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Obama, Micromanaging, and the WSJ Revisited

A reader e-mailed just before I went on vacation to quibble with my take on the Journal's "A President as Micromanager" story from two weeks ago. In my item, I argued that the piece's premise was off-base--the Journal was confusing micromanaging with craving detailed information on which to base incredibly consequential decisions. So far, so good. But then I went on to say the piece "sprinkles the micromanager charge liberally throughout," which isn't true. Beyond the headline, I see that there's really just one paragraph in the piece, albeit high up, that lays out the micromanaging premise--it hints at an analogy to Jimmy Carter and features a quote from Peter Orszag pushing back on the idea a bit. After that, there's only one more Carter allusion and no additional uses of the word "micromanager." The rest of the piece consists mostly of detailed (and useful) reporting on how Obama makes decisions.

Reading the piece over again, it's even more apparent to me that the "micromanager" frame was tacked on after the fact for the sake of even-handedness--which, unfortunately, stepped on what was otherwise a very solid piece of journalism.