No one trusts the person who starts making fun of other people as soon as they leave the room because it makes you wonder: What is he saying about me when my back is turned? Krugman:
What I think of is the contrast between how Obama operates and how Bush operated. Bush and his handlers were masters of dog-whistle politics — of conveying to their base, in ways that went under the radar of mainstream media, the message that he was really one of them. The vaguely Biblical language about evildoers, for example, struck most mainstream commentators as being slightly odd, but never mind; what it conveyed to the religious right, however, was the message that Bush was a dominionist at heart.
Obama, however, seems to go out of his way to convey the message that although he rode to office on a wave of progressive enthusiasm, he and his people don’t respect the people who got him where he is. There are the gratuitous jabs at the “professional left”, the “both sides are wrong” rhetoric even as the right goes all out to destroy him, and stuff like Lew’s testimony. I mean, how hard would it be to have a little message discipline here?
In fact, it often seems to me that there’s an almost compulsive aspect to the administration’s anti-dog whistling. Maybe it comes from hanging out with the political and business establishment, which leads to a desire to seem respectable by dissing the DFHs. But memo to the president: Wall Street will hate you anyway. All you’re doing is undermining the enthusiasm of people you need.
Just to be clear: I’m not saying that it would be right or justified for progressives to take their ball and go home. Obama has brought real change — above all, health reform, imperfect as it is (and if it survives). But yelling at the base won’t get them up and going; a little respect might.