Barack Obama

Obama's Pet Columnists

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Look who's coming to dinner! |||

Politico has an article out about President Barack Obama's increasingly frequent off-the-record White House meetings with various opinion journalists and columnists. Here are some named names:

Participants vary depending on the issue of the day, but there are regulars. [David] Brooks, the New York Times columnist, is a frequent guest, as is Joe Klein of Time Magazine. From The Washington Post: E.J. Dionne, Eugene Robinson, Ezra Klein and Fred Hiatt, the editorial page editor. On foreign policy: the Post's David Ignatius, Bloomberg View's Jeffrey Goldberg, and the Times' Thomas Friedman. He also holds the occasional meeting with conservatives. This month, he met with Washington Post columnist and Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer, Wall Street Journal editorial page editor Paul Gigot, and other influential representatives from the right.

Also named are New York magazine columnist Jonathan Chait and NBC News Political Director Chuck Todd. No, Reason hasn't been invited. Sniff.

More details:

He also likes talking to the people he likes to read. The president is a voracious consumer of opinion journalism. Most nights, before going to bed, he'll surf the Internet, reading the columnists whose opinions he values. One of the great privileges of the presidency is that, when so inclined, he can invite these columnists to his home for meetings that can last as long as two-and-a-half hours.

Especially when you're wrong. |||

"It's not an accident who he invites: He reads the people that he thinks matter, and he really likes engaging those people," said one reporter with knowledge of the meetings. "He reads people carefully — he has a columnist mentality — and he wants to win columnists over," said another.

These anonymous quotes from the journalists invited to these off-the-record bull sessions are kind of hilarious.

Sometimes, the aide will then reach out to the columnist to ask his or her opinion, which has had the unintended effect of spurring the columnist to write a piece expressing his thoughts on that very issue.

"It's like, 'The president wants to know what you think about 'x.' So you go, 'I guess I better figure out what I think about 'x,'" one columnist explained. […]

Said a columnist who has attended multiple meetings, "When you can write your column with absolute surety, knowing that what you're saying is a true reflection of what the President of the United States is thinking, how do you not do that?"

Read the whole emetic here.

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  1. It’s a virtual who’s who of people with no credibility.

    1. Or knowledge, information, or brains.

      1. And yet, I was still snubbed. 🙁

  2. One of the great privileges of the presidency is that, when so inclined, he can invite these columnists to his home for meetings that can last as long as two-and-a-half hours.

    Maybe it would have been more productive if he’d had two and a half hour meetings with people working on the websites than people who write for a living.

    1. people who “write” for a living

    2. The funny part is that the prez seems to think these clowns are opinion shapers. Everyone who reads them either already agrees or is going there for a good laugh.

  3. David (Fucking) Brooks. No wonder.

    1. David Brooks needs to eat my shit.

      That is all.

      1. I’d call it social paternalism. Most of us behave somewhat decently because we are surrounded by social norms and judgments that make it simpler for us to be good. To some gentle extent, government policy should embody those norms, a preference for saving over consumption, a preference for fitness over obesity, a preference for seat belts and motorcycle helmets even though some people think it’s cooler not to wear them. In some cases, there could be opt-out provisions.

        These days, we have more to fear from a tattered social fabric than from a suffocatingly tight one. Some modest paternalism might be just what we need.

        The conservative commentator on NPR endorses Cass Sunnstein

        1. we have more to fear from a tattered social fabric than from a suffocatingly tight one.

          Again with the “social fabric”. I have no idea what this statement is supposed to mean.

          1. His metaphor doesn’t work very well since a tattered fabric would be easier to breathe through.

            What a fucking idiot.

            1. Speaking of enforcing social norms with nuges: a sheet with eyeholes is technically a fabric, right?

            2. Nice to both of y’all.

        2. NPR’s definition of a conservative relates only to priorities. A conservative is a political hack who prefers to gut the 5th Amendment before he guts the 2nd. An enlightened liberal understands that gutting the 2nd is just common sense and will make gutting the 5th fait accompli.

