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Washington Post Crashed-and-Burned Watch ("Bipartisanship Fetish" Department)

From Matthew Yglesias:

Matthew Yglesias: Leave George W. Bush Aloooooone: The country is in a terrible situation in economic, strategic, and budgetary terms and it’s overwhelmingly the fault of the team that was running the show before January 20th. Naturally, the team that’s been running the show since January 20th wants people to understand the baseline conditions against which they should be judged. The Washington Post is mightily displeased. Apparently we’re just supposed to pretend that this all happened by coincidence...

And Steve Benen:

The Washington Monthly: THE BLAME GAME.... The Washington Post has an odd front-page piece today, rebuking President Obama for reminding audiences that the problems he inherited are, well, problems he inherited.... The problem, if I'm reading the article right, isn't that the president is saying anything untrue. Rather, we're dealing with a dynamic in which one president hands off a catastrophe -- several catastrophes, actually -- to a successor, and the successor isn't supposed to talk about it.

Indeed, the Post's Scott Wilson seems to think the president has exceeded political norms by pointing to the almost-comical mess Bush left on Obama's desk. Wilson chides Obama for using "acid" reminders, offering "partisan" defenses, sounding "petty." To highlight his point, Wilson pointed to the president saying recently that "we've inherited a terrible mess." That doesn't sound especially "acid," "partisan," or "petty" to me, but your mileage may vary.

The criticism is misplaced here. The typical presidential speech lately starts by acknowledging a problem, followed by some talk about how the problem was created, followed by a description of what he'd like to do about it. If Obama reminds audiences that the disaster(s) he inherited aren't his fault, and that's all he did -- dwell on the past, fail to present solutions -- it would be a problem. But that's clearly not the case. Bush left Obama to clean up an economic crisis, an abysmal job market, a budget mess, a failing financial industry, a collapsing U.S. auto industry, global warming, an absurd health care system, an equally absurd energy framework, and two costly wars. Reminding Americans of where we've come from and where we're going doesn't seem unreasonable.

The point of articles like these seems to be freeing Bush of accountability and responsibility for his devastating failures. Here's hoping the White House ignores the Post's advice.

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