind while reading his piece. What's Broder going to write about next, Obama calling foreign service officers civil servants? Oh, the horrors!

Posted by: othernovak | January 12, 2009 1:35 PM | Report abuse

OMG! I am laughing my head off. This is what we are going to expect for the next four years whenever anyone decides to comment against the Obama administration. Look out all you columnists. Your reputations will be ruined and you will no longer have any relevancy in the medias eyes. How dare you say anything against the Messiah! The hateful liberals are at it again.

Posted by: reneethereseperry | January 12, 2009 1:23 PM | Report abuse

I wish people who are "Deans" of institutions would be better informed and/or have better memories. As I recall, Fitzpatrick released his bill of particulars against the governor before he had all his ducks in a row because the Tribune was threatening to go public and ruin the rest of his plans. After that, the media made it seem that the governor would resign, be forced out by the supreme court, or be removed by impeachment within days, if not hours. At that point Reid, and Obama, indicated they would not find his appointment acceptable. But things changed: no indictment, no impeachment, no supreme court forcing him out. At that point, he legally makes an appointment, and the options are accept the legally-made appointment or create a stinking scandal. Accepting the appointment is the better part of valor. So maybe Obama should have not said anything, leading to a big media pile-on, or he could speak against the governor, leading to a big media pile-on.
Since most of this happened in a place far far away --Illinois-- I guess the beltway types did not notice that part. Or Broder followed his usual pattern of ignoring what did not fit his bright idea of the day. I hope highly paid journalists and pundits learn to think for themselves sooner rather than later.

Posted by: dhartley0476 | January 12, 2009 1:21 PM | Report abuse

Broder's critisisms seem pretty petty to me. I've always considered him to be an ultra rightist anyway.

Posted by: nwsjnky1 | January 12, 2009 1:12 PM | Report abuse

Let's analyze this logically. The juiciest point in Broder's article is this "When and if Roland Burris claims the Senate seat from Illinois formerly occupied by Barack Obama, it will represent the greatest climb-down by an incoming president since Sam Nunn turned Bill Clinton." Sounds terrible, doesn't it?

But what is a "climb-down?" I've never heard this phrase in my life and I'm a middle-aged English major. And how many incoming presidents have there been since Bill Clinton in 1992? One. So not much of a sample, really. And does anyone remember anything Bush did at this point in his not-yet administration? Or really anything pre-9/11/01?

Furthermore, "the gays in the military was a hugely damaging event," while even Broder says that Obama has suffered no public damage from the Burris mess. And he shouldn't because it is really quite silly. Incoming presidents get no say in Senate appointments. Obama is right there with 60-70% of the American public on the Burris appointment. He doesn't like it. And he's right there with 99.999999% of Americans in that he's got no power over it.

Broder should wait until there's a real fire in the theater before he yells "fire," otherwise he makes himself look like a bit of a boob. Although I know that's a part of a columnist's job - even "the dean" of columnists:)

Posted by: stpaulsage | January 12, 2009 1:06 PM | Report abuse

I grew up in the South and live on the West Coast, and I truly don't get this, never have. I'm asking (seriously), can someone explain why these reporters/pundits are held in such high regard in Washington, D.C.? I understand they (are/were) around for a long time, but is that it?

1. Why is Broder "The Dean"?
2. Who decided Tim Russert was "the toughest Sunday interviewer"?
3. And for extra credit: Bill Kristol, WTF? Just to generate letters?

Posted by: merelymyopinion | January 12, 2009 12:54 PM | Report abuse

The country is falling apart. Most of us can hardly wait for this change in administration and get on with things. There is a good deal of anticipation, good will, and hope. And David Broder decides to spoil the party before it even starts. At one time he was better than that. Herblock would post a cartoon at the beginning of a new administration showing a man in a barber chair with the caption, as best I remember, "Every new president deserves a free shave."

Posted by: Democrat125 | January 12, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

I was trying to remember the last time I read a Broder column and said, "That was very insightful and gives me a new way of viewing that issue."

Just wait. I'm still thinking. . . .

Broder's peers are all retired as are his sources so what he says is often warmed over status quo, common denominator pablum generated from talking to all the other people in DC who yammer but are no longer players. Longevity may generate "deanness" but wisdom would make for a better column.

Posted by: portwest | January 12, 2009 12:41 PM | Report abuse

Is it just me, or hase anyone else noticed that Broder isn't invited to the Sunday morning political shows any longer?

