Agency in the Oval Office

Reporting on Obama seems to me characterized by the lack of agency portrayed.

This is quite a contrast to the Bush years, which were all about agency: “Bush lied, people died.” Cheney as the Lord of Evil. Etc.

One rarely reads about such actors in the Obama reporting. Instead, it’s always a “highly placed aide,” or a “policy/political aide” describing in vague terms forces prevailing to one extent or another in consequences, but rarely actions.

When Bush was in office, most of the press considered him an idiot, but never the puppet Obama presents as. Did Obama lie? Well, political aides are said to have vetoed suggestions by policy aides that some of his speeches be differently phrased.

Passive constructions are not always improper, but here they just conceal. They’re used either to shield Obama from responsibility in an obviously deceptive manner (and, even he he is as oblivious as it seems, it’s an extraordinary failure of leadership), or Obama is just a cartoon mouthpiece for shadowy puppet-masters.

Incidentally, ethnic studies types often complain about portrayals of minorities without agency.


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