Obama Disses “This Town”

David Dayen is right: this is the sort of story you mainly see in a very slow news week. But it’s still annoying as hell. Yes, it’s the obligatory report from Washington Insiders that the President just doesn’t fit in because he doesn’t get around and schmooze the movers and shakers who like to call the Imperial City “this town.” Though the author, Helene Cooper, doesn’t come right out and say his “aloofness” is the source of his political problems, that’s certainly the implication. And so add that data point to the absurd claim that Obama just hasn’t gone far enough to kiss ass–particularly Republican ass–in order to break down Washington’s “gridlock.”

People of a certain age have heard it all before, during the presidency of another man whose administration is so often compared to Obama’s. And sure enough, there it is in Cooper’s piece:

To many in Washington — including those, of course, who crave presidential face time — Mr. Obama’s seeming aloofness is risky. He is the nation’s politician in chief, and the presidency has always been first and foremost about politics.

“It’s about building relationships,” said Gerald Rafshoon, a television producer who was President Jimmy Carter’s communications director. “Some people are saying he’s a recluse. You don’t want that reputation. He needs to show that he likes people.” Mr. Rafshoon’s old boss, an outsider to Washington when he became president, recently wrote in his book “White House Diary” that he did not socialize enough when he was the chief executive.

Ah, poor Jimmy; even his own staff was apparently muttering behind his back that he didn’t accomodate himself sufficiently to the Georgetown set.

I devoutly hope this crap isn’t in Obama’s daily reading file, and if it is, that he just laughs.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.