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All the other bloggers got fancy invites to the fancy Treasury meet-and-greet yesterday. Not me. I'm pure and unsullied. And now I hate Timothy Geithner. But if you want to spend some time learning about the Treasury Department, the New Yorker's John Cassidy has a Geithner profile, and the Atlantic's Joshua Green has another Geithner profile. Gentlemen, start your printers!

I actually haven't read either profile, so the point I'd make is a meta-point: Over the past few weeks, you've had a sudden proliferation of Rahm Emanuel and Timothy Geithner profiles. That suggests two things: First, the media are looking for scapegoats whose personal styles and decisions can be used to explain or encapsulate the seemingly troubled Obama administration (that's why they chose the chief of staff and the Treasury secretary rather than Joe Biden), and second, Geithner and Emanuel don't want to be scapegoats, which is how reporters are getting enough access to pad out profiles.

The members of the administration I'd actually like to see profiled are the folks who don't offer any access but are constantly in the room. Phil Schiliro, who runs the White House's legislative affairs department, is heavily involved in the nuts-and-bolts of how the administration approaches Congress, but he doesn't do interviews and so no one is quite clear on what he thinks or what he's done. Or, more to the point, Barack Obama, who happens to be making a lot of important decisions these days, but because he's hard to profile (and because irritating the president means losing all access to the White House), we instead get a lot of articles about his staff.

By Ezra Klein  |  March 9, 2010; 2:12 PM ET
 
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Comments

At this point in every administration our crack(pot) media take to playing "The Blame Game." If you're "hating" Tim Geithner (or any of the usual suspects according to job description) now, you're prime candidate.

First you take a card to choose a trumped up premise -- "The President is unfocused! 5000 points" -- then you spin the wheel on the Super Blame-o-meter, that selects the person to blame -- ("Today's scapegoat is Rahm Emanuel! Get this one right and you get 10,000 bonus points!") -- last you have to concoct a plausible storyline before the music stops. Ready? Begin!!!

Every President, regardless of party or problems.

Truth be told, you guys don't really want to talk to Phil or Rahm or Tim or Joe or even the President. Truth spoils the Blame Game. You want to chat amongst yourselves and play the game.

If you want to stop playing, first I'd suggest you turn away from the Huffington Post and its namesake, and other blogs that perpetuate the memes. Stop reading other people's stuff and go watch people doing stuff. Stop treating this President as if he is a mere clone of any other President. He doesn't need to channel his inner FDR, HST, DDE,JFK, LBJ, RMN, GRF, JEC, RWR, GHWB, WJC or GWB. Stop projecting imagery and problems onto him and his staff; instead allow them to proceed. Stop second-guessing. For as much as you guys think you know, you really don't know that much. Stick to "just the facts" and the stories will write themselves, no Blame Game needed to make it interesting.

If we could let the fictional President "Bartlet be Bartlet," maybe we can allow the real President Obama to be Obama.

Posted by: jade_7243 | March 9, 2010 4:58 PM | Report abuse

jade_7243 well said.

Quite bored of this profile business. It is all such a waste.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 9, 2010 5:06 PM | Report abuse

"All the other bloggers got fancy invites to the fancy Treasury meet-and-greet yesterday. Not me. I'm pure and unsullied"

Or ... they already know they've got you in the bag, so why waste any time/money trying to court your services?

Think of it like the Dem senators being courted with delicious back-room deals for their healthcare vote now. Pure and unsullied my foot: you know how this game is played.

Once they've got you, the need to provide meet n greets, exclusive tickets, or to tuck something under your arm to bring to the folks back home... less necessary.

Seems to meet, you got a Skype w/ Diane Sawyer, a spot on a hot cable comedy show, and your mug on a Newsweek page along with the WaPo gig. You value your career advancement, and you're being compensated accordingly.

You're a kid: nobody expects you to wise up, until the numbers are staring you in the face 5, 10 years after this thing passes --- if indeed they can come up with another to get the reluctant Dem congressfolk on board too. Then you can just play dumb: "I had no idea that the CBO figures might not hold longterm. Absolutely gobsmacked that there's not enough coming in to afford all our resolute promises back in 2010. But how can we take this necessary entitlement program away now? It will cost millions of lives and the only solution is to ... GROW the program. Oh, and catch me this Sunday morning on the Paul Ryan talking heads show..."

We can see it kiddo, even if you're still pretending you can't. Next time, hold out a little longer and you'll get gifted even more for making yourself look such a tool pushing this bloated plan.

Posted by: Mary42 | March 9, 2010 6:22 PM | Report abuse

Awww, poor baby.

I'm sure if this little M&G were about the Health Care crisis, not the financial crisis, you would have received a proper invitation.

Posted by: onewing1 | March 9, 2010 6:48 PM | Report abuse

I guess Mary42 prefers the crystal ball instead of argument based on facts and numbers. That generally happens when people have their head empty or rather full of stupid GOP talking points.

Posted by: umesh409 | March 9, 2010 7:53 PM | Report abuse

Nope, I'm independent.

I know how to add though, and I know that Ezra's missing out on the best part of the story here: what kind of backroom deals are going down to convince enough Dems to vote for a pork-laden piece of legislation that everybody honestly knows has been cooked to allow the CBO to come up with those "deficit reducing" numbers.

Just like plenty of us didn't fall for Obama's campaign promises, plenty of which -- if you're keeping your independent eyes and ears open -- are falling to the wayside as this administration begins to adopt some of the platforms and promises his opponents campaigned on.


"No Hillary. My healthcare plan won't be mandatory like yours. No John McCain. I won't be writing a blank check with taxpayer money to help everyone get insurance -- whether they want it or not -- that will be paid directly to the insurance companies."

Fooled ya again, he did! I think Ezra's already got his lines all rehearsed too , when the numbers crunched on this thing don't turn out to be the true ones in years to come.

"I was young. I honestly didn't know! It would have been a great, money saving plan, if only reality hadn't intruded with all those non-compliant numbers. I mean, who knew you can't promise the moon to all, while cutting their premiums and taxes, with no shortages of services and magically not running up the deficit. NOBODY saw that coming."

Except ... that's simply not true either. Kill the Bill while there's still time left not to bankrupt the economy! Do the right thing Dems, or you indeed will be voted out by the independents, fiscally conservative Dems, and Republicans who will be out in force voting this fall. Just Say No to the temptations of lucrative backroom deals. You'll be glad you did!

Especially the young pols. No need for all of you to commit career suicide over this. Look at the poll numbers, and don't buy that "people will find this more to their liking once they realize it's a done deal and there's nothing they can do about it except shut up and pay the ever spiralling healthcare costs which have not been reigned in at all with the reconciliated legislations.

Posted by: Mary42 | March 9, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

And btw, it doesn't exactly take a crystal ball to see that somebody has clearly compromised his journalistic integrity in shilling this poorly constructed bill reconciliation plan.

Just a little brains, and some basic math skills. Oh, and a dash of common sense -- something those self-professed economists sat on long ago.

Posted by: Mary42 | March 9, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

And here I thought I was snarky and righteously indignant. Mary42, hat's off to ya.

Posted by: bgmma50 | March 9, 2010 9:36 PM | Report abuse

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