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September 30, 2013

Harry Reid, Leader of the "No Compromise" Caucus

At Politico.

It's, yes, all about politics.

Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid has been the most ardent proponent of President Barack Obama taking a hard line with House Republicans in the latest fiscal crisis engulfing Washington.

And so far, Reid is getting his way.

When the president considered sitting down with the four congressional leaders in the White House ahead of the deadline to avert a government shutdown, Reid privately urged Obama to call off the meeting, according to several people familiar with the situation. Reid believed that it would amount to nothing more than a photo-op that would give the false impression that a serious negotiation was occurring, even warning he wouldn’t attend such a session. Obama scrapped it.

As Washington barrels forward to the first government shutdown in 17 years on Tuesday, the wily Reid has taken the lead role in pushing a hardball Democratic legislative strategy that can be summed up like this: Make the Republicans cave.

“He’s been the rock … and he’s had our whole caucus behind him,” said Sen. Chuck Schumer (D-N.Y.), a close Reid ally who spoke with the majority leader nine times on Saturday afternoon.

Note that despite conceding the obvious -- that Reid, proudly, refuses to compromise, and that he does so for a partisan purpose -- Politico reports on this quite neutrally, apart from the times it's outright praising Reid for his "wiliness."

I've written a lot about supposedly Neutral Story Lines. These are storylines which have the superficial appearance of ideological neutrality -- "compromise" does not have a particular ideological bent -- and yet are deployed in a strictly partisan fashion by the media.

Yes, praising compromise and attacking those who refuse to is, on the surface, a non-ideological take.

But let's look beyond the surface. Let's look when the "Compromise Is Bad" storyline is deployed -- It is only deployed when conservatives are standing firm.

Meanwhile, Reid's partisan hardline stance is called "wily" and another Democrat is quoted to call him "our rock."

On its face the storyline is Neutral. But only on its face. Because the media that attacks Cruz for his "purism" and "unwillingness to compromise" will turn around the very next day and laud Harry Reid for exactly the same thing.

It should be noted this distinction is familiar to any lawyer or jurist. A law may be facially neutral vis-a-vis things it is required to be neutral about (race, political speech), but if it can be struck down as discriminatory as applied.

Almost all of the media's beloved Neutral Story Lines are in this second category -- facially neutral, discriminatory as applied. A court would strike down the media's "Neutral Story Lines" as odious and a fraud on the public, were it empowered to rule on such matters.

I repeat my eternal question: Why is the first, second, and last utterance of an industry supposedly devoted to The Truth always a noxious lie?

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posted by Ace at 02:43 PM

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