        3. To be fair, I don’t think paternalism is at all inconsistent with conservatism.

  4. So he’s desparate for approval. Shocker. Maybe someday he can write a book about his absentee father.

    1. Where’s Thomas Sowell on that list? That would be a conversation I would love to hear.

      1. Haven’t you heard? He’s associated with the Tea Party, so he’s ipso facto an evil white racist.

      2. Obama is sure that Uncle Tom Sowell be workin’ on the plantation, servin’ up mint juleps to massah.

        He thinks that way of all genuinely intellectual, non-progressive black people. Barack Obama’s intellectual capacity, narcissistic personality, and visceral loathing of his opponents are such that he would be incapable of intelligent conversation with Thomas Sowell.

  5. Al Hunt haz a sad.

  6. Said a columnist who has attended multiple meetings, “When you can write your column with absolute surety, knowing that what you’re saying is a true reflection of what the President of the United States is thinking, how do you not do that?”

    THIS IS NOT YOUR FUCKING JOB YOU SHITSTAIN!

    1. how do you not do that?

      Very easily – just say no. When people kiss up to me, my first thought is “What the hell do they want from me? And why should I help them?”

    2. That’s still more evidence (as though it were needed) that the legacy media have abdicated their role as watchdogs and have become lapdogs.

    3. “how do you not do that?”

      Oh, I don’t know….how about having a little self-respect and remembering how committed you were to “Speaking TRUTH to Power” in journalism school.

    4. “Said a columnist who has attended multiple meetings, “When you can write your column with absolute surety, knowing that what you’re saying is a true reflection of what the President of the United States is thinking, how do you not do that?””

      This is the same sort of logic which has public unions ‘negotiating’ with those who were elected because the unions backed them.
      Mutual back-scratching, and no one sees any problem.

  7. He also likes talking to the people he likes to read.

    If by “people he likes to read’ you mean “people who love to hear him talk, and transcribe his poetic wisdom for the humble adoring masses”.

    1. Bingo. As if this arrogant prick cares about dissenting opinion.

    2. If he likes to read Brooks and Friedman then he has a serious cognitive impairment. Brooks and Friedman are for wannabe intellectuals who lack two brain cells to rub together.

    3. It’s not an echo chamber when the right people are in it.

    4. “He also likes talking to the people he likes to read.”

      Sort of like reading the notes and memos you dictated; aren’t they just *wonderful*?

  8. so does he read columns to figure out what he should do or for affirmation that he did the right thing? Good night; I get reading what people are saying but this sounds more like reading becuase he has no belief system of his own. Or at least, no ability to come up with a plan for what he would like to do beyond talking about some grand goal.

    1. He reads columns to predict which of the columnists will adequately hump his leg, and those are the ones he invites.

  9. Media bum kissing? SAY IT AIN’T SO.

  10. Most nights, before going to bed, he’ll surf the Internet, reading the columnists whose opinions he values.

    For one brief, fleeting, glorious instant, I imagined him lurking in the HnR comment threads.

    I fear he does not value my opinions, unfortunately. I would be pleased to offer them, gratis, if you’re reading this, Fuckface.

    1. For one brief, fleeting, glorious instant, I imagined him lurking in the HnR comment threads.

      Well, has anyone seen Choney and Barack Obama in the same room at the same time?

    2. Maybe he trolls here, even. I mean, he seems to have more time than even frequent golf rounds and televised basketball could fill up.

    3. Do you think He posts here?

  11. Chuckles the clown does a great juggling act. Where’s the snarky paperboy Rachel Maddow? Her route goes right past the Black House!

  12. What kind of special preparations do you think the White House staff had to make for Ezra Klein’s visit? Did they just put a box of kleenex by his chair, or did they actually put a tarp over the furniture? Did he offer to clean up after himself, even knowing that cleaning products are as mysterious as Netflix envelopes? Or was he too overcome with emotion and dehydration to even make that small courtesy? Did he bring his own change of pants or did the White House have one prepared for him?

