For all of the times American Crossroads, Karl Rove’s attack operation, is truly exasperating, once in a while, the group’s hatchet jobs are actually rather amusing — in an unintentional sort of way.
Yesterday, Crossroads released a memo accusing the Obama White House with prioritizing politics over economic policy, and allowing political strategists to replace economists.
…President Obama has no real economic team. And that’s why his economic agenda is a political agenda, propped up by political slogans (“Pass this bill! We can’t wait!”) and promoted by political means (taxpayer-financed political rallies and DNC-financed TV ads). The entire structure and focus of the Obama White House are centered on reelection, not recovery.
Need evidence? Where is the current head of Obama’s council of economic advisors? The head of Obama’s National Economic Council? Can most Washington reporters even name them? … Instead, this Administration’s “economic team” is David Axelrod and David Plouffe and Jay Carney, because all they want to do — all they can do — is politics.
Even for American Crossroads, this is deeply stupid.
Alan Krueger is the head of Obama’s council of economic advisors. Gene Sperling is the head of Obama’s National Economic Council, a job he also held in Clinton’s second term. The fact that American Crossroads’ leadership can’t keep up on current events is not evidence of a White House with no “real” economic team.
For that matter, the president — and his economic team — put together an ambitious economic agenda, which was heartily endorsed by a wide variety of economists from across the political spectrum. American Crossroads staffers may have noticed President Obama’s address to a joint session of Congress on the subject several months ago (it was on TV and everything). Congressional Republicans refused to consider the plan, perhaps fearing that economic growth would undermine their campaign strategy, but that doesn’t mean it doesn’t exist.
But that’s not the funny part. No, what I really enjoyed about the latest American Crossroads tantrum is the irony — Karl Rove’s attack operation is accusing the Obama White House of prioritizing politics over policy.
I wonder if Rove and his cohorts remember John Dilulio, a domestic policy expert and University of Pennsylvania political scientist, who worked in the Bush/Cheney White House in 2001 and came away rather disgusted.
In an interview with Esquire magazine, Mr. DiIulio said: “There is no precedent in any modern White House for what is going on in this one: a complete lack of a policy apparatus. What you’ve got is everything, and I mean everything, being run by the political arm. It’s the reign of the Mayberry Machiavellis.”
“Mayberry Machiavellis” is Mr. DiIulio’s term for the political staff and most particularly Karl Rove, Mr. Bush’s chief adviser. He describes Mr. Rove as “enormously powerful, maybe the single most powerful person in the modern, post-Hoover era ever to occupy a political-adviser post near the Oval Office.”
Instead of meaningful domestic policy work, Dilulio said, the Bush gang, led by Rove, relied on “on-the-fly policy-making by speechmaking.”
For American Crossroads to whine that “all they want to do — all they can do — is politics,” might be the single most ironic thing I’ve ever heard.
Update: Here’s Dilulio’s memo from late 2002. It’s a fascinating read, even now.