Feigned Disbelief and Political Theatre

by matttbastard

Steve Hildebrand responds to critics in an interview with Greg Sargent:

“I don’t regret any of it,” Hildebrand told me when I asked him a few minutes ago by phone whether he regretted the tone of his piece, which many found condescending and finger-wagging.

“My intent was exactly what I wrote,” Hildebrand said, adding that the criticism had “surprised” him.

Hildebrand also confirmed that the Obama team had had no hand in writing or approving the piece. “This was not collaborated with anybody in the Obama camp,” he said, and a source close to the transition confirms this.

Perhaps Marc Ambinder and Ezra Klein are correct, and this was all just a Machiavellian attempt on the part of the Obama team (does anyone really buy Hildebrand’s hard-to-swallow contention that he called an audible with this play?) to shift the Overton Window via political theatre. Sure would be nice to finally see imperative policy endeavors like withdrawal from Iraq, health care reform, and climate change firmly established as mainstream pursuits in the US public interest, rather than planks in a narrow communist socialist Marxist anti-American ‘liberal’ platform.

Still, even if this is, in Klein’s words, “a calculated messaging strategy,” I don’t believe Hildebrand should expect much online backup from the (unnamed) angry “left-wing” boo-bears unwittingly cast as foils in his Kabuki production if and when he makes a behind-the-scenes play for the (operational) DNC chair.

And maybe that was also taken into careful consideration.

h/t Ta-Nehisi Coates

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers

How Not to Stem Criticism From Obama’s Left Flank

by matttbastard

Memo to Deputy Transition Director Steve Hildebrand: poking a beehive with a sharp STFU stick isn’t gonna stop the buzzing. It’s just gonna get your dumb ass stung.

David Sirota patiently explains why muzzling progressives isn’t the answer:

The reason the Republican Party and conservative movement were so successful [up until recently] was because they developed a symbiotic relationship. Specifically, the party apparatus knew that sustained conservative movement pressure on the party was good for the party in keeping it disciplined and on message. By contrast, the culture of the Democratic Party since the McGovern debacle in 1972 has been to bash the progressive movement – to triangulate against it as proof of “independence” and “centrism.” We saw where that got the Democratic Party for the last 30 years – but by the looks at the public post-election attacks on “the left” from Democrats, it seems like the party higher-ups still haven’t learned the simple lesson that pressure from a strong movement strengthens the party as a whole.

In other words, internal criticism from individuals and organizations who share your goals serves as a self-correcting ideological quality control mechanism.  Such good-faith criticism is a benefit, not an impediment.  Stifle it and you risk weakening your mandate.

Look, like Sirota, I’m not ready to give up on Obama just yet.  Every new administration will stumble at times, and I’ve been vocal (if perhaps a bit too impolitic) when I believe the criticism has been impatient and unfair.  But pat-patting progressive critics on teh heads with smug condescension and smarmy dismissiveness , as Hildebrand did, is just plain idiotic.

As Bob Cesca put it:

The better approach here would’ve been to underscore President-elect Obama’s progressive appointments and to remind us that even though the Republicans are on the run, we still have a lot of work to do together. “Together” is the appropriate word here. If the goal is to be all-inclusive, and then to write a piece that doesn’t reach out to the netroots, what are we supposed to take away from the message?

Couple this boneheaded online PR maneuver with Jon Favreau’s recent Facebook follies, and one can’t help wonder if the Obama team should perhaps rethink its wicked awesome new media strategy.

Recommend this post at Progressive Bloggers