The Washington Post editorial board had me fooled me for a second Friday morning.
For a brief moment, it appeared they would make the limited government argument against the liberal policies championed by 2020 Democratic primary candidates Sens. Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren.
As it turns out, though, the paper is not opposed to federal bureaucracy or even executive overreach. It just does not like Sanders or Warren.
An editorial published Thursday evening begins by quoting the Massachusetts senator, who said this week in response to criticism from the moderate wing of the Democratic Party, “I don’t understand why anybody goes to all the trouble of running for president of the United States just to talk about what we really can’t do and shouldn’t fight for.”
Sanders also said Tuesday during a primary debate in Detroit, “I get a little bit tired of Democrats afraid of big ideas.”
The Washington Post editorial, titled “Why go to the trouble of running for president to promote ideas that can’t work?”, says in response to these quotes, “This got us thinking about some big ideas in U.S history. Like, say, amending the Constitution to outlaw liquor. Or sending half a million troops into Vietnam. Or passing a $1.5 trillion tax cut for the wealthy in a time of massive deficits.”
“Ambition is essential, in other words, but not sufficient,” it adds. “The country faces big challenges, such as economic inequality and climate change, that call for creative solutions.”
Then come the following lines:
[Big challenges] also call for wisdom, honesty and even a bit of modesty about government’s limitations. Having embraced President Barack Obama’s “no drama” approach to governing, often defined by the philosophy “don’t do stupid s—,” it would be odd if Democrats suddenly embraced ideological grandiosity as a prerequisite for service in the Oval Office.
In arguing that Sanders and Warren are unrealistic, grandiose ideologues, the Washington Post points to, of all people, former President Obama. The same man who, upon becoming the presumptive Democratic nominee on June 3, 2008, told supporters in St. Paul, Minnesota, that, “we will be able to look back and tell our children that this was the moment when we began to provide care for the sick and good jobs to the jobless.”
“This was the moment,” Obama continued, the applause growing louder and more enthusiastic, “when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal, this was the moment when we ended a war, and secured our nation, and restored our image as the last, best hope on Earth.”
Obama, who coasted into the White House in 2008 and 2012 on grandiose promises, and with little to no vetting from the national press, is the person the Washington Post editorial board has in mind when it says, “Candidates who promise big ideas should also be pressed on how they will realize them.”
“[T]he United States is a vast, pluralistic country, and Congress will continue to reflect its ideological range,” the newspaper warns. “Big donors and billionaires may exercise too much influence, but Democratic primary voters should be wary of candidates who use that fact to explain away all opposition to their ideas. Even if you undid Citizens United and enacted campaign finance reform, sustainable policy in America would emerge only by means of principled compromise.”
It is almost as if the Washington Post forgets or ignores that its ideal U.S. president rather famously muscled though parts of his agenda via a “phone and a pen.” Does the newspaper believe all those executive orders overturned by President Trump appeared out of nowhere?
“The next president should have a vision of progress for the nation that is expansive and inspiring. It also should be grounded in mathematical and political reality,” the editorial concludes.
The Washington Post is not wrong when it says a president should be both pragmatic and have a realistic vision that includes compromise.
But the paper’s nostalgia for Obama, who over-promised as a candidate and gave the bird to compromise as president, suggests the paper is really more anti-Sanders and anti-Warren than it is concerned with strict practicality.
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