Saturday, October 24, 2009


Bill O'Reilly's day as White House chief of staff.


MK said...

Interesting column! Also interesting, the reactions of the posters.

The thing O'Reilly overlooks is how the different moving parts mesh in Washington, not just the branches of government, but lobbyists and special interest groups and, of course, voters. Initiatives that once seemed difficult to pass sometimes take on new life because of public opinion or unexpected events. (I'm now reading Nick Kotz's Judgment Days: Lyndon Baines Johnson, Martin Luther King Jr., and The Laws that Changed America. It's clear that LBJ seized on shifts in public mood after November 22, 1963 to push for more robust civil rights legislation than JFK would have envisioned passing.)

BTW, did you see that the story about Fox being excluded from a press availability apparently played out differently than presented? TPMDC reports that

"Feinberg did a pen and pad with reporters to brief them on cutting executive compensation. TV correspondents, as they do with everything, asked to get the comments on camera. Treasury officials agreed and made a list of the networks who asked (Fox was not among them).

But logistically, all of the cameras could not get set up in time or with ease for the Feinberg interview, so they opted for a round robin where the networks use one pool camera. Treasury called the White House pool crew and gave them the list of the networks who'd asked for the interview.

The network pool crew noticed Fox wasn't on the list, was told that they hadn't asked and the crew said they needed to be included. Treasury called the White House and asked top Obama adviser Anita Dunn. Dunn said yes and Fox's Major Garrett was among the correspondents to interview Feinberg last night."

Not so "Nixonian," LOL.

Fr. John said...

Thanks, MK. Always the facts and nuances with you! But what would columnists, pundits, and bloggers do without pat accounts of complex events? As for O'Reilly, I have the distinct impression that he likes Obama and and also that he has delusions of grandeur which lead him to think that the President is operating under misapprehensions of which O'Reilly could disabuse him if he'd only listen.

MK said...

Always the facts and nuance, that one had me really LOL!

I give O'Reilly credit for having Obama on his show during the Presidential campaign and Obama credit for agreeing to appear on it.

But the O'Reily piece does raise one interesting question. I think every White House needs to have people on staff who not only follow and know what the other side is saying but understand the nuances and the things that stir people up. Like any institution, the WH can become awfully insular. Some of the silly flaps that every administration seems to get into could be avoided. There's a need for people with good antenna and understanding, even sympathy for, how voters across a broad spectrum might react to things. They might recognize some of the little pitfalls and prevent them (such as not calling a health care reform query account set up by the WH "fishy," which led some alarmists to assume the administration was phishing for email addresses -- enemies list alert! -- and personal info on opponents. They never should have set up an email account for that, the later move to a web interface with no email tracking was much better in terms of optics). Some people familiar with the other side, such as O'Reilly, also might help explain in a more neutral or even benign way than a hostile political operative might what motivates voters across the spectrum.