On March 16 of this year, I wrote:
I've been doing this blog for over two years and one of the constants has been the Intelligencer's and the News-Register's refusal to acknowledge that President Obama has ever acted for what he believes is the best interest of the country; that, at the least, his actions might be well-intentioned but, as the "newspapers" see it, wrong. No, the editorials and Mike Myer columns consistently demonize him by seldom explaining his motives or worse, attributing the worst possible reasons for his actions.
The motivation most frequently attributed to Obama's actions is that he has a "vendetta" against us and its usage appears to be increasing -- we've seen the word in three editorials in just the last two weeks. From an August 30 Intelligencer editorial:
Both surface and underground mines would be affected in what clearly is pursuit of a vendetta against the industry.
From an Intelligencer editorial last Wednesday:
To this White House, how state regulatory agencies handle the coal, natural gas and oil industries is of no consequence. The vendetta against fossil fuels must be pursued, in Obama's mind.
And from an editorial in Friday's Intelligencer:
But discussing the new mines in the context of Obama's very successful vendetta is talking apples and oranges, as any miner understands.
Different dictionaries will define "vendetta" in slightly different ways but they all use the words "blood feud." For instance, from the Oxford Dictionary:
A blood feud in which the family of a murdered person seeks vengeance on the murderer or the murderer’s family.
From the Merriam-Webster Dictionary:
1: blood feud. 2: an often prolonged series of retaliatory, vengeful, or hostile acts or exchange of such acts
Finally, Vocabulary.com provides a definition and an example:
A vendetta is a blood feud, a quest for revenge. A vendetta might separate families for generations, with members of one family murdering those of the other, all to satisfy an ancient grudge.
Two years ago when I first noted their use of "vendetta," I joked about it. (In one of my posts, I included a picture of V.) Eventually I realized that this was not exaggerated language used for effect -- it was language with a purpose. But what was the purpose? If you review the "vendetta" editorials, no explanation is ever given as to why Obama is pursuing a blood feud against coal mining and West Virginians. Additionally the papers refuse to give him any credit or even acknowledge that the president could possibly be motivated by what he believes is the best for the future of the planet, or perhaps more politically, what a clear majority of Americans want him to do. To do so would be to change the topic for debate from "how can we end Obama's vendetta against the fossil fuel industry?" to "what role should fossil fuels play in America's energy future?"
Editorials, in discussing policy decisions (what we should do), ought to be about rational decision-making. For instance, on the issue of climate change it appears that the growing body of scientific evidence supports our taking steps to slow the global warming process; this argument for doing something would also appear to be getting more and more popular support (even among Republicans). On the other hand, these are increasingly desperate times for climate deniers and those who argue that coal is still the energy source for the future. Even those who argue that the "Clean Power Plan" has gone too far are facing increasing resistance from the general public. (See this recent debate for instance.) Faced with the difficulty of finding evidence to support a rational decision-making editorial, the local papers have resorted to scare tactics: it would be "difficult" or "impossible" to operate mines near small streams (August 30 editorial) and the EPA may not allow the proposed cracker plant (September 7). More importantly (and a likely sign of their desperation), the local "newspapers"have increased the scapegoating of the president for the never-explained "blood feud" that he has with fossil fuels and the citizens of West Virginia.
Part 2 will look at why it has worked.