Time to retire?


Posted by: dastubbs | January 12, 2009 12:36 PM | Report abuse

By all means, let's destroy the man before he even takes office. Related--SoonerThought's Final Post is online now:

Posted by: soonerthought | January 12, 2009 12:34 PM | Report abuse

Chris: Uggh, please, what is with younger young pundits and your need to dry hump some old man desperate for attention? Yes, David Broder is in a tizzy, so the rest of the press corps has to run around in a circle? Who cares about what he thinks anyway?

Posted by: LABC | January 12, 2009 12:09 PM | Report abuse

Blagojevich outmaneuvered the entire party. The failure was not Obama's alone.

Posted by: JohninMpls | January 12, 2009 11:46 AM | Report abuse

While I have previously posted in these WaPo forums that I believe Obama should have had the common sense to avoid getting involved in denying "anyone" nominated by the governor, this is not as big an issue as Broder apparently feels. It certainly does not rise to the level of Clinton's turnaround on gays in the military, IMHO as a gay man.

David Broder may be the dean of something or other, but he's not an intelligent one.


Posted by: dastubbs | January 12, 2009 11:45 AM | Report abuse

Often the way people argue this is not a forum for debate but rather personal attacks and reenforcement of already held beliefs.

Chris has some points- Broder is still an influential journalist in the political world and it may grant "permission" to columnists to cover the less than favorable aspects of Obama as well as the favorable ones-

I am a very far to the left progressive but try to still be a thinking person- all stories have more than one side and perspective. To shut things out and make the politician into a new messiah does not do service to anyone- especially as he backed out of a lot of progressive policies already- we need to keep pushing him to get the things done that may not be politically expedient.

Now focusing on Richardson and Blogojivich is not holding his feet to the fire about issues- but it is exploring his political side- Richardson was clearly being rewarded for his endorsement- even though he was extremely qualified- in that they were trying to ignore his political troubles. The Obama machine is trying to push Teddy Kennedy's niece on my state as a senator as a reward for EFK's endorsement. Blogojovich and IL political tradeoffs are also part of his history.

I have faith that Obama will be a good president. What it really means is that as a politician- we should be wary of the trade-offs that he is willing to make- and make sure that we are pushing him as strongly as others are in making the correct choices. Blindly attacking anyone who questions him or apologizing for anything he does that is not so great does not help anyone- and makes our behavior a lot more like the right wings was for the last 8 years.

Posted by: nycLeon | January 12, 2009 11:33 AM | Report abuse

My thoughts are, Chris, you should stop thinking one pundit equals a trend which equals public opinion. The public didn't listen to Broder when he wagged his finger at Clinton, they didn't listen when he pronounced two years ago Bush had "turned a corner" and would be resurgently popular. In an age when newspapers are forced to carry headlines about their own growing irrelevance, it is absurd to think a single columnist forbodes very much of anything.

Posted by: howlless | January 12, 2009 10:46 AM | Report abuse


I think that Broder is exagerating and trying to create something from nothing.

Posted by: bsimon1 | January 12, 2009 10:31 AM | Report abuse

Chris, please stop sucking up to Broder. It's embarrassing.

If "the Dean" is regularly this wide of the mark, building trivialities into unwarranted concerns, he needs to go on permanent sabbatical.

Posted by: FlownOver | January 12, 2009 10:23 AM | Report abuse

Good Lord . . . actual coverage of Obama that is not completely fawning attracks labels of "senile" and bulletins from a parallel universe in which Bush received favorable, or even vaguely fair, media coverage? It could be a long four years.

Posted by: oconnellme | January 12, 2009 10:03 AM | Report abuse

I think the fact that the press takes their cues from any one individual speaks to the profound disservice done to America when you and your ilk act less as guardians of the truth and more as simple minded lemmings. "The Dean"? Are you out of your mind? You fools are supposed to be independent and objective. Well, go blow a wad of expense account cash with some insider buddies at a high end restaurant and come up with what inane and irrelevant topic you think you need to tell the plebes next.

Posted by: hiberniantears | January 12, 2009 9:58 AM | Report abuse

The comments are a drubbing of DB, both early and often.

I think that Broder deserves criticism for focusing on irrelevancies and magnifying their import. I think he deserves criticism for misreading the effect of both of these moves, as modest and far from the real action as they were.

