One Night of Indigestion for Obama

By now you’ve heard that Obama risked indigestion just days before his inauguration to reach out to the other side.

Barack Obama took the next big step in his Republican charm offensive on Tuesday night, when he dined with several of the nation’s most prominent conservative pundits.

The president-elect arrived at the Chevy Chase, Md., home of syndicated columnist George Will shortly after 6:30 p.m., according to a press pool report. Greeting him at the residence were other luminaries of the conservative commentariat, including the Weekly Standard’s William Kristol, New York Times columnist David Brooks, and Charles Krauthammer of the Washington Post.

Just two comments about this. First, remember that two out of three of these men sort-of endorsed Obama as the election came to a close (indeed Brooks was a fan from early on). Here’s Brooks, enthusing over Obama’s self-efficacy in October.

But other candidates are propelled by what some psychologists call self-efficacy, the placid assumption that they can handle whatever the future throws at them. Candidates in this mold, most heroically F.D.R. and Ronald Reagan, are driven upward by a desire to realize some capacity in their nature. They rise with an unshakable serenity that is inexplicable to their critics and infuriating to their foes.

Obama has the biography of the first group but the personality of the second. He grew up with an absent father and a peripatetic mother. “I learned long ago to distrust my childhood,” he wrote in “Dreams From My Father.” This is supposed to produce a politician with gaping personal needs and hidden wounds.

But over the past two years, Obama has never shown evidence of that. Instead, he has shown the same untroubled self-confidence day after day.

Here’s Will, attacking the Republican ticket’s shared inability to think with complexity, in October.

Palin may be an inveterate simplifier; McCain has a history of reducing controversies to cartoons. A Republican financial expert recalls attending a dinner with McCain for the purpose of discussing with him domestic and international financial complexities that clearly did not fascinate the senator. As the dinner ended, McCain’s question for his briefer was: "So, who is the villain?"

McCain revived a familiar villain — "huge amounts" of political money — when Barack Obama announced that he had received contributions of $150 million in September. "The dam is broken," said McCain, whose constitutional carelessness involves wanting to multiply impediments to people who want to participate in politics by contributing to candidates — people such as the 632,000 first-time givers to Obama in September.

Why is it virtuous to erect a dam of laws to impede the flow of contributions by which citizens exercise their First Amendment right to political expression? "We’re now going to see," McCain warned, "huge amounts of money coming into political campaigns, and we know history tells us that always leads to scandal." The supposedly inevitable scandal, which supposedly justifies preemptive government restrictions on Americans’ freedom to fund the dissemination of political ideas they favor, presumably is that Obama will be pressured to give favors to his September givers. The contributions by the new givers that month averaged $86.

Given that Kristol played Higgins to Palin’s Eliza Doolittle, he couldn’t very well endorse Obama. But in November, he tried to repackage Obama’s foreign policy as a continuation of Bush’s foreign policy.

Second, remember that all three of these men–and especially Kristol and Brooks–are paid propagandists. If, for the sake of one night of indigestion, he can neutralize propagandists that the Noise Machine has invested a lot of money in, all the better.

 I wouldn’t want to do it. But if Obama’s got the intestinal fortitude to dine with these three, more power to him.

  1. plunger says:

    in breaking purported news:

    P R O P A G A N D A


    A new audio message purportedly from the al-Qaida leader, Osama bin Laden, has called for all Muslims to launch a holy war to stop the Israeli offensive in Gaza, according to Islamist websites.

    The recording, which the websites said was by Bin Laden, also condemned Arab governments for preventing their people from acting to “liberate Palestine”.…..-gaza-tape

    100% bullshit – guaranteed.

    The man does not exist.

  2. klynn says:

    Two words for the propagandists: kiss ups.

    Obama knows this. I wonder if they all play poker? What am I thinking, of course they did. Now whether it included a deck of cards? Who knows.

  3. wavpeac says:

    watched George and Laura last night on Larry King…talk about indigestion!!

    They really enjoyed reminding us of the FEAR right after 9/11 and how upsetting a time it was. (when asked if bushie every lost sleep…only after 9/11 was he really worried…as was Laura, you know?).

    Two murderers sitting and facing the camera…two big giant defense mechanisms for human beings.

    I am a cynic about Obama…he will need to prove himself to me, but if I were going to give him credit…it would be on this strategy. I think that if he goes after bushco after he is out of office, he will need to have been very credible in his stance of bipartisanship. He also would need to continue to make statements that do not tip off bigger energy to defend as bushco leaves. If I were him, and I had plans to set the law straight, this is likely the way I would go about it. He needs to be able to convince them not that he is right in going after Bush but that he does so for the “right” reasons.

    We’ll see.

  4. readerOfTeaLeaves says:

    Obama’s eaten snake in Indonesia, who-knows-what in Kenya, and grew up in the 60s and 70s – with far fewer financial resources than GWBush.

    Obama’s maybe more like people that I like, respect, and enjoy — one night seeing something a bit out of the ordinary, and stretching the envelope of experience, can be a good thing.

    His guests should heartily count their blessings.
    I certainly will.

    This single act is more than Bush, Cheney, Libby, Addington, Cambone, Perle, Wolfowitz, Feith, etc, etc managed in the past 20 years as near as I can tell.

    And also, as near as I can tell, Obama’s simply doing what thousands of Peace Corps volunteers did in the 60s – meet people with different experiences and find some common ground, even if it’s only the size of a postage stamp.


  5. brendanx says:

    Much as I enjoyed Will’s savaging of McCain during the campaign, and his regard for Obama, it disturbs me that Obama thinks these scriveners are worth his time, because they’re not. There’s a gross disproportion of scale between what Obama has to accomplish and the stature of these lackeys. Besides that, they’re just enemies of his presidency and it hardly matters whether they’re killing him with kindness or with poison.

  6. brendanx says:

    Krauthammer paid him praise, too, citing “temperament” as a near-disqualifying deficiency of McCain and a corresponding strength of Obama’s. But, of course, he didn’t finally endorse him, as zeal in killing Arabs trumps political aplomb.

  7. Hmmm says:

    It was a smart move. He’s keeping his potential thought-leader enemies (yes yes, with the combined brains of a fruitfly don’t you know) close. Nobody, not even these guys, takes crossing a Prez lightly.

  8. gmoke says:

    I’ve seen Kristol up close and it’s not pretty. The man is shaped like a potato and comes across as bored with most things. He is self-deprecating, to blunt criticism, but not nearly enough nor for the right reasons.

    I’m glad Obama met with these ghouls just so that he can take their measure once and for all.

    Will, of course, is a liar and a shill.