Monday, October 12, 2009

An Obama Admin Reality Check:

If one of their people gets caught saying "those bloggers need to take off the pajamas, get dressed and realize that governing a closely divided country is complicated and difficult”, what do you expect them to do, exactly?

Do you expect them to say "hell yeah, that's absolutely where we stand, SCREW the bloggers and the swivel chairs they rode in on"? Hell no.

You're going to expect them to say "that doesn't reflect White House thinking." Which they did say. Because they aren't idiots. That's why they're going anonymous in the first place!

So if you do expect to say that, don't assume that that somehow excuses everything. It doesn't signify that they didn't mean it. It doesn't signify that they've seen the error of their ways. It just signifies that they know enough to deny it on the record. But if you look at their history, like Aravosis does, the attitude becomes perfectly clear:

this isn't the first time the White House has "reportedly" criticized bloggers, or progressives. In August, they dismissed anyone who had concerns about how health care reform as "the left of the left" - which is awfully similar to the current accusation that we're "the Internet left fringe." Then a few weeks later, the president said that blogs don't fact check, and are all "people shouting at each other."

And the fact that the White House holds conference calls with bloggers is nice. But let's not exaggerate here. Those calls are as much, if not more, for the White House's benefit than for ours.

Bloggers are the only key members of the Democratic noise machine who have been shunned by the president. He met with liberal talk radio, with the partisan pundits on TV (Rachel and Keith), and even invited a conservative blogger (Andrew Sullivan) and conservative writer/activists Bill Kristol and David Brooks. But no such meeting has ever been scheduled with the liberal political blogs.

There is a pattern of disdain for, and distrust of, the blogs that started with the Obama campaign two years ago, and now has extended into the Obama White House. Privately, both the campaign and the White House have been happy to ask the Netroots for help when the going gets tough (Joe and I alone, via this blog, raised $50,000 for Barack Obama - and I suspect Jane and Markos and Duncan and others have raised a lot more than that). And in spite of our differences with Barack Obama, the Netroots have been happy to help the President when called upon. But publicly, Team Obama keeps us, like much of the core Democratic constituencies, at arm's length.
He doesn't pay enough attention to his base because he takes them for granted. Fine. We knew that.

But the bigger story here is that they really, really don't like blogs, or bloggers, or independent, not-for-profit online journalism and commentary in general. They're fine with the Washington Press, since they love their empty little stories about horse racing, parrot the conventional wisdom, and are people that you can intimidate or reward with access to the administration and its officials. They don't even mind the hard right, I suspect, since they're a known quantity and are expected to be the opposition. But loud, unpredictable, passionate, dissatisfied liberals and progressives with a megaphone and an attitude are just dangerous. They write inconvenient things. They either don't know or don't care about what is or isn't "out of bounds" to believe. They don't care about access, and they despise lobbyists as much as the Admin once pretended to.

They aren't playing the game. They aren't to be trusted. So anonymous "pyjamas" it is.

No comments:

Post a Comment