Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Obama's problems: a classic Beltway Village version

This article from Politico, President Obama isolated ahead of 2012 by Beltway Villagers Mike Allen and Jim Vandehei 11/08/2010, sent Glenn Greenwald into orbit, as one can read in his The self-absorption of America's ruling class Salon 11/08/2010. Glenn has important points to make and makes them in clear prose, as always.

But what especially caught my attention about the Politico piece is that it's full of the standard lazy journalistic anonymous quotes, coming from unknown Democrats sniping at the White House. It's the kind of thing that journalists should stop giving anonymity for. But that would mean they would have to practice journalism. What is striking is the content of the only three on-the-record criticisms (my emphasis):

Florida Democratic gubernatorial nominee Alex Sink took it further, hitting a "tone-deaf" Obama White House to explain why she narrowly lost her campaign, saying the administration mishandled the BP oil spill and hasn't fully grasped the political damage done by Obama's health care reform push. "They just need to be better listeners and be better at reaching out to people who are on the ground to hear about the realities of their policies as well as politics," Sink told POLITICO.
"President Obama has done a lot for the people of Michigan, including rescuing state services and saving GM and Chrysler," said former Michigan Gov. Jim Blanchard, a Democrat and Obama supporter. "We'd like to see a political operation in Michigan commensurate with his achievements."
Rep. George Miller (D-Calif.) expressed a much deeper frustration to POLITICO: that the president never had House Speaker Nancy Pelosi's back — and it cost both of them. "They not only failed to defend her and her accomplishments on their behalf," said Miller of the White House, "they failed to defend themselves."
The only on-the-record quotes praise him for saving GM and Chrysler, a genuine positive accomplishment that saved jobs, protected the American manufacturing base and supported the United Auto Workers. The Republicans were willing to lot them go under to break the UAW, one of the country's strongest unions. And they criticize him for not coming down hard enough against BP on the Gulf oil disaster. And for not defending their own official positions after Speaker Pelosi got them passed through the House. Miller's given quote wasn't specific, but the most painful example of that was the House passing health care reform with the public option and the White House fighting hard on behalf of health-care-business lobbyists to take it out.

In other words, from the on-the-record commenters: acting like a real Democrat is good. Not acting enough like a partisan Democrat determined to pass the programs on which he was elected is not good.

The anonymous bitching that makes up most of the article, though, is more stuff like this:

One veteran Democrat recalled a group of Obama donors who were chatting at last December’s State Department holiday party, hosted by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton. "Half of them were upset because they had not been invited to a White House party," this Democrat recalled.
This is the stuff that's important to the Villagers. Some donors looking for favors didn't get invited to all the parties they wanted!

And this anonymous charge just brings tears of sympathy to my eyes: "Democratic lobbyists say they're upset that the president had not only vilified their profession but frozen them out of discussions on key issues." Obama didn't do everything some lobbyist wanted! Oh noes!

Stenographers Allen and Vanderhei explain why it's sad that some anonymous lobbyists feel insufficiently catered to:

While the lobbying community is usually covered by the media like a crime beat, most lobbyists are policy experts who often provide input on commissions and other advisory boards. So lobbyists argue that the White House shunning has cost the president valuable advice, political intelligence and institutional backup.
Yes, those nice lobbyists are just disinterested citizens providing helpful expertise and advice while, uh, being paid big bucks to get things passed their clients want.

Oh, and some anonymous businesspeople say Obama is a socialist, or something, and he doesn't schmooze with them enough. It breaks my heart, I tell you. I feel so sorry for them.

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