Thursday, November 13, 2008

Politics As Usual Despite Campaign Promises

It didn't take very long for the interpretation of previous criticisms lobbed by the Obama campaign to switch around. A person could get whiplash around here.

Let's start with the policy of banning lobbyists from the transition team. According to John Podesta, Transition co-Chair and former Clinton administration mouthpiece, "Top fundraisers and other well-connected supporters will serve in an advisory capacity before the Democrat takes office on Jan.20." That from Podesta calls the policy, "the strictest, the most far-reaching ethics rules of any transition team in history." That's what was said of the Clinton administration, if memory serves. And, what Nancy Pelosi promised of the new Congress, too. We know how all that's worked out so far.

The bundlers, however, are exempt. Bundlers are the top fundraisers of a campaign, gathering up hundreds of thousands of dollars from individual donors and delivering them to a campaign. For example, Valerie Jarrett, "A transition co-chairwoman, raised between $100,000 and $200,000 for Obama, according to his campaign Web site. Two advisory board members, Julius Genachowski, managing director of Rock Creek Ventures, a Washington firm that invests in online companies, and Donald Gips, a vice president of Broomfield, Colorado-based Level 3 Communications Inc., each raised at least $500,000 for Obama."

Valerie Jarrett is credited with introducing Barack Obama to Michelle Obama, a work colleague back in the day. Old pals from Chicago.

"A third, Michael Froman, brought in between $200,000 and $500,000 for the campaign. Froman is managing director at New York - based Citigroup, Inc. The financial institution's employees and their families contributed $581,216, Obama's seventh-biggest source of campaign cash, according to the Center of Responsive Politics, a Washington-based research group."

The article goes on and on. "Obama may be learning quickly that what sounds good on the campaign trail may not always be best for governing, said Costas Panagopoulos, director of Fordham University's Center for Electoral Politics and Democracy in New York." Duh. It was all about the righteous speeches and marketing for the Obama campaign. Just a matter of time before it starting coming back to bite Team Obama.

On Politico recently, Carol E. Lee wrote of "Rahmbonics", the term coined for Obama chief of staff Rahm Emanuel's way of mangling common sayings and phrases in conversation. He received the naming of his way of speaking during his days in the Clinton White House. "The jumbling began during a discussion of how Washington leaders have put off dealing with energy issues since the oil crisis in 1974 and health care for nearly just as long." "We had a crisis, we kicked it down the can," Emanuel explained to "Face the Nation" host Bob Schieffer."

And, these were the people to laugh at President Bush the loudest?

And in keeping with the campaign policy of just simply shutting down the critics - Robert Gibbs is said to be the new Obama administration's Press Secretary. From an article by Howard Kurtz at, "When a CBS correspondent reported last month that Barack Obama's campaign had a malodorous airplane and a dismissive attitude toward the media, Robert Gibbs, the candidate's top spokesman, was not pleased." "Robert wrote a rather tendentious note to me," Dean Reynolds says. "He would get in your face, not in a very heated way, but he would question your stories."

Ah, get in your face. Just as the candidate himself had instructed his rally goers, a la Saul Alinsky. I see the staff got the training, too.

"Gibbs, who transition officials say is in line to become White House press secretary, can be funny, gossipy and an invaluable source of information about his boss, journalists say. He also monitors coverage intensively, pushing back against the smallest blog post he considers inaccurate." Is 'gossipy' a good adjective for a press secretary? How'd that work out for Richard Armitage, chief of staff for Colin Powell at State Department? He spilled the beans on Valerie Plame's identity and Armitage, with cooperation from Powell, let Scooter Libby and others take the heat for it. Libby went to jail.

"He's the last person Barack talks to when he's thinking about how to handle reporters' questions," says Linda Douglass, a campaign spokeswoman. "We call him the Barack Whisperer. He completely understands his thinking and knows how Barack wants to come across." So, he puts the 'smooth' into Obama's answers. Interesting. Image is everything.

So, where's all this change we've been told we'll have with an Obama presidency?

"Several reporters say Gibbs shared extra tidbits with favored correspondents and froze out others who criticized Obama, refusing to return calls or e-mails for weeks. Shouting matches were not uncommon, say these reporters, who did not want to be quoted criticizing an official they have to deal with, and Gibbs sometimes went over their heads and complained to their bosses."

Sounds like politics as usual to me.


Kris, in New England said...

Your last line says it all. As I was reading it that's all that buzzed thru my head.

Campaign promises carry no more weight with the candidates than the paper they are written on. It is all about marketing and packaging.

You'd think on some level that maybe, just maybe, the politicians would realize that people might actually listen to and remember those empty promises, that there may actually be someone sheltered enough to believe that those promises mean something.

But why should a politican care about their constituency? It's all about them.

srp said...

I have totally given up on msnbc. They are even MORE biased ( if that is at all possible) than CNN. I thought we heard a rumor that they were getting rid of Matthews and that horrible screaming Keith Olbermann (gag - he should stick to sports). So far they haven't and they have added another goon - Rachel Maddox. I have never seen a reporter with such a sneering attitude on camera, at least when she is reporting something about conservatives.

In most things technological, I think we live in a remarkable age. But, with regard to the instant news 24 hrs a day, the press have become entertainers... spouting opinions and not facts. I cannot help being a bit nostalgic for the days when there was no cable and the news was simply that.... an hour distillation of the news of the day at 5pm. It was so nice to have Walter deliver the facts as if the American public had a brain and could form their own opinion instead of having it force fed down their throats.

I see that the one bright star in the quagmire of cnn has finally had enough..... Glen Beck moving to Fox News.

Z said...

Man, what are they SO AFRAID OF? They violated Joe the Plumber's rights (it's still going on), they dropped journalists from flights on their plane lying that one plane is easier and they were crowded (the last many elections have had 2-plane candidates and the only ones dropped from the Obama plane were those who challenged Obama), I understand Obama totally disses people he knows are Republicans or NRA types, etc....just walks away from extended hands, ... you CANNOT challenge this guy, you CANNOT criticize........THIS is scary, folks.

srp is right..msnbc is a GONER...a COMPLETE Fraud as far as journalism is concerned. Come to think of it, it's a CARTOON of journalism.

Incognito said...

people just aren't going to care whether he doesn't fulfull his campaign promises.. at least for now.. the American people are still in the honeymoon phase.

Besides, that's the nature of politics... we all knew (at least those of us with enough intelligence to see through the facade) that he would say anything to get elected.