Many posters have complained of the "mountain out of a molehill" quality, and some have pointed to the clearly astute move of gently dropping Richardon while leaving the door open, as well as the no-risk approach of not antagonizing the Majority Leader over a collateral matter.
Posters who personally attack DB's character and fitness b/c they do not find value in this column [and I do not find value in it, obviously] are not furthering the cause of open debate.
Chris's final suggestion deserves a reply.
If the press corps has been handling BHO with reverence and awe it should not do so.
If Chris is suggesting that the DC pros have given BHO a free ride, I do not agree.
BHO has recently been criticized for several of his cabinet picks and how secretively [and without congressional input] they were made. He has been criticized for potentially placing a new level of bureaucracy in the WH between the Prez and his Cabinet. He has been criticized for proposing tax cuts. I could go on, but as for every public person at the center of the fury, BHO's every decision has drawn both support and fire from the mainstream media.

And this is before he has made a single decision as POTUS.

Posted by: mark_in_austin | January 12, 2009 8:39 AM | Report abuse

Note to Mr. Broder and the other Corporate-nistas at the Post...

Barack Obama is not omnipotent! Guess what? He has made some mistakes in his life (in fact he has admitted he has) and will undoubtedly make some more. However it seems Mr. Broder could not wait to criticize the man. He hasn't even been sworn in and the great rush to judgment has begun.

Why is it that Republicans like Ronald Reagan can get a lifetime/post-mortem pass from the Post and the likes of W can get 6-years of the kid glove treatment by the Post while Democrats like Carter, Clinton and now Obama can't get 6-weeks without premature, irrelevant criticism?

Wait until the man is in office. No one saw the prolonged troubles Richardson was in for. If it were so obvious why didn't Broder and the rest of the Post's Republican apologist mention it when the governor was initially nominated? And as for the mess in Illinois what was Obama to do? If he had immersed himself in the mess you guys would have used that as fodder to pin Blagojevich on him.

By the way Blagojevich isn't the first person accused of a crime who actually out maneuvered prosecutors, the press and the government. Unfortunately his selection of Roland Burris to replace Obama in the U.S, Senate is beyond reproach. Burris is an honorable man who should be seated in the US Senate post-haste and the president-elect did well by backing off his support of Senate Dems who initially intended to rebuke the Illinois governor’s selection.

Posted by: RWinLA | January 12, 2009 2:51 AM | Report abuse

You know, where were these people, these so called journalists, during the 8 years of the george w. bush administration? These people now so intent on holding Obama’s feet to the fire? Where was the minute-by-minute scrutiny, analysis, questioning, characterizing, condemning, criticizing…well you get the idea, of george bush? We could have used it then.

Instead we had a bunch of rear window bobbing dog heads to every crazy assertion made by the bush crowd (mushroom cloud….). Instead we had a obedient, acquiescent steno pool posing as the media that dutifully took down everything that these people said, no questions asked. Back then I would have appreciated analysis before the weighty decision was made to go to war, when it would have mattered.

Remember the giddy commentary on how commanding bush looked on the deck of the Abraham Lincoln, how he made the country proud as he pronounced mission accomplished. What about all the damage he let Rumsfeld wreak (stuff happens, conducting war on the cheap, debathification, and so many others) with nary a peep from our friends in the media. Where was their fabulous fact checking then?? Then it would have mattered. And not to forget the apologists and the cheerleading chorus in the media. Remember Peter Baker’s piece in WaPo “Poor george-a solitary man with the weight of the world on his shoulders”? Okay so that’s not what it’s called but it is what it amounted to. You can read it here

Now we see the media for what it is…an irrelevant medium that is struggling to maintain the impression it is still relevant. As long as guys like Cilliza think they should learn at the feet of Broder as the master, the media will continue it's decline.

Posted by: aetucker | January 12, 2009 2:12 AM | Report abuse

David Broder, as Paul Begala says, is a gasbag and would lick the heels of both Bush Presidents if asked.

Posted by: vatechhokies50 | January 12, 2009 1:29 AM | Report abuse

David Broder, for years, has been riding democrats. Broder, Safire and that guy that died and that NBC has been promoting for sainthood, were after Clinton from the day he got into office and never let up for eight years. Safire, with Broders help, even tried to set up the president over one of his appointments. Now Broder thinks he has found another foil. This one more than likely will not give him the same opportunities (Monica, Whitewater, etc.) that Clinton did. Crawl back into the slim hole you came from Broder.