    The logistics of that kind of preparation are staggering.

    1. Klein is easy. He is house trained and can usually respond to social cues. Now Yglesias on the other hand…

      The Secret Service doesn’t like to talk about the little gift he left behind in the closet of the Lincoln bedroom or dining room chair that had to be replaced.

  13. What, Chris “Tingly-Leg” Matthews is not on the list or does he get private audiences with his messiah?

    1. I think even Barry considers him to be a liability.

      1. Matthews can only give Obama fellatio on live television so many times before people start wondering if he’s biased.

  14. and other influential representatives from the right.

    A. I like how David Brooks isn’t even nominally a member of that group anymore.

    B. Surprised the KrautHammer gets invited considering how anti-Obama he is.

    1. B. Surprised the KrautHammer gets invited considering how anti-Obama he is.

      They do it just so they can get a shot of Obama looking concerned at some guy in a wheelchair.

      Either that or they force him to navigate hallways to narrow for his wheels, just for shits and giggles.

    2. Obama likes to talk with Krauthammer so that he can get a good word for kinetic military operations.

  15. I’d like a copy of that past issue if only to frame it in my foyer. Much more subtle than a plaque reading, “all hope abandon, ye who enter here” warning to my father in law.

  16. Surprised the KrautHammer gets invited considering how anti-Obama he is.

    I’m sure they found some common ground and had a few hearty laughs about murderones and shutting down GITMO.

  17. Talk about an echo chamber!

    Does Obama ever talk to anybody that disagrees with him?

    1. Joe the plumber. You saw how well that ended for Joe.

  18. What Peggy Noonan isn’t on the party list any longer? She has been a bit of a bitch to Barry the last couple years. No soup for YOU, Peggy! Hopefully she’s regained a modest amount of self-respect, though.

    1. The walk of shame home in her evening gown from Obama’s apartment at 8 in the morning was pretty painful though. He wouldn’t even give her cab fair much less a ride home.

    2. And where are the women, anyway? And is it Valerie or Michelle X’ing them off the list?

      I imagine the top of each meeting list starts with the lined out names of SE Cupp, and the various Fox chickadees (Dana Perino et al). And the words ‘Hell No!’ scrawled in the margin.

  19. Forget your politics. How dumb to you have to be to work in politics and government and not know Tom Friedman is an idiot?

    1. Yes, but he is a useful idiot and that is what counts.

    2. Yes Tom Friedman is an idiot. But, I think there’s a whole class of people for whom his status as “announcer of sophisticated consensus” matters a lot more than anything interesting or useful that he has to say. They don’t want to go through the bother of thinking, but they want to be accepted as smart. So, they’ll take cues from Friedman and designate him as smart, hoping that nobody will show that the emperor isn’t wearing much. The fact that he’s not overtly political makes this all the more attractive.

  20. “When you can write your column with absolute surety, knowing that what you’re saying is a true reflection of what the President of the United States is thinking, how do you not do that?”

    They no longer need JournoList to calibrate their talking points – the can get it right from the horse’s ass.

  21. Group Halloween costume idea: someone dresses as Barry O. (you’ll need to get a black friend to do this cause blackface is OUT), and a bunch of people dress as the “journalists” listed here. They wear leashes & collars and the Barry character drags them around all night.

    It would be funny in DC, at least.

    1. It would be. But only if you trick or treated around Eastern Market or Dupont Circle.

      1. I’d imagine in certain neighborhoods that group would be asking for trouble.

        1. From Washington Journalists? Not exactly a physically intimidating crowd. I guess they could call the cops.

      2. It would be funny on Capitol Hill and downtown also (but I don’t think anything happens on Halloween downtown. I don’t think anything except prostitution happens at night in downtown). Last time I went to Hawk & Dove for Halloween, all the costumes were political puns.

  22. “It’s like, ‘The president wants to know what you think about ‘x.’ So you go, ‘I guess I better figure out what I think about ‘x,'” one columnist explained.

