Chat With The Eye!
Lots of great questions on several topics from Tuesday's Post Politics Hour, hosted by The Federal Eye. Read through some highlights below:
Danville: Why do promoters like the Salahi's and Carlos Allen have an interest in being "connected" with President Obama?
Ed O'Keefe: Aha, a gate crasher question!
Why do people want to be "connected" to the president? This is Washington folks -- where WHO you know is the currency of choice.
Connections count for everything here, at least among folks like the Salahis, and the party promoter who apparently jumped on a State Department bus and got into the White House.
Face it, at least the socialites around here are real petty. Well, maybe some other people too...
Boonsboro, Md.: Do you get the impression that the White House truly grasps how badly they have handled the terrorism issue? Have they read the part of the Constitution about "insure domestic tranquility, provide for the common defense"? Or are they still in some kind of echo chamber?
Ed O'Keefe: I think you've seen -- and will continue to see -- the White House aggressively push back against charges they don't get it.
You need proof? Read Peter Baker's 8,000-word tome about Obama's anti-terror efforts. The story was slated to run a few weeks from now, but the NYT wisely moved its web publication date up to coincide with the current debate.
And if you read the whole thing (you really really should, I did on my Metro ride home last night) you'll learn of an administration that has made several key moves in the past few months under the radar, out of site of the news media.
Arlington, Va.: With news of a third party crasher, will the White House finally hold people accountable and ask for resignations, specifically director of Secret Service and Ms. Rogers?
Ed O'Keefe: It seems likely that someone's head will now roll, yes. If only because the agency didn't get in front of this story. If not the SS director, then at least the uniformed officers who let them in or their immediate supervisor.
Brit Hume and Fox: How is the Brit Hume Tiger thing news? Fox is known for conservative "glass bowls" to use Carolyn Hax's term. What makes this any different from the chyrons intentionally showing Sanford and Foley as Democrats?
Ed O'Keefe: Brit Hume clarified his comments on last night's "O'Reilly Factor" and it's worth watching yourself:
Hume said: "[Woods] is paying a frightful price for these revelations. My sense is that he's basically lost his family. ... That pales I suspect in his mind with what he's lost otherwise. My sense is about Tiger is that he needs something that Christianity especially provides, and gives and offers. And that is redemption and forgiveness. I was really meaning to say in those comments yesterday more about Christianity than I was about anything else. I mentioned the Buddhism because his mother is a Buddhist and he has apparently said he is a Buddhist. ... I think that Jesus Christ offers Tiger Woods something that Tiger Woods badly needs."
Tom Shales penned an excellent essay on this topic for today's Post. A key graph to consider:
"Earlier...Hume discussed, in an interview, his spiritual epiphany and what motivated it. 'I came to Christ in a way that was very meaningful to me,' he said; it was in the aftermath of his son's death by suicide in 1998. It would be indefensibly insensitive to mock Hume for his beliefs, especially considering the way he came to them, but that still doesn't mean one must cheer him on as he tries to turn a bully pulpit into a pulpit, period."
It may not be news, but it is noteworthy to hear a national pundit discuss religion and religious beliefs in such a way during a Sunday morning public affairs program. It's noteworthy only because religion does not get discussed more often on those network Sunday shows (perhaps wrongly, since Sundays are, to most people, "The Lord's Day.")
Shales suggests Hume should make some kind of a clarification. He did last night.
Saint Paul, Minn.: Hi Ed -- Thanks for taking questions today. How does the White House deal with the former vice president's relentless attempts to undermine President Obama? Hit back, as they've been trying to do? Ignore him? It seems that if they respond, they just give Cheney more coverage, but if they don't do anything, they look weak. Why is it that this president, no matter what he does or what the situation, is always between a rock and a hard place?
Ed O'Keefe: It's pretty evident that the administration is more than willing to quickly respond to Vice President Cheney's statements.
Why? Because they want Americans to believe that he's the leader of the Republican Party. You make Cheney the leader of the GOP in the minds of Americans and it reminds many of them of the Bush administration, which is still an unpopular period in American history for most.
Have no doubt: The White House will engage Cheney whenever he opens his mouth.
Washington, DC: What's your sense of the Obama White House's willingness/ability to revamp the General Schedule along the lines suggested by OPM's John Berry? Personally, I can't see the federal workers' unions getting behind this, and I can't see Obama risking the unions' endorsements.
Ed O'Keefe: The unions won't abandon Obama if he goes along with Berry's ideas.
My sense is that Berry wouldn't make such a proposal if he didn't think it would have resonance at the White House. But will it ever see the light of day? Probably not this year, thanks to the midterm elections.
Danville: Is the Secret Service unionized like what is being proposed by the new head of TSA?
Ed O'Keefe: Spencer Hsu, The Post's Homeland Security correspondent says this:
"There's an FOP presence with the Secret Service Uniformed Division, but it's not like a big government union."
If/when (more likely when) Transportation Security Officers (TSOs) earn collective bargaining rights, you can expect a big campaign between two unions -- the American Federation of Government Employees and the National Treasury Employees Union -- to represent the workers. TSA is the last big non-union shop out there, and TSOs are some of the most visible federal workers.
Read Tuesday's entire Post Politics Hour here
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