And Blake is out of his head: At its upper end, our political press corps is simply astounding.
If you’ve ever doubted that fact, just examine this new blog post by the Washington Post’s Aaron Blake.
Blake is a rising member of the insider press corps. The logic he displays in his post is that of an 8-year-old child. (Originally, we set the age at 9. But then, we decided to drop it.)
Blake discusses the Romney ad which shows Obama saying this: “Just like we’ve tried their plan, we tried our plan. And it worked.” In Romney’s ad, viewers get the impression that Obama meant that his plan has worked in the past few years, during the time when he was president.
But uh-oh! Reviewing Obama’s fuller statement, Blake agrees: It’s “pretty clear” that this isn’t what Obama actually meant. Obama meant that we tried the Clinton tax rates on high earners in the 1990s and things went well back then.
(For the record, it’s abundantly clear that that is what Obama meant. The Clinton tax rates haven’t been in effect in recent years. For that reason, Obama couldn’t have meant that the Clinton tax rates have worked in recent years.)
Blake says it’s pretty clear that this is what Obama meant. But good God! He then says this:
BLAKE (7/26/12): If you’re a Democrat, Romney’s ad will look wildly out of context and irresponsible.Can Republicans “make a credible case that the ad is completely justified?” Yes, they can, Blake says. After all, Obama has been in the White House for (almost) four years, and things are still bad. So his policies can’t be that great!
But if you’re a Republican, you can make a credible case that the ad is completely justified.
It goes like this: Obama was contrasting two different tax policies—one being the Republican policy, and the other being the Democrats’ policy. Obama was talking about how the Democrats’ policy is better. But Democrats have been in the White House for four years now, and things are still bad. So obviously Democrats’ policies—on taxes or otherwise—aren’t that great.
This is when you start to wonder if Blake is eight years old.
How could that Republican case be “completely justified,” given the fact that Blake agrees that isn’t what Obama said or meant? Your guess is as good as ours! In all honesty, Blake’s presentation doesn’t make any sense.
This leaves you with two basic choices:
Aaron Blake can’t reason at all. Or Blake is simply play-acting, pretending to be fair and balanced.
For what it’s worth, we wouldn’t rule the first option out. Incredibly enough, this is where Blake goes next:
BLAKE (continuing directly): If you’re predisposed against Romney, that sort of justification will seem ludicrous and make your skin crawl. But it paints just enough of a gray area over the whole matter to justify the attack.Why does Blake say that Republicans “can make a credible case that the ad is completely justified?” Because an argument Blake agrees is wrong “paints just enough of a gray area over the whole matter to justify the attack.” Because it “clarifies a caricature.” Because “people who don’t dissect this stuff as much as we do are going to take the pulled quotes at face value!”
Romney may be attacked in the days ahead for running an out-of-context campaign, and some objective reporters might even say it has gone too far.
But the fact is that these two comments further clarify a picture (or caricature, depending on where you stand) of Obama that’s already out there. And plenty of—nay, almost all—people who don’t dissect this stuff as much as we do are going to take the pulled quotes at face value.
Is it warm and fuzzy? No. Does it work? Yes. And that’s why they do it.
Does Aaron Blake know what it means to say a claim is "completely justified?" There's little sign that he does. By the end of his post, he seems to say that a claim is completely justified “if it works”—that is, if people believe it.
No, that doesn’t make normal sense. But this is America’s mainstream press corps, right at the top of the pack.
Nine-year-olds reason more clearly than that. Do you think Blake is sincere?
Does Aaron Blake speak English: Blake's headline clarifies his confusion:
Context be damned: Obama’s ‘It worked’ quote should work for RepublicansWe agree—the ad may work. Voters may believe its message. But how does that mean that its claim is "completely justified?"
Aaron Blake doesn't seem to speak English. This is the shape of your "press corps."