I was explaining to a friend over vacation my goals of maintaining the positive tone of this blog, and keeping it supportive of the Obama administration. He asked me what I do in situations where I might not agree with a particular presidential decision. My answer was that I never face such a dilemma, though I had some difficulty explaining why not. It's not that I think the president is perfect, or that I agree with every single thing he does. In fact, I think it would be odd to agree with anyone 100% of the time. But I would turn the question around this way: If I agree with someone 90% of the time, why on earth would I feel compelled to attack him for the 10% of the time where I personally might see an issue in a slightly different way? I would rather try to understand or explain or reconcile myself to those few areas of disagreement.
Most professional pundits seem to see their job quite differently. They seem to feel an obligation to criticize everything they do not personally agree with, as if we should judge any public figure's actions by just how often they happen to agree with the personal views of whichever exalted columnist is keeping score. And I would tell such critics--I'm talking to you, Frank Rich--that it's fine if you want to announce every time you personally don't like a presidential speech. Maybe you think it adds to your credibility by serving as a critic. (Or maybe you think your job is to review the administration as if they were putting on a Broadway show.) But if you're going to do that, I would also like to see you admit once in a while that there might have been a few occasions when you were wrong and the administration was right. Or else explain what makes you so perfect.
I'm not a professional pundit. I'm a trial lawyer. So it comes more naturally to me to adopt someone I admire as if they were a client. That means I see it as my "job" to represent the administration faithfully, and to make the best case for them that I can. I'll leave it to others to take the other side if they want. I don't envy the critics, however, because the case for the other side is pretty weak.
(still from Some Like It Hot)