Five Best Sunday Columns

On hating Obama, loving Obama, and hating him all over again

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Peggy Noonan on How No One Loves Obama. Peggy Noonan has an unusually positive outlook on the debt ceiling debate: "The Republican establishment reasserted itself this week, and good thing, too, because the establishment was right...So accept victory, avert crisis, and get it to the Senate." And that's that. Having resolved this, she turns to what she actually wants to discuss, which is "something that started to become apparent to me during the debt negotiations. It's something I've never seen in national politics"..."It is that nobody loves Obama." This is "amazing" because "every president has people who love him." But not so in this case, according to Noonan. She offers as evidence: "Nobody smiles when they talk about Mr. Obama" and one "hard-line progressive" told her "I never loved Barack Obama." So why does she think the Obama is so unlovable? Because "he isn't good at politics because he doesn't really get people." She parses this out a bit more: "he's good at dismantling. He's good at critiquing" but "he's not good at building, creating, calling into being." In the debt ceiling crisis, "he was merely sly. And no one likes sly, no one respects it." Then she really cuts in with her final lines: "He is not a devil, an alien, a socialist. He is a loser. And this is America, where nobody loves a loser."

Jonathan Capehart on How Everyone Loves Obama. Peggy Noonan is wrong, Jonathan Capehart wants us to know. "Her opinion piece is all the more noteworthy for calling the president 'a loser.' There are many legitimate criticisms you could level against Obama, particularly about his governing style or his personality. But calling him a 'loser' was uncalled for." Capehart looks at Noonan's "evidence" that no one loves Obama: "She got a lot of comments that backed up her claim. But she didn’t talk to my ex, Giuseppe." Fair point. Capehart's ex, Giuseppe, is an Italian "who came to this country to pursue the American Dream and fell head over heels for Barack Obama in 2007." And this is what Giusseppe has to say about Noonan's contention: "Don’t believe her! I LOVE the guy, and I LOVE the family. Instinctively. I connect to him like I have never connected with any politician EVER before . . . here or in Italy. The man could be my friend. He speaks my language, he is smart, he is funny. I could hang out with him any time. I feel I would talk to him or share my life with him like he was you, or Marques, or Willie, or Maurice or ada! I guess Noonan doesn’t know nobody like us!" Your move, Noonan.

Glenn Greenwald on Obama's War Against Whistleblowers. In Glenn Greenwald's estimation, the Obama administration's "unprecedented war on whistleblowers" suffered two "serious and well-deserved defeats." First, "in the prosecution of NSA whistleblower Thomas Drake, who was accused of multiple acts of espionage, only for the DOJ to drop virtually all of the charges right before the trial was to begin and enter into a plea agreement for one minor misdemeanor." The second occurred "in the prosecution of former CIA officer Jeffrey Sterling, who -- like Drake -- allegedly leaked information that exposed serious ineptitude but entailed no national security harm... yesterday, U.S. District Court Judge Leonie Brinkema quashed the DOJ's subpoena, ruling in a decision (not yet public because it's now undergoing a classification review) that Risen need only testify to affirm the accuracy of what he wrote (which he had long ago offered to do)." According to Greenwald, who has expressed his dissatisfaction with the administration several times with respect to this issue, the second defeat in partcular serves to"demonstrate how legally baseless are the Obama DOJ's intimidation efforts." Nonetheless, he warns that "rejection in court does not mean they have not succeeded" -- as the two whistleblowers in question suffered a great deal before vindication -- and the "climate of fear aimed at those who expose government wrongdoing is the prime outcome, if not the prime goal, of the Obama administration's war on whistleblowers."

Maureen Dowd on on the Tea-Party Freshman. Who hasn't been waiting for Maureen Dowd to weigh in with her quirky take on the debt crisis this weekend? In her latest column, Dowd summarizes her view of the situation: "The world is watching in fearful — and sometimes gleeful — fascination as the Tea Party drives a Thunderbird off the cliff with the president and speaker of the House strapped in the back. The Dow is hiding under the bed with a glass of single malt. Can it get more excruciating? Apple has more cash than the U.S. government." But as the people of the country "tremble at the thought" of "maniacal Tea Party freshmen" governing the country, who seem intent to "burn down the House they were elected to serve," they are not given relief in the form of a strong leader. "All the leaders are followers. You have to wonder if President Obama at some level doesn’t want to lead. Maybe he just wants to be loved." Tea Party freshmen have already “neutered” the president, one Democrat worried to Dowd. And the "sighing, spectral Harry Reid does not look up to the task of taking on the freshman wolfen." Even John Boehner has been "completely outplayed by the 'hobbits'." It's time to worry: "Consider what the towel-snapping Tea Party crazies have already accomplished."

Michael Massing on Investigating Fox. "Since the outbreak of the News Corporation scandal in Britain, journalists on this side of the Atlantic have been intently scrutinizing Rupert Murdoch’s American operations in the hopes of uncovering similar improprieties," writes Massing. And as far as he's concerned, good for them:  "Such digging into Murdoch’s American operations is certainly welcome, and if it turns out that his company has broken the law here as in Britain, then journalism prizes will fly." But for all their good work, "it seems to me that these stories have overlooked the two properties in Murdoch’s portfolio that deserve the most attention. " These two properties are "the New York Post," which, under Murdoch’s control, "trafficked in the type of malicious, salacious tabloid journalism practiced by the now-defunct News of the World and the still-reeking Sun." But even that's nothing compared to "the real centerpiece of Murdoch’s American holdings, the Fox News Channel," and its relationship with politicians and the Tea Party. " However, "unlike the News of the World, there’s no indication (as of now) that Fox has engaged in illegal activity." But it has "violate[d] every journalistic and ethical standard." According to Massing, the liberal media, including David Carr, has been going easy on it. "Fear is no doubt a factor." But "last year, the New York Times sent three investigative reporters to London to dig into the hacking practices of the News of the World... Why not devote similar resources to Fox, a far more influential outlet on the home front?"

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.