I think Brendan Nyhan and John Sides, while right about the underlying argument, go a bit too far in faulting “the press” broadly—as opposed to activist journalist-pundits—for fostering what Nyhan calls “the Green Lantern theory of the presidency” in coverage of the health care reform debate. At least recently, my read is that much of the coverage in major newspapers has been pretty focused on Congress, and has portrayed the bill’s uncertain fate more as a product of Senate politicking and legislative math than presidential fortitude (which is not to say the coverage has been perfect, or that mainstream coverage during, say, the 2008 campaign didn’t create an exaggerated sense of a president’s powers to set domestic policy).

But on other subjects, Green Lantern thinking is alive and well. Here’s how The New York Times frames Barack Obama’s trip to the climate-change summit in Copenhagen in its lead story today:

COPENHAGEN — President Obama arrives here on Friday morning bent on applying a combination of muscle and personal charm to secure a climate change agreement involving nearly 200 countries…

…The world is looking to Mr. Obama to wrest some credible success from this process…

…Mr. Obama is putting a measure of his and the nation’s prestige on the line…

The rest of the article, which gets into the details of negotiations, is better. But reading this opening material, I wondered whether the president had crossed the Atlantic in an airplane, or wearing spandex and a cape—and whether the fate of the Copenhagen talks was important because we need to address climate change, or to measure Obama’s stock of political capital.

Greg Marx is a CJR staff writer. Follow him on Twitter @gregamarx.