In today's New York Times, John Harwood burns through his allotted column inches discussing President Obama's European trip and foreign policy agen--no, I mean Congress wrangling with the issues of immigration and abortion bans--oops, not that either. Rather, Mr. Harwood laments the lands that Air Force One forgot:
...Mr. Obama has not given North Dakota his time. It is one of six states he has not visited as president, along with South Dakota, Arkansas, Idaho, South Carolina and Utah. He has gone just once to Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, Tennessee and Wyoming.Harwood's point in a nutshell: 25% is also 1/4. 1/4 is half of one-half, and that's halfway to 100%! Of course, the 25% of states Mr. Obama has visited one time or less contain ~33,801, 418 people, or 10.76% of the population. As Harwood surely noted in his exhaustive and carefully-considered editing process, 10.76%<25%; ergo, criticizing the President for ignoring 25% of the U.S. is easier than criticizing him for visiting "only" 90% of Americans.
Mr. Obama’s near-complete absence from more than 25 percent of the states, from which he is politically estranged, is no surprise, in that it reflects routine cost-benefit calculations of the modern presidency. But in a country splintered by partisanship and race, it may also have consequences.
So Harwood chose to cite the bigger number over the more instructive number. But still! "In a country splintered by partisanship and race," he fears, this misleading statistic "may also have consequences."
Like, secession consequences? Roving bands of jilted, nullification-advocating Dakotans? No, something much more important: media metanarrative consequences. And that's why Obama can't win.
We are instructed to believe the President is a victim of his own rhetorical bind: While noting that many of the "neglected" states are conservative, or mostly white, Harwood recalls:
His 2004 Democratic convention speech gained moral force by scorning the fact that “pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue states.”Leaving aside the utter stupidity of doubting the younger Obama's sincerity by employing the same "slicing and dicing" rhetoric he rejected, what's slicey and dicey about einspiring African Americans to join in the political process in higher numbers than ever before? What is divisive about removing obstacles to LGBT Americans participating in basic institutions of American society? What is exclusionary about decrying income inequality, promoting fair pay for women, or I dunno, vastly increased access to health care? If Harwood would put aside the calculator for a moment and scan the headlines, he might see that the President is pushing as hard as the delicate sensibilities of easily-offended conservatives will allow for a path to citizenship for about 10 million undocumented immigrants who are already here.
“There’s not a liberal America and a conservative America,” Mr. Obama said then. “There’s not a black America and a white America and Latino America and Asian America – there’s the United States of America.”
As Mr. Obama’s presidential travel shows, his White House has sliced and diced as finely as any.
I guess if you consider the removal of barriers that "slice and dice" our nation into rich and poor, minority and white, women and men, rightful citizens and thieving illegals, gay soldiers and straight soldiers -- regardless of whether they live in Wyoming or swing-state Ohio -- as "failing to bridge the divide", Obama is about the most partisan jerk to ever swagger around the White House.
Point is, the yawning, gaping disconnect between the media's perception of Obama's failed outreach and the tangible results of Obama's 4.5 years of running the executive branch is reaching a zenith. Maureen Dowd can't believe how arrogant Obama is to not play in the muck of Washington's personal politics; Harwood can't understand why the President is nibbling apple pie at every county fair from Butte to Cut Bank; Rick Santelli is incredulous at Obama's nerve to criticize those who used our financial system as a slot machine and then asked for more quarters when they went broke.
How terribly unfortunate for Kansas. Meanwhile, this gay-married, health care-desiring, student loan-holding grandchild of undocumented immigrants thinks the President is reaching out just fine.