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Andrew Bolt

Feb 28, 2009

"Spivs and chancers"

In his Friday column, Andrew Bolt launches a best-of-the-rightwing-web attack on the new US Preside

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In his Friday column, Andrew Bolt launches a best-of-the-rightwing-web attack on the new US President for “surrounding himself with spivs and chancers”:

GOOD thing for Barack Obama that he isn’t George Bush. He’d have been slaughtered for starting so badly that he’s picking a Cabinet of tax cheats.

Only problem is, he isn’t.

In the cabinet of fifteen people (or 22 if you include cabinet-level positions like the Vice-President), Bolt points to dodgy conduct of two. (And one of those he can only attack because her husband screwed up his taxes, not her.) Which isn’t going to sound like “surrounding” Obama to anyone.

So Bolt pads it out. He adds five dodgy politicians who were not selected by Obama. And he adds two Democrats whose finances sound a bit dodgy but who aren’t in Obama’s list of picks and he has to blandly describe as “helping Obama run the economy” – if you can tell me the specifics of what he means by that, I’d be most obliged.

In total the Southbank columnist lists nine people, only two of which are in Obama’s cabinet – hardly the new President “picking a Cabinet of tax cheats” or “surrounding himself with spivs and chancers”, which turns out to be a fairly contemptible slur on the twenty people at whom he can’t even find any particular mud to throw.

Still, he’s playing to the gallery – not seriously trying to persuade anyone not long since converted. He turns the misdeeds of three Democrats into this favourite Republican party line:

Hmm. What is it about Big Government Democrats that they so hate paying the taxes they impose on others?

Well, based on what you’ve come up with today, the evidence for that amongst Obama’s cabinet seems a little thin, doesn’t it Andrew? (Although it’s probably a common attitude amongst very rich people. Should rich politicians who personally want to avoid taxes join the Republican Party, where they’re quite open about wanting the rich to pay less tax and cut services for the poor? I’d tend to prefer that whatever their personal flaws, at least their public activities were positive for the underprivileged, but that might just be me.)

Now, to be fair, Andy is not wrong about the US Democrats being corrupt. He’s just extremely partisan to fail to acknowledge that the US Republicans are just as much, if not more so. The US system, with its permanent, unchangeable two major parties and ludicrously lax campaign finance laws, pretty much guarantees that all politicians need to be both personally rich, and completely sold out to campaign donors. It is not a surprise to anyone to find that the new Administration has difficulty finding any cabinet candidates with both experience in Washington AND clean hands. It also seems to be a bit rough to blame Obama for that.

Of course, Bolt isn’t so foolish as to claim that the Republicans were any more pure – he’s simply complaining that whilst their conduct was seen as dirty and was pilloried in the media, there seems to be little outrage against Obama. His weak suggestion (depending on the reader’s believing in “the Left-leaning media” conspiracy) is that it’s because of who he is:

WHO wants to get tough on America’s first black president?

…Obama, on the other hand, has had little such media criticism, and certainly none of that vitriol.

He can bank on more media goodwill for some time yet.

Until the other side doesn’t have to try so hard, to exaggerate and pad and twist so vigorously, to squeeze out an attack that can actually be published, I suspect, Andrew.

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