Obama-era mysteries

Politico and its anonymous White House friends spit insults at supporters that are pure contradictions

Published July 16, 2010 11:17AM (EDT)

(updated below - Update II - Update III)

John Harris and Jim VandeHei yesterday wrote a long, prototypical Politico article packed full of the trite, adolescent features that make it the lowly D.C. gossip rag it is:   quoting anonymous White House functionaries sniping at the Left, petulant attacks on Unserious bloggers, obsessions with substance-free, trivial horse-race chatter, etc. etc.  I don't want to give the article much attention, both because it's plainly designed to provoke anger and links, and because Digby already wrote the definitive response, far better than what that article deserved.  In doing so, she happened to produce one of the best political analyses of the Obama administration that has yet been written; I recommend it highly.  But there are two passages from the Politico article I want to juxtapose because doing so demonstrates one of the great mysteries of the Obama era.  First is this:

Obama sees himself as a different kind of Democrat, one who transcends ideology but is basically a centrist. By some measures, his self-image fits. His war and antiterrorism policies are remarkably similar to those advocated by the man he blames for most of the country's problems: George W. Bush.

Then there's this:

[A]n elite group of commentators on the left -- many of whom are unhappy with him and are rewarded with more attention by being critical of a fellow Democrat -- has a disproportionate influence on perceptions. The liberal blogosphere grew in response to Bush.  But it is still a movement marked by immaturity and impetuousness -- unaccustomed to its own side holding power and the responsibilities and choices that come with that. . . . In private conversations, White House officials are contemptuous of what they see as liberal lamentations unhinged from historical context or contemporary political realities.  

Perhaps one day it will dawn on Politico and their anonymous White House friends how the realities in the first passage completely negate the petulant, clichéd, Iraq-War-era insults in the second (and that's to say nothing of the domestic policy critique Digby articulates).  What's the true manifestation of "immaturity" and "impetuousness":  after having spent years screaming that Bush's "war and antiterrorism policies" are evil, tyrannical and a shredding of the Constitution (as virtually every Democrat, or at least progressive, did), to watch many of those same policies be embraced and in some instances even expanded by Obama and then (a) meekly acquiesce or even cheer because it's someone from a different party doing it, or (b) object just as vociferously as when a Republican President did it?  It's a real tribute to the empty-minded shallowness of Politico and those in the White House (and their supporters) who are spitting these insults that they are able to blind themselves to the glaring contradiction between these two passages.


UPDATE:  Here's the immature, impetuous, unSerious Simon Johnson, MIT Economics Professor and former Chief Economist for the IMF, detailing the political and policy disaster known as "Tim Geithner," whose latest move is to oppose the appointment of Elizabeth Warren -- the individual who has demonstrated more wisdom, prescience and integrity on economic issues than almost anyone in Washington -- as Chair of the new Consumer Protection Agency (an agency she conceived), on the ground that she's insufficiently friendly to Wall Street (h/t Atrios).  It takes real purist immaturity to critique Obama's Treasury Secretary and point out the central role he's played in the nation's economic woes.


UPDATE II:  Simon Johnson's criticisms of Geithner linked in the above update are well worth reading, but his claim that Geithner opposes the appointment of Elizabeth Warren (first reported by The Huffington Post) is one which a Geithner aide now emphatically denies.


UPDATE III:  Regarding the Geithner/Warren story, here's an email I received from the reporter at The Huffington Post who first reported that Geithner opposes Warren's appointment, Shahien Nasiripou:

I just read your post "Obama-era mysteries" in which you mention Geithner, Warren and my story on the controversy. Specifically, you write: "but his claim that Geithner opposes the appointment of Elizabeth Warren (first reported by The Huffington Post) is one which a Geithner aide now emphatically denies." I just want to point out that Geithner's aide, Michael Barr, never refuted the story. Not once.

He, along with Geithner spokesman Andrew Williams and David Axelrod, simply told reporters that she was "exceptionally well-qualified" (or some variation on that) but never once did anyone refute the story. Their responses have been non-denial denials.  Saying someone is qualified doesn't mean you support his/her appointment.

He's right about that.  Several readers have made the same point:  that the Geithner aide quoted in the above-linked post nor other Obama officials have denied the story that Geithner opposes Warren.  Kevin Drum has a good post about why the appointment of Warren to this position would be so significant.

By Glenn Greenwald

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