I can’t state this strongly enough: I wouldn’t have gone to the White House if invited. It’s all about the dynamics of power — if what Obama wanted to do was take questions from bloggers, it could have been done over the phone and it would have been cheaper. But no, he wanted to bring them into the White House, to impress them with the full weight of history and power behind him. It would be almost impossible not to be swayed by that.
Except it probably wouldn’t have had that effect on me. (I seem to have been born missing that “deference to authority” gene. You can ask the nuns.)
Bloggers gave away most of their power (besides going there in the first place) in accepting the format of the meeting. Clearly, the attendees looked at it as a press conference. Well, when was the last time you ever heard a politician give a complete and honest answer to a press conference question? Not gonna happen!
So if Obama isn’t going to give real answers to the questions (and I think we can agree that he isn’t coming to bloggers for political strategy), what is the useful purpose of the meeting?
At that point, the only productive option would be to take the opportunity to pierce the Beltway Bubble. This is where the old “speak truth to power” mantra applies.
I would talk about my own anger, shared by so many others. I’d talk about betrayal (bargaining away the public option while pretending to pursue it), and just plain incompetence (HAMP). I’d talk about how infuriating it is to see corporate criminals walk away not only unpunished, but even richer, and how that mockery of equal justice under the law was what fueled much of the anger against him.
I’d tell him about the people who are drowning in this economic disaster, the administration’s refusal to acknowledge and address those urgent issues, and the president’s insistence on racking up “attaboys” while so many people’s lives are circling the bowl.
And yes, I would have brought up these immoral wars and his embrace of legal torture.
The emperor has no clothes. Maybe it’s just me, but it seems to me that, given the opportunity, someone tell him.
UPDATE: Ryan Chittum sums it up. It hadn’t occurred to me but yes, having been a reporter for 20 years makes me a lot more aggressive.