More respectable company

MORE RESPECTABLE COMPANY…. So, Barack Obama chatted with some leading conservative columnists/pundits last night. When will he sit down with commentators of a more liberal persuasion? Apparently, this morning.

Obama held a meeting with several columnists and liberal commentators this morning, following up on last night’s dinner with conservative writers, according to a source with knowledge of the meeting. Some of the writers there today are clearly on the liberal side, while others more moderate.

Today’s group included the Washington Post’s E.J. Dionne and Eugene Robinson, the Wall Street Journal’s Gerry Seib, National Journal’s Ron Brownstein, the New York Times Frank Rich and Maureen Dowd, and MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow, among others.

The meeting was held at the transition headquarters.

Looking over the list, it occurs to me that these center-left media figures seem far more likely to be critical of Obama than the conservative figures were to be critical of Bush. Something about the ideology and intellectual seriousness, I suppose.

On a related note, the pool report from last night, noting the motley crew Obama was breaking bread with, said sarcastically, “The bloggers are going to love this one.” But looking around this morning, it seems most of the progressive bloggers aren’t especially troubled by the gathering.

Jonathan Chait has a compelling argument as to why the left seems unfazed.

[I]magine this counterfactual: George W. Bush (or maybe a victorious John McCain) sat down before his first inauguration with Paul Krugman, E.J. Dionne, and Frank Foer. Would conservatives have reacted with the same equanimity? No, I think they’d have gone nuts. And the reason is that they wouldn’t have confidence in Bush or McCain to be surrounded by liberal ideas without being deeply influenced by them. I don’t think they’d have reacted this way if, say, a President Mitt Romney did the same thing.

And that’s why liberals aren’t having a cow. They know that Obama understands far more about policy than any of his right-wing dinner companions, is used to being exposed to opposing ideas, and won’t come out of that dinner telling his staff, “Hey, did you know we cut half the capital gains tax and raise more revenue?”