Posted by: Opa2 | January 12, 2009 12:58 AM | Report abuse

Broder is a senile old fool, and a partisan one at that, whom no one takes seriously except for helpless Beltway "insiders" who couldn't find their way out of a bag without consulting the "conventional" political wisdom

Obama certainly won't give Broder a second thought, along with >99% of the US population, and neither should you, Chris.

Posted by: verasoie | January 12, 2009 12:47 AM | Report abuse

David Broder is a f*cking idiot. He is WAY past his prime. Put the old man out to pasture. Jesus.

Posted by: smh3477 | January 12, 2009 12:10 AM | Report abuse


Posted by: scrivener50 | January 11, 2009 11:11 PM | Report abuse

David Broder? Who cares?

Obama is saddled with a totally ineffective, cowardly Senate Majority Leader and a Speaker of the House who suddenly found her voice and wants to stand up to a president (something she never did with George W. Bush, needless to say). Obama can't change these people overnight, but if they continue to be ineffective and obstructionists he can and likely will use his bully pulpit to call them out.

Calling out the leaders of his own party. My oh my, how....MAVERICKY!

Posted by: kemp13 | January 11, 2009 11:06 PM | Report abuse

Broder is out to lunch on this one. I would like him to explain exactly what a guy who isn't even President yet is supposed to do in this situation. Even after he takes the oath, what real options does Obama have in this situation other than belly-aching? Show me the column Broder wrote shredding Bush over Abramoff, a pay-to-play scandal that actually, you know, involved the White House.

I know many of these columnists, after being way too compliant during the Bush years, have vowed to be tougher with the next President, but this is ridiculous.

Posted by: starthom | January 11, 2009 11:04 PM | Report abuse

What a joke the Greedy Oil Party and their minions (see below) have become.

Obama got a free pass from the media?

I find it laughable when rightwing blowhards like Limbaugh, Bill-O and Hannity etc go on and on about how the corporate media gave the election to Prez-elect Obama.

I must have missed that, was it when they were playing the Rev Wright tapes 24/7 or was it when they were parroting Sarah the Blunder Woman Palin's accusations of Obama "palling around with terrorists/Bill Ayers"?

Was it when they were calling Obama a secret muslim or not black enough or not white enough? etc etc etc.

The rightwing Rovian propaganda machine got smacked down right in its tracks this year because people tired of it and the rightwingers are the only one's who still can't understand how that could have happened...

During the campaign they all gave Obama a free ride and worked to get him elected, despite this guys 20 year sorry racist white and America--hating past, total inexperience, and political and business--assocciations with every pay-to-play crooked politico in Chicago.

Posted by: armpeg | January 11, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

Posted by: DrainYou | January 11, 2009 10:34 PM | Report abuse

I have been saying for months that Obama's media honeymoon would be over as soon as he got into office. Now that they have their man elected they will go straight for the throat on any part of "change" that doesn't go their way. Disillusionment will mark the first two years of Obama's administration, and the media will lead the way to a Republican rally in the mid-term elections.

You heard it here first.

Posted by: political_junkie1 | January 11, 2009 10:29 PM | Report abuse

So Obama was wrong when he said Burris should not be seated. A mistake, but one that hardly rises to the level of Nunn/Clinton. As for Richardson, he was owed (not in any illegal or unethical way) for throwing his support behind Obama early. Obama gave him a b.s. job and probably could care less whether Richardson survived. (This is the same guy who Kerry decided would not survive the VP vetting process in '04; he has some value but creates more liability.) The point is, these are minor movements in the trend line that appear significant only if you look to close, which is what Broder did.

The real story here is Reid's arrogant incompetence. He's the one who engineered the IL legislature's decision not to hold a special election and he's the one who threw himself in front of the Senate door, only to be steamrolled by Blago & Burress, of all people.

Posted by: Compared2What | January 11, 2009 9:35 PM | Report abuse

Broder's odd attack on Obama today is ridiculous and simply not fact based.

As to the Burris appointment, Obama had nothing to do with that matter. Incredibly Broder fails to mention the thing that turned the Burris matter into his favor was NOT Bobby Rush's playing the race card but the fact that, after everyone stopped bloviating, adults realized Burris's seating could not be blocked consistent with the Constitution unless Burris failed to meet the minimum requirements set out in that document (age, citizenship, etc.). In other words, the LAW required Burris's seating in the Senate, and numerous legal commentators have written, and Dianne Feinstein recognized, this not a close call: Burris must be seated under the law. Further, the Burris appt. is a matter involving the State of Illinois and the U.S. Senate, and, as Broder well knows, has nothing to do with the Office of the President-elect.