    “I better figure out what Valerie Jarrett wants me to think about ‘x.'”

  23. I was just pondering this question earlier this morning: Where is the fucking Mencken of our age?

      1. Just saw Stanhope live in Manchester NH. Our table was front and center. I got mocked for being an old baby boomer.
        Mocked by Doug Stanhope…suck on that bitches.

    1. Well Friedman has Mencken “American’s enemies are being run by Real TOP MEN” attitude down pat.

  24. Ugh, that fucking shitheel Ezra Klein now lives up at the top of the media food chain? Excuse me while I go throw up four or five times.

  25. Mencken was loathed by the powerful and by idiots (but then, I repeat myself.) He was also adored by the literate, by fellow authors, by skeptics, by many of the downtrodden.
    And damn could he write. (And, by all accounts, edit.)
    The man was a god, I tells ya.

    1. Now I’m gonna have to go home and drink solitary toasts to Mencken’s memory all night until I pass out.

    2. He was an asshole. But he could write decent prose and did put many clever thoughts to paper.

      That is the thing about the current crop of political writers. They are so dull and write such horrible prose. In Menken’s time Friedman couldn’t have passed a freshman comp class. Now he writes for the New York Times.

      1. I don’t think Mencken WAS an asshole. In fact, from everything I’ve read, I suspect he was one of the most decent men of his age. And a lot of fun at a drinking/singing party.

        1. I think he was an asshole. As some point cynicism becomes so great that it is just an excuse to think you are smarter than everyone else. And Mencken is an example of that. The guy had one move “everyone in the world but me is a subhuman, depraved retard”. He did the move well and he made a lot of clever and truthful points while making that move. But it was still his only move. And it grates after a while and it doesn’t reflect well on Mencken.

      2. Mencken could entertain, even when he was denouncing poor whites as subhuman, criticizing health-care for people who shouldn’t be able to breed, praising the Germans in WWI, etc.

        1. As a top-notch polemicist, Mencken, at times, denounced everything and everyone, and did it with a spring in his step. And I’ll need a cite on the “shouldn’t be able to breed” thing.
          Mencken had a big heart. True story.

          1. “Such quackeries [as chiropractic] suck in the botched, and help them on to bliss eternal. When these botched fall into the hands of competent medical men they are very likely to be patched up and turned loose upon the world, to beget their kind. But massaged along the backbone to cure their lues [syphylis], they quickly pass into the last stages, and so their pathogenic heritage perishes with them.”

            http://www.chirobase.org/12Hx/mencken.html

            1. That’s the best you got? Sound like he’s not saying they shouldn’t breed, but rather that if they give themselves into the hands of quacks, they probably won’t. Natural selection at work.
              You’re not a chiropractor, are you?

            2. “the Johns Hopkins [hospital] is the most brutally anti-social agency ever set up in Baltimore.”

              “The women’s clinic delivers about 1,400 babies a year in its own studios and about 500 more in the homes of their mothers. Its patients are about evenly divided between whites and blacks. Of the white mothers during a typical year 39.5 per cent. were found to be (I quote) ‘seriously defective and feeble-minded’ and of the colored mothers, 73.6 per cent….

              “Imagine permitting such ghastly caricatures of humanity to reproduce their kind ad libitum, and not only permitting it, but even facilitating it?”

              http://news.google.com/newspap…..69,1805627

              1. “To be sure they are human, and so we must succor them. But how far, precisely, do we propose to go in encouraging them to multiply their kind? How long are we going to endure a raid on the public health, the public security and the public solvency that increases in sweep and boldness every year?”

                1. Note that this is a “quote” from the Montreal Gazette, and also note the quotes from the Johns Hopkins officials in the same story.
                  But I’m also not arguing that Mencken could completely rise above the prejudices of his times. Few do.

