I realize it’s lame to simply quote a larger, move visible blog and say “amen” but you really can’t say this better than TPM is saying it:
But aside from the math and economics, there’s a point of media criticism that needs to be made. While the (stimulus) bill was being debated, the news media — and particularly television — focused almost entirely on the question of whether it was too big. The possibility that it was too small — which now seems likely — was seldom raised. As Krugman argues, it’s a mini-version of the press failure in the lead up to the Iraq War, with depressingly familiar dynamics.
I think the administration deserves a small amount of the blame for this for not starting the debate with a much more aggressive and expansive bill, kicking off the game with the goalposts more advantageously placed, as it were. But fundamentally it goes back to that issue of DC and the national political media remaining wired for the GOP.
People who think that our brain-dead media and our even more brain-dead GOP leadership don’t affect the decisions that go on under Obama are kidding themselves. Obama — for better or for worse, and in this case certainly for the worse — is a pragmatist who is only likely to push for things that he thinks are possible in our current media/political environment. That’s why we’re unlikely to see universal health care under him, even if we do see some improvement in the national health care system.
It’s perfectly reasonable to blame Obama for not shoving this stuff down the Beltway Establishment’s throat. But it’s naive to think that he wouldn’t have to push pretty hard to make them swallow it.