The Richardson matter was simply a case of a candidate for a Cabinet position not furnishing all of the information requested during the transition team's vetting (as reported by practically every paper in the country). This happens ALL THE TIME during transitions.

The Dean got a demerit today.

Posted by: broadwayjoe | January 11, 2009 9:07 PM | Report abuse

David Broder and the rest of the Democratic Party--controlled MSM's journalists "hammering Obama" now, after he's been elected, is like closing the barn door after the horses have all escaped. During the campaign they all gave Obama a free ride and worked to get him elected, despite this guys 20 year sorry racist white and America--hating past, total inexperience, and political and business--assocciations with every pay-to-play crooked politico in Chicago.

Posted by: armpeg | January 11, 2009 8:30 PM | Report abuse

I'm sure that Cillizza, Marcus, Froomkin, and Company will be happily cheerleading Obama on throughout his administration -- critical reporting is only for Republicans.

Posted by: WashingtonDame | January 11, 2009 7:57 PM | Report abuse

You folks in the Press need to "Change" your way of reporting along with other changes necessary in this town. Obama doesn't care about this silliness and neither does most of America. The world is nearly coming to an end and Broder is concerned about some soon to be, or may be Illinois Senator......There are too many of you in the media still on the payroll.

Posted by: october30 | January 11, 2009 7:46 PM | Report abuse

This is the guy who said that Bush was poised for a comeback, who values bipartisanship as long as that means Democrats give the GOP what they want, who searches middle America once every four years to find someone who echos his views and then writes that he speaks for middle America. In short, he is useless. Guys like you who take their cue from Broder are a shame on journalism.

Posted by: havok26 | January 11, 2009 6:54 PM | Report abuse

DrainYou - and your comments might be worth considering had you bothered reading one of Broder's columns over the past 8 years.


Posted by: FairlingtonBlade | January 11, 2009 6:09 PM | Report abuse

Ok Chris,

Your characterization of Broder's political observation regarding two "fumbles", concluding "that the largely favorable coverage Obama received during the campaign may be headed to a swift end. Political reporters have -- for decades -- taken their cues from Broder, and his willingness to criticize Obama before the former Illinois Senator even becomes president could embolden other journalists to turn a more skeptical eye on the new Administration."

Please Broder's piece, by his own definition, was keeping score on political performance. Gee, a politician making a couple of mistakes. Even Broder said these were lessons for Obama. Why didn't you reference that point. It puzzles me that you would overplay what was an "inside the beltway" critique as some dire type of criticism.

You must be bored with the international and economic crisis we are in. Obama's popularity and favorable press coverage must make you feel like it is time for you cast a "critical eye" on the President-elect in transition.

Chris you generally do a good job and I read your blog, but you are better than this. There will be many substantive opportunities for you to demonstrate your critical analysis skills. Spare us these types of post.


Posted by: DCnativepolobserver | January 11, 2009 6:04 PM | Report abuse

Broder is worthless, he should have retired years ago when he still had some credibility left.

Calling Broder "the Dean of the Sock Puppet Corporate Media" would be much more appropriate as he spent the last eight years eating up and spitting out every single bit of propaganda that BushCo and the Republican party fed him him without once even bothering to question them.

Posted by: DrainYou | January 11, 2009 5:26 PM | Report abuse

A lot of you just don't get it. Obama could have shown some real leadership with the Burris situation, tell Reid to seat him and do away with this soap opera. Instead, he let Reid make a mess of it. And it looks like Reid has no respect for the leader of his party. Obama's problem in Congress will not be the Republicans, it will be his own. Pelosi and Reid will have their own agenda to run and care less about who is sittin in the White House.

Posted by: Verrazzano | January 11, 2009 5:20 PM | Report abuse

Broder's right about both things having been fumbled. But with The Middle East about to blow up, Iraq giving everyone heartburn, the economy failing to a degree that everyone's got to be a little scared and trying to form a cohesive administration...well, I think these two items don't really amount to a hill of beans.


