I’ve blogged before about Obama Derangement Syndrome, and its more prevalent predecessor, Bush Derangement Syndrome. But the ODS virus now shows signs of mutating into a subtler strain.
Let’s call it Obama-Euphoria Debunking Syndrome (OEDS).
James Taranto, whose Best of the Web Today is the one blog I make certain to read every day, has always scrupulously resisted lapsing into ODS. Today, for example, he offers this observation:
Actually, although we oppose many of the administration’s initiatives, we think reflexive opposition is irresponsible and stupid. And, because we love America, it pleases us when the administration does something we think is right.
Well put. As another prominent blogger put it, “conservatives should support Obama when he gets something right.”
But while Taranto has avoided ODS, today’s column shows troubling symptoms of OEDS, as Taranto takes a swing at one of his favorite punching bags, Reuters.
Some background: Taranto’s scorn toward Reuters dates back at least to September 24, 2001. On that day, with the ruins still smoldering in lower Manhattan, he quoted a Reuters executive who forbade his reporters from describing the recent unpleasantness as “terrorism” because “we all know that one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter.”
Ever since, Taranto has been on the alert for signs of hypocrisy in what the news service reports. (Or as he likes to put it, in what the “news” service “reports.”) In January, for example, in an item about torture allegations, he noted: “Reuters, which is careful not to use the word terrorism outside scare quotes, has no objection to using torture as if it were a regular, unloaded word.”
At other times he has referred to “the wire service’s odious anti-American bias,” “Reuterian anti-Americanism,” etc. After an unidentified Reuters editor rewrote a Deanna Wrenn article to turn it into an America-bashing screed, he challenged a different Reuters article by saying “The piece is bylined “Joseph Logan,” but who knows if someone by that name actually wrote it; as Deanna Wrenn found out, Reuters isn’t above fraudulently affixing someone’s byline to its anti-American boilerplate.”
Like other conservative bloggers, Taranto has repeatedly commented about the sharp contrast between the news media’s treatment of Obama and Bush. A January column was an opportunity for a two-fer: “Reuters’ pro-Obama bias seems to be tempering its usual anti-American bias,” he wrote.
Have I mentioned that Taranto doesn’t like Reuters?
I thought about coining the term “Reuters Derangement Syndrome” for this post, but Taranto is not deranged and Reuters is not that important. Obama Euphoria-Debunking Syndrome (I’m not sure where the hyphen belongs) is a much less toxic malady. Here’s the post today that makes me think Taranto may have an OEDS sniffle (emphasis added):
U.S. homebuilder sentiment jumped to its highest level in eight months in May, a private survey showed on Monday, supporting views that the three-year housing slump might be close to an end.
Now wait a second. Another way of describing this is that homebuilder sentiment remains lower today than it was eight months ago, which was well into the three-year slump. How can this possibly support the view that the slump is close to an end?
Wait, it just occurred to us that something has changed since September that may be affecting Reuters’ evaluation of the housing market.
The change he refers to, of course, is the transition from Bush to Obama. But Taranto, who may be seeing what he is predisposed to see, overstates his case. The Reuters report seems appropriately hedged, and at worst represents wishful thinking. To answer Taranto’s boldfaced question: Sentiment generally has been declining for three years. Sentiment apparently is improving now, and if it continues to improve, the slump will end. The term “slump” doesn’t appear to have a specific definition in this context, but if it’s analogous to a recession, the slump can be said to have ended at the point the sentiment changed direction.
(Pointillist drawing of Taranto is probably originally from the WSJ and may be copyrighted; I found it here.)