                  1. I’ve read the same stuff in *Menckiana* and a university archive. The Gazette wasn’t making this up.

                    And for the jillionth time, you can’t just talk about “the prejudices of his time” because (a) as the editor of his diaries put it, Mencken’s whole appeal was that he supposedly tweaked all the orthodoxies of his time, and (b) the idea that people with bad genes shouldn’t have kids wasn’t a consensus position – many people denied it – not just the Catholics but also the fundamentalists Mencken so derided. The “Civic Biology” textbook in the Scopes trial promoted eugenics. What side was Mencken on in that trial, by the way?

                    So it’s not as if “dude, everyone was doing it.” No, some people were in the front lines fighting against the views of the likes of Mencken.

                    1. You might as well dismiss his anti-lynching columns by saying, “oh, well, *everyone* was against lynching, it’s no big deal!”

        2. I don’t think praising the Germans in WWI is/was any worse than praising the British or the French. I definitely wouldn’t say the Germans were good guys, but they weren’t evil Nazis like they were in WWII. All the major participants of WWI were imperialistic morons who needlessly started a war that left tens of millions dead.

          1. I don’t think praising the Germans in WWI is/was any worse than praising the British or the French.

            Since Mencken is considered a libertarian then why is he gushing over Germany for doing things he hated when done in America? How is that different from Rockwell and Raimondo gushing over Chavez or leftists thinking Obama is better then Bush since he is a Democrat? They all seem to betray the notion that they are not anti-state but anti-Wrong TOP MEN.
            I definitely wouldn’t say the Germans were good guys, but they weren’t evil Nazis like they were in WWII

            Irrelevant since Mencken was writing this stuff during WWI.

            1. I didn’t say he was right to praise Germany, so stop with the fucking strawmen; I simply said it wasn’t the sort of heinous egregious offense Eduard portrays it as. Had Mencken praised Britain or France, he never would have posted that.

              And while Mencken wrote that in WWI, my comment wasn’t irrelevant,Eduard wrote his comment today. My point was that many people today ignorantly assume that Germany was totally evil in WWI like they were in WWII, and while they weren’t “good,” they weren’t as bad (especially relative to their opponents) as people commonly assume.

              1. I have my doubts that Eduard would be fond of the anti-clerical French politicians of that time.

                Also Mencken isn’t being criticized for saying nice things about Imperial Germany or for trying to apply some moral equivalence between Germany and the Allies but for praising Imperial Germany as a land of Real TOP MEN.

      3. That’s the thing. People still read Mencken’s and Don Marquis’ and some of the other columnists of 100 years ago, because they wrote intelligently and had literary merit. Can you imagine anyone bothering to put together an anthology of Amanda Marcotte’s writings? Much less anyone reading it in a hundred years.

        1. I discovered Marquis relatively late. But, damn. The guy was good.

          1. Just try to imagine any of today’s daily columnists regularly putting satirical poetry in their column. Try.

            1. Marquis was also a master of unsentimental poignancy, if there is such a thing.

        2. Someone like Marcotte’s writing is so opaque and so steeped in the current language of academic and political feminists, I bet in a hundred years no one has any idea what the hell she was writing about. If people are reading her, there will be vicious debates among PHD students concerning whether Marcotte was a misogynistic traditional values conservative or a libertine cultural relativist, because no one will have any idea what the hell was talking about.

          1. The one exception I can think of is Christopher Hitchens, because he was such a good stylist that he was fun to read even when he was saying something horrible.

            1. People will read him. And even though people hate her, people will read Coulter. Coulter is funny as hell. She is so insulting and over the top no one now can get past that. But in the future her insults won’t be taken so personally and people will get past that and see how clever a lot of her writing is.

            2. And PJ O’Rourke will be read I bet.

  26. I’d like to learn more about his work editing “The Smart Set.”
    I just discovered that Mencken printed some of Dashiell Hammett’s early stories in the slick literary mag, back when Hammett was still regarded as just a pulp writer.

  27. Mencken was loathed by the powerful and by idiots (but then, I repeat myself.)

    I credit Mencken for giving me a big shove into the nihilistic Abyss which is libertarianism, in my college days.

