D.C. To Obama: Don’t Mess With “This Town”

Well, it doesn’t get much more official than this: an VandeHei/Allen “Behind the Curtain” column announcing that D.C. (“the town”) is “turning on” Barack Obama, and there will be nothing but venom coming from any direction for the foreseeable future:

Republicans have waited five years for the moment to put the screws to Obama — and they have one-third of all congressional committees on the case now. Establishment Democrats, never big fans of this president to begin with, are starting to speak out. And reporters are tripping over themselves to condemn lies, bullying and shadiness in the Obama administration.

Buy-in from all three D.C. stakeholders is an essential ingredient for a good old-fashioned Washington pile-on — so get ready for bad stories and public scolding to pile up.

Too bad, voters, and all those who have an interest in their federal government doing something constructive; Obama has to have his spanking from “D.C. stakeholders,” so enjoy it or look the other way.

What amazes me the most about this column is the forthright announcement that the MSM are going to make explicit common cause with the GOP:

Obama’s aloof mien and holier-than-thou rhetoric have left him with little reservoir of good will, even among Democrats. And the press, after years of being accused of being soft on Obama while being berated by West Wing aides on matters big and small, now has every incentive to be as ruthless as can be.

This open partisanship is excused by the fact that in “this town” (among the “Establishment Democrats” who are a “D.C. Stakeholder”) Democrats aren’t bothering to defend Obama. Which Democrats are we talking about here? Here you go:

The dam of solid Democratic solidarity has collapsed, starting with New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd’s weekend scolding of the White House over Benghazi, then gushing with the news the Justice Department had sucked up an absurdly broad swath of Associated Press phone records.

Yes, MoDo is your representative Democrat. When you’ve lost her, you’ve clearly lost the Blue States altogether. And if that’s not enough, we have the Anonymous Insider Democrat:

One Democrat who likes Obama and has been around town for many years said elected officials in his own party are no different than Republicans: They think the president is distant and unapproachable.

“He has never taken the Democratic chairs up to Camp David to have a drink or to have a discussion,” the longtime Washingtonian said. “You gotta stroke people and talk to them. It’s like courting: You have to send flowers and candy and have surprises. It’s a constant process. Now they’re saying, ‘He never talked to me in the good times.’”

Just a week ago, we were all mocking this sort of talk about Obama not having the viciousness or seductiveness to be an effective president. But the new “narrative” of Obama being on the ropes is bringing back all sorts of stupid and discredited criticisms. “This town” has turned on him! That’s all that matters. And after all, the same thing happened to his two immediate predecessors:

This is a dangerous — albeit familiar — place for a second-term president. Once the dogs are released, they bark, they bite and it takes a very long time to calm them down. Bill Clinton got hit early and often, and George W. Bush never really recovered from it.

Now we know. George W. Bush didn’t leave office as one of our least popular presidents because of the Iraq War or Katrina or his squandering of a budget surplus or his economic policy malfeasance: like Obama, he didn’t respect the mores and folkways of “this town” enough. So down he went.

On this particular occasion, Harris and VandeHei come so close to self-parody that every sentence is like a pinata you could hit from any direction. But make no mistake: this is a declaration of war by elements of the Beltway Media who are determined to show us all they still have the power to “bring down a president,” as they arrogantly used to say about Watergate, and that not only the GOP but the Breitbartian wingnuts have a new ally in the “Vetting” of Barack Obama.

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.