As Media Matters notes, some chatterers on teevee (especially, but not exclusively, at Fox) are all aflutter trying to insinuate that a grown-up president giving a speech to other adult human beings in which he honestly discusses both differences and areas of agreement, and in which he shows respect and doesn't act belligerent as a sign of "strength" that will only come back to haunt his country as blowback, is a big scandal and evidence of his desire to...do something. What, exactly, he will do other than improve our image in the world and diffuse a portion of the recruitment capacity of terrorist groups is not particularly clear. But Republicans, and their media enablers, demand anger. And bombs. Or something.
ABC has decided that the opinion of a man, Sean Hannity, hell-bent on spending his entire waking life tearing the President apart is serious news and worth reporting on - and isn't capable of noticing the incredible paranoia and creepy, totally-losing-it mode of quotes like
"There are a lot of questions about what his real motivations are here, but it seemed like a political speech to me."
His real motivations...let's see...could be something like fixing the damage done by your hero George W. Bush. Making America safer. Working for peace between Israelis and Palestinians. Rebuilding alliances and regaining our place in the world. Opening a dialogue. Things which are no small task even when the prior eight years haven't been spent working in the opposite direction.
I'm not even sure what "political" motivation is possible here. I'm trying to read into the fevered, unhinged thinking of Mr. Hannity, but I guess when everything you think and do is all politics, all the time, that gets projected out into the world onto people who are actually trying to do something for legitimate reasons. His hate has blinded him, and he's reaching out for anything at all to criticize. Spicy mustard is for elites, New York opera is for people who hate taxpayers...and an incredible speech to a part of the world that is distrustful of America must be political! Yeah, that's the ticket!
To ABC this is all rational political commentary. And equal to the opinion of the Secretary of State. The administration tries to repair damage that will take decades to fix, Hannity screams at the stars and moon, and ABC dutifully reports the ravings of a man who seems to be nearing the breaking point.
Meanwhile, over at the LA Times, the headline is: Do Obama's words reveal his Middle East sympathies?
The article is a smear job attempting to rehash the Obama-as-Muslim claims, and attempting to raise fears that we still can't be sure of "what Obama stands for." Because when a president does his best to keep us safe and bridge a divide between regions and religions, there is something clearly insidious going on...yes...yes, there is something very unsettling when a president acts like an adult and speaks to other world leaders as adults and equals. He ought to be putting them down! Axis of evil and all that noise. That's what the American people surely want!
As a presidential candidate, Barack Obama left some fuzzy edges to his biography. He affirmed strong support for Israel but implied a strong empathy for Palestinians. His personal story played up his introduction to the black church, leaving his father's Islamic roots in the shadows.
It was a narrative designed to ease any voter concern about Obama's background and counter false Internet rumors that he was a Muslim.
But now, with Thursday's speech in Cairo, Obama is laying bare more of his sympathies and inclinations in the volatile area of Middle East politics.
Sympathy is bad. Like empathy. Feelings in general can really just go take a hike! We like our presidents like we like our beer - cold and uncompromising. Hoppy and angry. And by the by, if candidate Obama told us of his "strong empathy" for Palestinians, what's the surprise right now with President Obama? Seems like the edges weren't so fuzzy.
The screed then goes on to provide a litany of grievances that "some allies" of Israel might have with the speech, insinuate that Obama should have discussed how the Bible gives Jews rightful ownership of land, and then helpfully explain that all of this shows how Obama is "still introducing himself." I guess because of unsourced complaints in this very article and unwillingness to have a lack of tact in his speech. (I know, the logic's overwhelming. Try to keep pace.)
I take it from the piece of writing that the author views whatever Obama is introducing as bad, rather than an obvious first step toward improved relations with Arab and Muslim nations and people. Or that we should at least be skeptical, and not thankful, in regards this speech in Cairo.
The writer ultimately proves his inability to accurately analyze a situation when he throws out this gem:
In some cases, as in his speech last month at Notre Dame, there were few signs that either side in the decades-long fight over abortion rights felt obliged to give ground.
As if the objective had anything to do with making people compromise on their values. The speech was planned prior to the controversy - else there wouldn't have been a controversy in the first place (plans first, then anger about plans) - and was ultimately given in part, due to the controversy, to acknowledge the division over abortion in a grown-up fashion. A fashion in which all views are respected, and the primary goal is to find a framework for discussion without resorting to heated rhetoric. Never, never, never - before, during, or after - was the goal of speaking at Notre Dame to change opinions about abortion.
We're then treated to concern trolling and extreme word parsing:
In particular, Diament was troubled that Obama shifted from his previous use of the term "Jewish state" and referred instead to a Jewish "homeland." It is a subtle distinction, but Israel advocates worry that it implies a downgrading in status.
"Every individual brings his own baggage," Foxman said. "He's an African American . . . and he has rediscovered his Islamic roots after two years. I don't like it, but I understand it."
and a lil' piece of that incessant, annoying-as-all-get-the-F-out, modern reporting that requires traditional journalists to see every paragraph as a chance to cancel out everything they've already written in order to provide "balance" (or grind a political axe):
Many Jewish leaders reacted with praise for much of Obama's speech, including his assurances that U.S.-Israel ties were "unbreakable" and his call for Muslims to reject violence. But there was also a concern because Obama does not have the long public record on Middle East politics that most other national leaders have developed by the time they run for the White House.
Which certainly means we need to spend the rest of the "article" complaining about how Obama is too respectful and even-handed. Imagine this bastard! This cat wants to be compassionate or some crap!
Several Jewish leaders described Obama's stance toward Iran's nuclear ambitions as too soft. Some also complained that he did not label Hamas a terrorist group, as he had in the campaign. Instead, he used more diplomatic terms, saying that to "play a role in fulfilling Palestinian aspirations . . . Hamas must put an end to violence, recognize past agreements, recognize Israel's right to exist."
I always hear "put an end to violence" as "blow shit up for funsies." But that's ole' Anima for ya! And apparently a lot of other people.
Others said they were troubled by Obama's apparent desire to be evenhanded in his descriptions of the region's history.
Good God, not that! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!
Said David Harris, executive director of the American Jewish Committee: "It's the search for the perfect balance that sometimes concerns me."
We're all screwed. This Obama guy has killed us with his precious balance.