Posted by: stuartoneill | January 11, 2009 4:44 PM | Report abuse

As someone who grew up in Washington DC (reading the Washington Post) but has lived in Hawaii for the last 30 years, this yappy-dog kind of criticism from Broder et al is just too much. What does Broder expect? Keeping impossibly high expectations and then yapping when there's a 'mistake' made is the mindset that brought us 'W' and the hubris of his administration. David Broder- get a life! Take a fresh look at the world around you and concentrate on being a positive voice that can help get this world out of the mess that we're in! The press can be an agent of change, or it can be the same-old same-old. Ever wonder why the papers are losing business? Sure, Craigslist is a factor, by making the classified ads less lucrative. Another big reason is that people are sick of all the nitpicking and don't want to read any more of it!! Notice that I'm reading - and responding to this stuff -- on the 'net where I have more choices of reading material!

Posted by: pbarrett17 | January 11, 2009 4:33 PM | Report abuse

I respect Mr. Broder a great deal, but I would venture that the majority of Americans could not care less about these inside Washington parlor games and are sick to death of this moment to moment analysis of every move Obama makes. After eight years of the most incompetent president in history, people are hurting and want something, anything to get done. How nice it would be if we could just step back for five minutes and give Obama a little bit of time and space, but of course then there would be nothing to fill up the blogs, websites, and 24 cable news machines.

Posted by: rutha1 | January 11, 2009 3:32 PM | Report abuse

Like the law, punditry is one of those self-perpetuating professions. That's probably why, after two years of Americans losing their homes and retirements, Broder is licking his chops and wagging his finger at the sideshow, when the rest of the country is teetering on the verge of economic collapse.

Posted by: jrbarry63 | January 11, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

David Broder brings us the voice of the past, today sounding like feckless babble. Richardson is Richardson's problem, Burriss is the Senate's problem. Broder is the Post's problem.

Posted by: lowercaselarry | January 11, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

Thoughts, Chris? You want thoughts?

Maybe reporters need to start to think for themselves instead of taking "cues" from one person and following like lemmings ("oh, Broder says it's time to get tough? This way, boys, follow me!") And maybe you should stop the incessant a**-kissing of Broder. Is he God? Could he possibly ever be, ya know, wrong? And maybe you should ruminate on why the mainstream media is losing influence with the public (perhaps it's the unseemly pack mentality alluded to in your blog?)

Posted by: mpl2 | January 11, 2009 3:14 PM | Report abuse

Read the comments posted in response to Broder's comments. Other writers may follow Broder's lead but it is pretty clear that most readers do not. His article was basically valueless.

Posted by: cdierd1944 | January 11, 2009 3:01 PM | Report abuse

I thought it was a bit of a stretch. I didn't really think Obama has a dog in that fight at all. I figured the Big Dogs in that fight were primarily on the state level, with maybe some minor spill-over into the Senate.

If Minnesota says: 'Here is our guy'* - the Senate really doesn't get to choose. They might fret and fuss a little about the process Minnesota went through to pick the guy - but the state gets to choose and no one else. Seems like the sort of ugliness that a president up to his *ss in alligators - while he might hold a preference who guy is - realizes that he's a president and not an emperor, and sometimes he's not The Decider after all.

So Blago changes course - picks the most eminently qualified citizen in the state – and in this way gives a black-eye to Obama? Well if that’s the way it works – I can’t wait for the Republican’s to batter Obama into a nation swimming in both peace and prosperity.

* (guy in the unisex point of view)

Posted by: DonJasper | January 11, 2009 2:53 PM | Report abuse

What Broder did was a disservice the incoming administration -- basically, Broder was like a man hidden in the bushes who jumped out and gave Obama a knee-capping he didn't deserve.

Really, what Broder is talking about is just stupid. The Richardson thing didn't blow up in Obama's face. It's just that the Blagojevich scandal changed the political arithmetic.

Then, the Burris thing was always beyond Obama's control -- Obama simply agreed with Reid but it was always Reid's Senate that was going to make the final decisions.

To suggest that these were an early "drubbing" of Obama sets an absurd standard. As I said, this was just a knee-capping by Broder who no longer deserves to be called the "dean" of political journalists.

Posted by: rlalumiere | January 11, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Another example of why Broder should be put out to sleep.

Posted by: PatrickNYC1 | January 11, 2009 2:47 PM | Report abuse

I look forward to Broder's next column "Indecision by Obama: When will he choose a First Dog?"

