As one sub-cabinet Obama staffer once said: "I went to Washington fearful that I would have to try to stop the president's media people from trying to enact policies that were bad for the country's economy but good for Democrats in the the midterm election. I never expected to have to try to stop the likes of David Axelrod from trying to enact policies--like a premature pivot to deficit reduction before the recovery was well-established--that were both bad for the country's economy and bad for the Democrats in the midterm election."
Today David Axelrod runs into Susie Madrak. David Dayen:
Blogger Susie Madrak Asks David Axelrod: “Do You Know What Hippie Punching Means?”: Some fireworks at the end of an otherwise uneventful conference call with White House Senior Adviser David Axelrod, when blogger Susie Madrak took the White House to task for their continued swipes at the “professional left.”
Madrak asked, “I’m a blogger, and I don’t know if you know this term, but are you familiar with the term hippie-punching?”
There was about a 15-second pause. “Go ahead,” said Axelrod.
She continued. “Liberals and bloggers feel like we’re the girl you take under the bleachers but won’t be seen with in the light of day.” She mentioned a series of incidents where the White House distances themselves from their base, and wondered how that helps Democrats regain enthusiasm from those same people. “We’re not big numbers, but we raise money and we encourage people to vote and get involved. You have to help us help you,” she concluded.
Axelrod tried to bring Madrak in on common goals.
Let me say this. I really believe this is the most consequential time in our lifetime.... We are in a struggle, we are in a fight. We don’t have to agree, but we all have to lock arms and move forward here.
He then pivoted, kind of making it sound like both sides need to lower the temperature.
Saying we shouldn’t be involved in intramural skirmishes, I couldn’t agree more. And that goes on both sides.... I’m not lecturing you, I’m speaking to everyone involved on our side. There are big things at stake here. The nature of progressive thought is that we go at it, we trade ideas, and that’s as it should be. But we have to come together.
Axelrod tried to make it sound like Madrak was saying she wanted help (I don’t really know what he was intimating here), but Madrak said,
No, I said help us help you. Don’t make our jobs so much harder with these comments.
“I’d say right back atcha,” replied Axelrod, growing a bit tense. “Whatever differences we have pale in comparison to the differences to the folks out there today masquerading as representatives of the American people.”
“I hear you, I hope you hear me,” he wrapped up...
Liberal blogger directly confronts David Axelrod, accuses White House of "hippie punching": The call seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with the bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems.
"You play a great role in informing people about the stakes of elections," Axelrod told the bloggers. "One of the reasons I was eager to expend time was to enlist you."
But hovering over the call was the obvious disconnect between this plea for help and statements like those of Robert Gibbs, who recently pilloried the "professional left" for being overly critical of the White House.
That tension burst out into the open when Madrak directly asked Axelrod: "Have you ever heard of hippie punching?" That prompted a long silence from Axelrod.
"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added...
Life is funny: Basically, after Axelrod told us how wonderful we were and how much they needed us to close the enthusiasm gap in this election, I called him on it. Like, yo Dave, here we are, liberal activists who give money and GOTV, and the White House needs to punch us in public so no one thinks they take us seriously? And then he said, like, your feelings don’t really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy mixed-up world when we’re TRYING TO SAVE THE COUNTRY, and then I said excuse ME, we’re not talking about my feelings here, how am I supposed to motivate my readers when you treat them like the town ho?
Or words to that effect. I do it all for you, my beloved readers.