Annals of Beltwayism

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As I was perusing the news of the day last night I was reminded of just how bad a lot of political reporting is. And not generally bad but bad in the sense of recycled D.C. conventional wisdom which is itself largely the product of reporters who take their cue from Republican messaging gurus. Our example this morning comes from Josh Kraushaar, late of National Journal, now with Axios.

The topic is “Biden’s broken bully pulpit,” or rather that’s the title. The topic is Biden’s feeble poll numbers. That in itself is true enough. Biden’s public approval has been mired in the low 40% since the summer of 2021. Polls also show that voters are concerned about Biden’s age. But the topic of this update is that even as things get better it doesn’t matter because being super bold prevents Biden from convincing anyone of anything.

I didn’t know any better way of capturing the tone than annotating the lede …

Needless to say, there’s no basis for any of this. To the extent Biden’s unpopular, maybe it’s because we just experienced a two year inflation shock far larger than any in the adult living memory of the vast majority of working age Americans and it’s only just abated. (If you remember high inflation as an adult in the labor force you’re almost certainly over 65.) This is my best guess, though I would emphasize that it is at best an educated guess. It could be because interest rates are much higher than they’ve been in fifteen years. Thus the cost of buying a home or a car has gone up dramatically. It could just be that a critical slice of loosely attached political Americans thinks Biden sucks.

But the idea that it’s purely or substantially a matter of being a poor communicator is at best a leap. And the idea that he can’t convince people things are great because he’s old is just ten unsupported assertions stacked on top of each other. It’s no more than two anti-Biden talking points smooshed together.

Kraushaar becomes so giddy about the idea by the end of this first run that he tosses in that Americans now feel worse about the economy than they did before archeo-Biden started talking it up. His evidence for this is that Biden’s economic approval rating hasn’t improved since the “Bidenomics” blitz began – just a basic logical reasoning hiccup. The whole argument is the silliest kind of hot take nonsense and it’s not coming from some random on Twitter. This is from one of the most prominent campaign and politics reporters in the country. Kraushaar is often comically bad. But the phenomenon is just a product of the same small number of people talking to each other and usually in the thrall of GOP messaging.

Sad!, as our favorite fascist adjacent former president might say.

Comically bad reporting isn’t the cause of Biden’s poor approval numbers. But they certainly don’t help the cause. It’s like bad weather that any Democratic campaign has to figure into the equation because D.C. remains wired for the GOP.

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