    His utter disdain for the High and Mighty was a refreshing shock from the daily doses of Wilson-fellating I was subjected to in class.

    1. I credit (or blame) Mencken with steering me into the newspaper biz. I was already a libertarian, but when I discovered Mencken, it was like discovering fire.

      1. Mencken and Jim Thurber — which is, I know, a strange combination. (Although they did meet a time or two.)

        1. Thurber. A True Son of Columbus. Someday CN, you will be regarded as such. Now go write a masterpiece!

          1. Yeah, EDGrLBC. I’ll get right on that.

    2. Wilson-fellating

      That’s because Woodrow Wilson wasn’t a real TOP MAN like Bismarck.

    1. Good on them to test their own ideas like that.

      The thesis seems to be that, if they don’t go around bashing gays and being impolite, but actually seem to be friendly to gay couples, then the next thing they’ll do is have their state recognize SSM. I’d actually like to see this to believe it.

      Mississipi voters banned SSM in 2004 by 86% to 14%. I’m guessing some of the people in that video were on the Yes side. Is it so shocking that people who vote against SSM manage to be friendly to gays?

      At the risk exploding progs’ heads, maybe it really is true that people who vote against SSM don’t actually *hate* gay people! When you hear progs assuming that someone who disagrees with them politically must hate them, I think that says a *lot* more about progs’ political attitudes than those of their opponents.

      1. For their next sociological experiment, they should send a couple black guys to Bloomberg’s New York to act rowdy (but not criminally), and see if they get a friendly reception.

  28. Where is the fucking Mencken of our age?

    Nervously scanning the skies as he scribbles his rabid hateful antisocial screeds with a quill pen.

  29. “The Hunter and Other Stories,” a newly released collection of mostly unpublished Hammett shorts.

    I must seek this out.

  30. Mencken and Jim Thurber — which is, I know, a strange combination.

    Probably my most favorite Thurber story is, If Grant Had Been Drinking at Appomattox.

    “Did you tell President Lincoln I’m an idiot?”

    “No. I thought he knew.”

  31. (if you don’t already own it)

    I think I do. I’ll have to check, though.

  32. So someone stated as fact that the president has a “columnist mentality.” That says it all.

  33. I would be very interested to know if Krauthammer and Gigot criticize the president to his face. My guess is no.

    The rest of those columnists could disappear down a Florida sinkhole, for all I care.

    1. This is DC. You grovel and bow and scrape to your worst enemies if they have more power than you.

      1. Very true. Sort of like the Tudor court, only much more bland.

  34. So someone stated as fact that the president has a “columnist mentality.”

    Somebody misspelled “communist”.

  35. . [David] Brooks

    I love me some David Brooks. The Token Conservative in the duo that is NPRs itinerant liberal minstrels!

  36. You know, I wonder where the liberal columnists blaming Obamacare on the Republicans got their talking points?

  37. He also likes talking to the people he likes to read. The president is a voracious consumer of opinion journalism.

    If the opinion media fawned over me constantly, I’d also be a voracious reader of opinion journalism.

  38. One of the great privileges of the presidency is that, when so inclined, he can invite these columnists to his home for meetings that can last as long as two-and-a-half hours.

    Man, if I were an opinion journalist, I wouldn’t take these invitations. Is there no honor and integrity among journalists any more?

  39. Since when did spewing one’s opinion publicly become “journalism,” anyway?

  40. I was flabbergasted by this line:

    By meeting privately with the people who shape national opinion, the president ensures that his points of view will be represented in the media ? even if those points of view aren’t directly attributable to him.

    Is that a joke? The president’s point of view is always represented in the media! I think the writer didn’t mean “even if those points of view aren’t directly attributable to him” but “especially since those points of view won’t be directly attributable to him.” If the president wants his views in the media, all he has to do is talk, and people will report his views; this is about getting his views out while making them look like they’re not coming directly from him.

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