So a bunch of liberal blogger types (Atrios, Yglesias, Aravosis, Oliver Willis, Thom Hartmann, Chris Hayes, Jonathan Singer etc.) met with Jared Bernstein (Biden’s chief economic adviser) at the White House the other day, and I have to say, with the exception of AmericaBlog’s John Aravosis, they sure do sound like a bunch of well-behaved student council members called to the principal’s office.
Being liberals, I suppose they went into “thoughtful listening” mode (apparently Bernstein berated them for not being more supportive of the stimulus bill! and blamed bloggers for not doing a better sales job to the public.
From the various accounts I’ve read, sounds like most of them went into defensive mode, listing examples of what they’d written to support the stimulus instead of pushing back on the silliness of handing bloggers responsiblity for White House communication failures.
Bernstein reportedly said a lot of blah blah blah about “political constraints.” (See earlier Lawrence Lessig “political realism” post.)
I wish I’d been there. Since I don’t have a niche in the political power structure and don’t want one, I would have been more than happy to share my opinion.
“Yes, Jared, you’re right. I attacked the stimulus package because it was a shitty, half-hearted stimulus package – and it wasn’t just me who thought so. Maybe you should be bitching to Paul Krugman and Joe Stiglitz, who have much bigger podiums than we do – and by the way, maybe there’s a reason why they have the Nobel prize in economics and you don’t.
“And don’t give me that weak crap about ‘political contraints.’ This is a leadership vacuum, and your people couldn’t lead a parade out of a paper bag.
“You made a strategic error. You could have gone over the head of the hacks in Congress and made the compelling case to the public for a bigger stimulus, but instead you decided to play bipartisan statesman. And what happened? The economy was a car with two flat tires and you put a freakin’ donut tire on one wheel. Now you want us to jump up and down, applauding the subpar performance of that lopsided car, making its way down the road.
“Do you have any idea of how many people are still out of work? It’s not my job to make the White House look good. It’s my job to look out for the interests of working people. I stick up for the White House when they do something right. This wasn’t right.”
I have no patience with niceties – not with so many people in such bad shape. It’s not about the White House, it’s about those desperate people.
And no, I wouldn’t care about being invited back. They’re not listening, anyway. It’s just PR kabuki.