Browsing German newspapers, newschannels, blogs and news websites these days there is one thing that bugs me, even though it is understandable since this is Germany and the focus is on German politics and economy: there is too little background information on the debt negotiations, just as there is now too little in depth analysis of the outcome. Having a closer look on what journalists
in the broad mass of the media come along with, there are mostly a handful oftendencies to be seen:
General relief over the outcomes, the fact that if senate now agrees to the plan, the US will not default. In combination with that, the media points out the possible consequences and what if scenarios of a “what would have been if…”
Mostly, this is seen as a long, tiresome battle, one that is now almost over but that does not really know winners, just losers. Mostly also, the German media, while sympathizing with Obama and his goals, sees him as the one that got the shorter end of the stick in all this and this brings me to the third thing that bugs me the most
Lack of in depth political analysis in the mainstream media. What they see is the surface, is the part of “what did which party want and what did they get”, is the part of “what does that mean now?”, not the long run, not the backgrounds of why was the deal really struck that way, not the finer tunings. Only few have a deeper look at things, and treat the Tea Party and the danger they caused as more than a group that is called “the radical right”. Because make no mistake, across the political spectrum, the Tea Party is seen as the people that block things, that
repeatedly blocked compromise, but news and reports here seldomly go far enough to actually point out the Tea Party´s motives and why they are so problematic.
When and if the problem of the Tea Party and their role in the crisis is brought to the table, then it is mostly in a way similar to this:
“So why did it take so long to come to a fowl compromise nobody really likes much anyways? In the end, and that is the sad footnote at the end of this political grotesque, it is all about the national elections. Republicans were under the influence of the far right of their party, the so called Tea Party who hope to chase Obama out of the White House next year. “
However, I came across a few news items that actually have a little bit of a broader look, that include the meaning things might have for the 2012 elections and that characterize the overall atmosphere created by the Tea Party as something that deserves more than half a sentence. Here are some:
(Please bear in mind that these are translations done by me, not originaltexts. Also, these articles do not reflect my opinion on the matter in all aspects, they are meant as an insight into the discussion here)
1) Excerpts from an article on sueddeutsche.de on the political mood and how the Tea Party contributes to it
Just one goal: eliminating your opponent.
“Congressman Joe Walsh, a Republican freshman in the House of Representatives gave a vivid example of the power of lies that is dominating the debt talks in Washington in a video message. Angrily he calls the president a liar and a ´drunken sailor´, gives him impertinent advice (“If you want to make yourself useful…”) and sets an ultimatum. Who talks like that does not want to be understood, but is merely seeking for applause for himself and his ideologic friends – he is merely seeking for the downfall of his political opponent.”
“These radicals are by now to be found everywhere in America. They write in magazines, talk on tv, stage in churches and vomit kilobytes of websites. They barely seek direct
confrontation but prefer to stay amongst themselves and look for approval in their own biotope.”
“George Bush´s election, won by the courts in 2000 and the radicalization after 9/11 plus the raise in ideology of the neocons made things drift even further. Then, the country, seeking for correction of this, elected the reconciler Barack Obama. But America has no place for reconcilers”.
The debt crisis may be over now, because in the end the fear over economic collapse was overpowering. What is not over is America´s eternal conflict over theseparation of tasks between state and citizen, the meaning of the social system, about power and government. Obama´s election had been celebrated as a revolution by democrats, now conservatives called for counter revolution. They
erected a few barriers and numbed the system. They threaten to pull everything into the abyss. However, in the end they are merely the product of a system that rewards extremism and that forgot about compromise.”
2) Excerpt from an article on sueddeutsche.de on the outcome for PBO
“Obama saved his reputation as president
Many Republicans feared in the end that a failure of the debt talks would be blamed on them, while Obama – just like Clinton did back in the day – would have
profited. But another scenario is more likely. That Obama´s reputation as a leader would have suffered. And that he would have been the one to bear the blame for economic
collapse. The lower economic growth is, the harder it is for the US president to get reelected. Unemployment rates are already around 9 per cent and the
planned cuts will make it difficult to create many new jobs.
Obama can enter the election year of 2012 without pressure
However, the most important success for Obama: he no longer needs to fear that the Tea Party comes up with questions about the debt ceiling once more, as the original
Boehner plan would have done. He can plan 2012 now without having to pay too much attention to the shrill rhetoric of the far right.
Obama gathers bonus points in the political centre
Republicans, especially Tea Party members, like calling Obama a socialist. This argument loses its strength after the compromise, especially with voters from the political
centres that got the Democrats into the White House in 2008 and that will decide the election of 2012. The 49 year old Democrat already proclaims to work
on getting spending to the lowest point of the last 50 years. “In the short run, all parties will suffer politically” so David Axelrod. “In the long run,
Republicans hurt their reputation terribly because they are now defined by their most extreme voies.”
Even though this comes from a Democrat. The Republicans have to expect that even with a moderately conservative possible candidate like Mitt Romney they will be pulled
to the right edge of their party. “