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Hullabaloo


Sunday, January 30, 2011

 
With Friends Like These

by digby


Howard Fineman has the unique capability of making people seem like even bigger assholes than they already are by damning them with his approbation. I'm sure you'll all recall his famous encomium to Bush:

FINEMAN (11/27/01): So who are the Bushes, really? Well, they’re the people who produced the fellow who sat with me and my Newsweek colleague, Martha Brant, for his first interview since 9/11. We saw, among other things, a leader who is utterly comfortable in his role. Bush envelops himself in the trappings of office. Maybe that’s because he’s seen it from the inside since his dad served as Reagan’s vice president in the ‘80s. The presidency is a family business.

Dubyah loves to wear the uniform—whatever the correct one happens to be for a particular moment. I counted no fewer than four changes of attire during the day trip we took to Fort Campbell in Kentucky and back. He arrived for our interview in a dark blue Air Force One flight jacket. When he greeted the members of Congress on board, he wore an open-necked shirt. When he had lunch with the troops, he wore a blue blazer. And when he addressed the troops, it was in the flight jacket of the 101st Airborne. He’s a boomer product of the ‘60s—but doesn’t mind ermine robes.


So what he up to now? Well, get a load of this piece about Obama:


Among his other attributes, Jay Carney is a cool dancer. I know that because I saw him and his wife, Claire Shipman, getting down on the tented dance floor of a fancy Georgetown wedding years ago. Jay Carney, who went to Yale and was a foreign correspondent in Moscow, is -- besides being smart, savvy, loyal and well-connected with the right sort -- suave.

Why bring this up? Because by choosing him as his new press secretary, President Barack Obama has completed his swift and thorough transition from crusading outsider to shrewd insider as he prepares to deal with the wild folk of the Tea Party, Karl Rove and the Republican kneecappers, and an electorate still fearful that the world is spinning out of control.

Say this about Obama: He is adaptable, he is a survivor and he has a supreme desire to win.

He is setting up his reelection campaign back in Chicago, but that is an expensive piece of window dressing unlikely to convince people that he is somehow still, if he ever was, a guy from the heartland. David Axelrod and the gang will be back in the Windy City, but the operation will be run by a Chicagoan-cum-Washingtonian with national and even global ties -- Bill Daley -- and a cadre of the best and the brightest of the Clinton administration who came to the city to do good and stayed to do well.

Obama came to the White House in the manner of Jimmy Carter, with whom he was, early on, mistakenly compared. But while Carter never expanded his circle beyond the "Georgians," Obama has, with stunning swiftness, retooled his administration to play hardball in the D.C. League.


I'm sure the President's Villager status is greatly satisfying to the likes of Fineman. I'm not so sure that Obama's political handlers would be so pleased to see him publicly extolled as such. "Insiders" aren't quite as revered in the rest of the country. In fact, it's the last thing most politicians would ever want, particularly now.

I'm not sure what "narrative" they think they're selling, but this isn't a good one:

Axelrod believes that a campaign is a "narrative." Carney, who wrote and reported plenty of cover stories for Time, knows all about the craft and the power of narratives -- and, presumably, will be more willing to spin them out in public than the cautious Gibbs seemed to be.

There are few better-connected couples in the Washington media and social scene than Carney and Shipman. Their children attend the Sidwell Friends School with the Obama girls. They are the kind of well-liked, Ivy-credentialed insiders who make the Tea Party boiling mad. But why should Obama care?

Gibbs, meanwhile, will go out on his own, where he can go on the soundbite attack, but do it from the aw-shucks stance of a guy who comes from the part of the country where people tend to cling to their guns and their religion.

Gibbs, the son of teachers at Auburn University, liked to celebrate Auburn football victories by wrapping White House trees in toilet paper. I could be wrong, but I don't think Jay has done or will do that for a victory over Harvard.


I'm about as far from the Tea party as you can get and I live in one of the most Democratic cities in the country. And that just about made me hurl.

Everything that's wrong with politics is in that one passage.



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