Avoiding Pigeonholes, Ctd

Steinglass defends his belief that bloggers "have an incentive to condemn and satirize in all political directions so as to maintain their claim to ideological independence". He illustrates his point:

I think one of the best examples of the risk one avoids through the easy out of constant cynical is the problem Sullivan has in his treatment of Barack Obama.

I’m actually with Sullivan on this: Barack Obama is an enormously talented politician and a deeply ethical guy, with a complex and sophisticated view of how politics works and of how to be responsible in trying to strengthen the polity and improve people’s lives through the messy medium of politics. I give him an enormous benefit of the doubt in almost any situation, both in terms of his intentions and in terms of whether his take on an issue is better than mine. This is true of Sullivan as well. But the risk Sullivan has run in his very admiring writing on Obama is that many readers will come to see him as a cheerleader.

I don’t think this is fair, and I think that even if it’s true, that’s a problem those readers have, not a problem Sullivan has. But still, this is a risk that exists in the journalistic world. The same thing happened to Hendrik Hertzberg during the administration of another extremely talented and admirable president, Bill Clinton. It would be easy for Sullivan to avoid this risk by simply adopting a world-weary skeptical attitude towards Obama, and it’s to his credit that he’s not doing so.

But I hope it's also clear that I will not hesitate to criticize when I think it's due - on Afghanistan, Bagram, the packaging of Kagan, DADT, etc. But I remain of the view that we are indeed lucky to have Obama as president right now.