Yesterday, President Obama met at the White House with far-left bloggers in an effort to assuage their disappointment in his first two years in office and rally them to gin up liberal voting enthusiasm. (Oliver Willis was one of the invited guests and has a transcript of the event at his blog.)
Reflecting upon the historic occasion of having a few pixel-stained wretches admitted into the elite White House–sanctioned club of certified opinion shapers, Ed Morrissey, of the crisp, right-wing Hot Air and The Ed Morrissey Show, posed a question on Twitter:
In response, many (if not most, including Ed) said, of course they should. Mainly due to simply being respectful to the nation’s leader. I said:
Perhaps I violated the “kidding aside” rule, but my answer was only in half jest. I’m just not experienced enough with Twitter articulation to cram all the rationales and angles into 140 characters.
The first half of my response (“no, it would be a ploy to round them up”) is not a joke. The second half (“and ship them to unclosed Gitmo”) is merely hyperbole.
Let me explain, because it affects all “enemy” relations with the White House during the next two years.
When Obama summons a few of the leading griping but still fawning grunts of his Transformational Revolutionary Army to the White House, it’s all upside for them.
- They’ve been elevated to major player status.
- They get a photo souvenir that will hang proudly on their wall for their remaining lifetime.
- They get to nip at the President’s ankles, and he’ll tolerate them briefly because they’re on his team and he knows his fixer will be coming to take them out for a walk in a few minutes.
- Their ink-stained brethren now have to quote them instead of vice versa.
When he summons his “enemies” to the White House, it’s not going to be so pleasant. There’s not much benefit:
- They’ve been elevated to major player played status. (Just ask the GOP congressmen that attended his economic summit. What a useless exercise. Obama’s ears were plugged throughout. The only thing that gave the Republicans any dignity was having cameras in the room to show Rep. Paul Ryan’s great beat back of Obama’s talking points—although boredom had lulled most viewers to sleep by then.) There won’t be any video of this jeer summit, so they’re on their own there.
- They get a photo souvenir that will hang proudly on their wall for their remaining lifetime fade and turn yellow—but is the only thing the White House is interested in getting out of the afternoon: Photographic evidence of the Great One’s bipartisan efforts to be pointed to repeatedly until 2012 when it won’t matter anymore, one way or another.
- They get to nip at the President’s ankles, and he’ll tolerate them briefly because they’re on his team and he knows his fixer will be coming to take them out for a walk in a few minutes he’s good at running out the limited clock with long-winded, heard-it-all-before-and-refuted-it-six-different-ways talking points.
- Their ink-stained brethren now have to quote them instead of vice versa—except there’s not many right-reporting brethren to write about it, so most of the mainstream media will be quoting from the White House talking points anyway, not quoting these fringe-extremist-kook bloggers that got brought in like circus animals.
He would get the chance to look magnanimous for deigning to be in the presence of people whom he holds in utter contempt. He is a man that has shown a propensity for holding grudges. He wouldn’t be looking for a Kumbaya moment; he’d be looking for revenge. Do you think he’s forgotten that these bloggers helped repeatedly motivate citizens from around the land to show up in huge numbers for opposition rally after opposition rally—often on short notice, sometimes on weekdays—which he claims to have not even noticed? Do you think he has forgiven these bloggers for being the people that helped inform the populace and drove the impassioned citizenry to town hall meetings across the country last summer to shout “Stop!” to their deaf representatives and put a few dents in the Great One’s legacy plans?
It would be delusional to think any right-wing words would get through to him any more than bullets could get past Wonder Woman’s cuffs. His whole goal would be to fix a target, paralyze it, eliminate it. A respectful exchange requires respect on both sides. You can’t walk in the door trying to be gracious and honoring his position while he’s looking for any opportunity to strip you of your dignity and squash you like a fly landing on his welcoming arm.
Remember, this is a President that has, unprecedentedly, taken to regularly attacking private citizens, media outlets and companies from the bully pulpit—issuing veiled and actual threats to bring the full weight of the US government down on them if they don’t behave the way he wants.
Attempting to destroy one small blogger at a time, however, would be hard to spin positively in the press. The public has not been too worried about attacks on Rush Limbaugh—unfortunately, because it’s an abuse of power that any free citizen should recoil at—because they think he can take care of himself. Michelle Malkin is a different story. She may be well-known to active, right-wing newshounds and Fox News watchers, but for all her best-selling books and television appearances, few beyond her (large) niche audience would know who she is. If the White House couldn’t successfully demonize John Boehner, the House minority leader, how would they look going after some attractive, well-spoken unknown lady? And AceOfSpadesHQ? That’s getting pretty deep into the right-wing blogosphere. If the White House were to take him on alone, the resounding question around the country would be: “Who?” (Sorry, Ace.)
If like-minded bloggers are invited as a representative group, however, then you have a better attack target. One blogger’s quotes can now be applied to the whole group of them. One blogger’s “extreme” position gets slathered across all of them. So the call goes out to round up a representative group, put them in a barrel and start shooting.
It doesn’t really matter what form the shooting takes, be it slanders in the media, net neutrality legislation, IRS audits or shipping the lot of them to Gitmo. The objective would be to silence these voices, or at least neuter them, through denigration, disrespect and disregard if they can’t be co-opted with charm and coercion.
And the GOPers in Congress are going to be in the same position: should they dutifully go to the White House whenever Obama wants to have a little PR fun? They won’t get much better treatment than any right-wing blogger would. The benefits of the exercise will be entirely one-sided.
I’m hoping they will find a spine and some principles, but I have little faith that they will. It is going to take strong principled opposition to begin rolling back the first half of Obama I, and prevent Obama II.
And the same goes for the various captains of industry and their representative groups. It’s been endlessly dismaying to watch them get sucker-punched again and again. If you go to a meeting with the Three Stooges, you know there’s going to be eye-poking, head-slapping and general inanity. Quit expecting a negotiation with anti-capitalists to be a dignified interaction on a level playing field. You are going to come out of there looking like a fool, and having forfeited something precious and essential to your existence.
For instance, how’d that BP meeting with the White House go? They loyally answered the President’s call, thinking they could get some good (or at least less damaging) PR out of it and get the President to quit daily clubbing them for his own polling purposes. In the end, they got unconstitutionally strong-armed in “voluntarily” tossing $20 billion out of a helicopter hovering over the Gulf Coast—and the President continued to club them on all fronts till the media grew tired of the story and had a different shiny object catch their eye. It was comparable to this classic TV PR disaster:
If I called you over to my house to smack you, would you come? You wouldn’t? Yes, he’s the President of the United States and I’m not, but as he views half of the U.S. as “enemies” and takes his citizens to court when they oppose him, he’s only serving as the President of the Radical Left-Wing. Perhaps the GOP takeover of Congress will cause him to wake up and suddenly have empathy for the right-wing and become post-partisan. But I think I have better odds of winning both Powerball and MegaMillions than seeing that happen.
Until it does, I’d be polite in my RSVP, and like when Obama bailed on a “$7,500 dinner with the President” in Rhode Island recently, I’d tell him I’ve got to go home and pet the cat and scoop the poop instead.
Then I’d blog about it, using my 15 minutes of fame to get all the benefits the far-left bloggers got, except for the lousy photo I don’t want anyway.