Saturday, September 25, 2010

Mr. Wonderful Spurned Us Again

There is so much about Greg Sargent's account of a conference call between the Obama Administration's spokesperson David Axelrod and some progressive bloggers that epitomizes the relationship between Democratic Party leaders and progressives these days:
"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "We're the girl you'll take under the bleachers but you won't be seen with in the light of day."

Axelrod didn't engage on "hippie punching," but he said he agreed with the blogger. "To the extent that we shouldn't get involved in intramural skirmishing, I couldn't agree more," Axelrod said. "We just can't afford that. There are big things at stake here."

Madrak replied that Axelrod was missing the point -- that the criticism of the left made it tougher for bloggers like herself to motivate the base. "Don't make our jobs harder," she said.

"Right back at'cha. Right back at'cha," Axelrod replied, a bit testily, an apparent reference to blogospheric criticism of the administration.

Liberal Blogger Directly Confronts David Axelrod, Accuses White House Of "Hippie Punching"
You know, this lament just screams out for some sappy country music. Cue the Dixie Chicks:

There, that's better.

The first rather obvious conclusion is that the Obama Administration clearly is not really interested in communicating with progressives. Of course, many have realized this for a long time. Any communication has been about what progressives can do for the Obama Administration, not the other way around. In that context, Axelrod's response was clearly more of the same.

The second is that the Obama Administration clearly doesn't expect criticism from its friends. That's not what real friendship is, because friends never agree on everything, for one thing, and it's sometimes the role of a friend to give someone the bad news about what he's done to himself. The Obama Administration doesn't want progressives to be their friends. They want us to be their bitches.

Which brings us to the final point - how interesting Madrak's metaphor of the girl who lets herself be taken under the bleachers is in this context. That sort of thing strikes me as OK, as long as it's clearly understood that it's a quickie and that's all it's going to be (though the expression "no glove, no love" comes to mind.) But when Mr. Wonderful comes around later asking to borrow $50, and oh, yeah, maybe he can squeeze you into his schedule next week while the Homecoming Queen is out of town, then you have a decision to make. You can either say "Sure baby, whatever you want", or you can tell the asshole that if he wants $50 then he can mow your lawn for the next few weeks, and don't forget to trim around the roses. People with their self-respect intact tend toward the latter response.

And therein lies the progressives' problem. No one at that conference call stood up and said "if you want our help, you will accomplish ..", and then went on to listing some things that Obama promised to do during the campaign but hasn't yet lifted a finger on. They just acted like they wanted to please, but didn't quite think they were up to the job.

Which, I suppose, is among the reasons they're all on the A list of bloggers and I can't average 100 visits a day. Clearly, I don't understand how that big time political stuff works.

When progressives have enough self-respect to tell Mr. Wonderful to do something useful or take his act elsewhere, progressives will finally have real power. At this rate, I think that day will come about the same time that Satan is bobsledding to the office.

Yes, I've written this before, lots of times. It's pretty clear that none of those A listers has been paying attention. So, I'll make this simple, because they clearly are really busy people: If you're not willing to stand up for yourself, then you're not going to get jack from people like Barack Obama.

So, try to fit a little bit of self-respect into your schedule.

UPDATE: I forgot to mention that Wonk The Vote had a good idea, too: If you don’t want to be punched, don’t vote for a hippie-puncher. It's like the old joke goes "Doctor, it hurts when I do this." "Then don't do that."

Sometimes, life really is pretty simple.

UPDATE 2 (Sep. 26): Susie Madrak left a response over at the FireDogLake diary version of this article.

What it leads me to say is that I should have made clear that it's at least good that someone was willing to speak up there, and Susie was, I suspect, the only one who did. Note the sentence reads "No one at that conference call stood up and said...", not that it was Ms. Madrak's fault for not being more clear. This is a general problem, not one of a specific blogger. Unfortunately, we tend to get caught up in personalities, particularly when those personalities have done something difficult, and then see those actions criticized. In this case, that wasn't my intention. I thought that was clear, but apparently to at least some folks it wasn't.


lawguy said...

Drifting in several days late on this. I read No More Mister Nice Blog which linked to Rumproast and went over there to see the comments.

Wow. Essentially, the comments were you (meaning me, since I commented there and Susie) are assholes, Obama is the best there can be you demand too much, nothing else can be done. Get out and vote and quit complaining.

I'm thinking: you should take these crumbs from the rich man's table and be happy. Was the general attitude.

Although, I'm wondering if Obama is so wonderful where all the voters went.

Cujo359 said...

As I clearly stated eventually, this isn't a fault of Madrak's in particular. Cripes, the woman at least spoke out. This really is about the rest of us, and our seeming desire to be the victims.

I don't know who the particular people are who are calling us all assholes (I would certainly be included in that category, given that I hoped for more out of those bloggers than we got), but they don't have any reasonable explanation for why it's so much harder for Democrats than Republicans to effect the changes they want.

In short, they're idiots, but they vote. I have to laugh when people disparage the smarts of conservative voters. We really don't have much to brag about in that regard.