If you haven't read Paul Waldman's piece on how President Obama hasn't really moved to the not-really-there-center so much as remained the same person he's always been, I urge you to do so. What's true about Obama is that progressives have always been inclined to see him as more progressive than he probably is in practice, despite what he may believe, and the right is always going to be opposed to him whatever he does. (The fact that Obama hasn't changed much since he hit the national stage with his 2004 Democratic Convention address is something his aides want to hammer home, too.)
What's interesting to me is how ready the press was to see Obama do what they expected him to do: triangulate, the way Bill Clinton did after 1994. If anything, the headlines Waldman points to from major newspapers after the State of the Union address show how often news analysis hides as straight news reporting, and how often narratives are influenced by those who want stories to have a narrative. (Maybe the fact that the Obama White House pushed back on the narrative that the president was shifting to the center made reporters suspicious, too.) It also shows the real bias in news reporting -- a bias toward news. "Obama Staying Exactly the Same as He's Always Been," isn't much of a headline, and newspaper reporters have to ferret out hints of something changing, something new, wherever possible. It's bad, though, when it isn't really true.
-- Monica Potts
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