Posted by: mnteng | January 11, 2009 2:42 PM | Report abuse

It is clear that Mr. Broder is of another generation. He could have used the column space for more pressing issues. Perhaps you should refer to him as the Dean of yesteryear!

Let's move away from the past tactics in journalism and move to inform and educate the public. This focus does not have a place anymore. Time for a new generation to become "the Dean."

Posted by: hmh2 | January 11, 2009 2:36 PM | Report abuse


I'm sure Obama's going to make mistakes throughout his administration. And I some of them are going to be personnel-related. But why is Broder focusing on Burris and Richardson when the primary policy issue that's being debated is the size and makeup of a stimulus package? Not all of us are Nobel Prize economists, but we all can read Krugman, DeLong, and Mankiw, and we all should be literate enough in economics to understand their arguments.

So what does it say about Broder that he skips the most important domestic policy issue of the day?

Posted by: ShermanDorn | January 11, 2009 2:24 PM | Report abuse

I thought what Broder wrote was ridiculous and the grand scheme of things the few mistakes that Obama did was NOT that big of a deal.

In terms of pundits going after Obama, I just don't see it at all. He is such an IMPROVEMENT over Bush that I think they will still give Obama a honeymoon. Times are REALLY tough right now.

Posted by: maritza1 | January 11, 2009 2:22 PM | Report abuse

What Broder writes is absolute bull-- Obama has had nothing whatsoever to do with the Burris saga, and indeed has made no real public statement about his views regarding the seat. The Richardson bit was unfortunate, but the Obama team recognized the dangers and apparently stuck with it until they realized it would be too difficult to get past Congress, which is totally reasonable. It seems like they've handled everything very well, so far (and the American people agree, with 82% satisfied with Obama's transition according to CNN). Broder is fast losing his influence as a "dean of Washington Press Corps." It seems that he no longer has anything important to say.

Posted by: jdmaccoby | January 11, 2009 2:11 PM | Report abuse

Broderella only matters to people in The Village.

By posting this nonsense we can all safely assume that Cilizza is a proud member.

Posted by: Canonera | January 11, 2009 2:07 PM | Report abuse

Wow. We face a 1930s-level economic meltdown and a Mideast war (well, two Mideast wars, but who's counting). And the Washington press corps, God bless them, wants to talk about "maneuvers," "climb downs" and the "players" in the "game."

The real question is why the Washington press corps prefers to talk about this empty dribble. For my part, I'd say it's because they are too stupid and parochial to understand substantive issues of policy.

Broder's column, his status as "dean," and the deference displayed here are timely reminders that, in the last analysis, the only thing the DC chatterati are qualified to talk about are the DC chatterati. They may not be smart enough to understand what a subprime mortgage is, or what the difference between Hezbollah and Hamas is, but by gum they can tell us "who's up" and "who's down" in DC this week!

Posted by: AldhunDurham | January 11, 2009 1:56 PM | Report abuse

As is usually the case when writers have nothing of worth to print, they reduce themselves to the insignificant in attempting to fulfill an obligation.

Mr. Broder can continue as he is going and receive the annual award given those who contribute useless commentary, or he can get a life by finding work elsewhere.

Posted by: rodnacious1 | January 11, 2009 1:53 PM | Report abuse

Wow.. Those of us who live in the 'real' America could not care less about all this hulaballoo. Tempests in the Washington teapot for those who get paid by the word.. We're too busy planning our trip to Washington next week.

Posted by: montanagal | January 11, 2009 1:47 PM | Report abuse

I don't know how much you can blame Obama for the whole Blagojevich/Burris "outmaneuvering." The real blame falls on Congressional leaders such as Harry Reid, who goes on "Meet the Press" and talks tough about not seating anyone appointed by Blago, but then meets with Burris the next few days and states that there are avenues to travel down to get Burris seated.

Certainly Obama also talked tough and did not follow through (though I do not know if he has chastised Reid privately for lacking a spine). At the end of the day, however, it's a Senate issue and if any executive should be involved it is Biden. Congressional leaders bluffed by saying they would not seat Burris and Burris simply called that bluff and caught them with their pants down.

While there are legitimate criticisms of Obama at this juncture (Richardson being one of them, and I personally think that his problems have gone widely unanalyzed [partially due to being overshadowed by Blago]), Burris is not really one of them.

Posted by: kane1 | January 11, 2009 1:37 PM | Report abuse

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