Politics & Media
Dec 09, 2008, 07:43AM

The Problem With Generalizing

As President-elect Obama fills out his staff, the constant snap analyses and chirping from pundits of all sides is simply a sympotom of impatience.

Let's calm down.

Perhaps the best indication of Obama's promising transition is the fact that ideolgoues on the left and right are tired of being short changed. While keeping major progressive reforms such as health care, the economy and Iraq in his sites, the President-elect's choices for his administration have been pragmatic and, gasp, a bit moderate. And that means—gasp—Republicans are pleased (!) and liberals are pissed (!!). Liberal hubs such as Talking Points Memo, DailyKos and The Huffington Post cover Obama positively, for the most part—it's that "for the most part" that gives mainstream pundits enough evidence to cite the "angry Left" when it comes to covering reaction to Obama's nominations.

Recently, on The Huffington Post, former Obama campaign adviser Steve Hildebrand wrote:

This is not a time for the left wing of our Party to draw conclusions about the Cabinet and White House appointments that President-Elect Obama is making. Some believe the appointments generally aren't progressive enough. Having worked with former Senator Obama for the last two years, I can tell you, that isn't the way he thinks and it's not likely the way he will lead. The problems I mentioned above and the many I didn't, suggest that our president surround himself with the most qualified people to address these challenges. After all, he was elected to be the president of all the people—not just those on the left.

There are now 2,000 comments on that post, the majority of which criticize Hildebrand for oversimplifying the issue and bloviating mountains out of molehills. The liberal blogosphere is a bit more flexible when it comes to criticizing it's own party, and everyone is still running high on campaign fumes—enough to keep the buzz going till Inauguration, and from there into oblivion.

In an interview with Greg Sargent of Talking Points Memo, Hildebrand defended himself:

Hildebrand also denied that his framing was meant to portray the "left's" views as more marginal than they actually are. "I wasn't attacking anybody or criticizing anybody in particular," he insisted, though it was hard to avoid the conclusion that he didn't care enough about the criticism to focus on its finer points.

OK, Steve. Your non-attack attack was the product of laziness. You didn't bother to cite anything because you figured it was the CW—collective wisdom. But that collective wisdom was based on the laziness of mainstream pundits. And so laziness begat laziness, and look what happened. You stumbled into a half-echo chamber, half-think tank of a liberal blogosphere that, frankly, deserves a more nuanced analysis than yours.

And for the HuffPo commenters, et al? Let it drop. He's no longer campaigning and he's not on the transition team. He's still running on fumes, too. We all are.


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