The knock on Barack Obama from the start was his unwillingness to go head to head–“mix it up a little,” as Maureen Dowd urged during the campaign. Now, after a Nobel Peace prize, he suddenly seems to be brawling with everybody, from the health insurance industry down to Fox News.
“They’re filling the airwaves with deceptive and dishonest ads,” he said this weekend in counterattacking the insurers. “They’re flooding Capitol Hill with lobbyists and campaign contributions. And they’re funding studies designed to mislead the American people.
“It’s smoke and mirrors. It’s bogus. And it’s all too familiar. Every time we get close to passing reform, the insurance companies produce these phony studies as a prescription and say, ‘Take one of these, and call us in a decade.'”
As the President takes off the gloves on health reform, his surrogates fan out to confront Rupert Murdoch’s cable minions. On ABC yesterday, David Axelrod defended Communications Director Anita Dunn’s offensive against Fox News.
“I understand that their programming is geared toward making money. The only argument Anita was making is that they’re not really a news station…it’s not just their commentators, but a lot of their news programming. It’s really not news–it’s pushing a point of view.”
Axelrod was backing up Dunn’s manifesto in a New York Times interview: “We’re going to treat them the way we would treat an opponent. As they are undertaking a war against Barack Obama and the White House, we don’t need to pretend that this is the way that legitimate news organizations behave.”