Insularity of Obama’s inner circle has led to ‘routine’ heckling from would-be allies

There are two articles in today’s Washington Post that complement each other. One explains how the Obama White House functions. The other shows the results of how the Obama White House functions for people who thought they were electing an ally. I posted this on AMERICAblog — and thought it warranted a posting here, too. Much of it is all too familiar.

The first describes the insular nature of the Obama White House. The President relies on very few people. His little clique consists of Emanuel, Axelrod, Gibbs, Jarrett and Biden. They have shaped this presidency and brought it to where it is now:

“They miscalculated where people were out in the country on jobs, on spending, on the deficit, on debt,” said a longtime Democratic strategist who works with the White House on a variety of issues. “They have not been able to get ahead of any of it. And it’s all about the insularity. Otherwise how do you explain how a group who came in with more goodwill in decades squandered it?” The strategist asked not to be identified in order to speak freely about the president and his staff.

This is not an uncommon view among Democratic political professionals, many of whom share the goals of the White House but have grown frustrated with a staff they see as unapproachable and set in their ways.

It’s also a common view among the “professional left” and the “Internet left fringe,” too. Something isn’t working in this presidency and the people at the top don’t seem to get it. They blame the rest of us when the fault lies within.

Which brings me to another article in today’s Washington Post. Last night, at a DCCC/DSCC fundraiser, Obama was heckled from the audience over AIDs and Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell:

“We need your energy and enthusiasm,” Obama said. “This young lady here, she wants an increase in AIDS funding. … I’m sure we could do more, if we’re able to grow this economy again. That young man shouted, ‘Don’t ask, don’t tell.’ . . . As president, I said we would reverse it.”

Such heckling of Obama at Democratic fundraisers has become routine in recent months. The president was interrupted in April and May – both times at fundraisers for Sen. Barbara Boxer (Calif.) – by people protesting the president’s pace on eliminating “don’t ask, don’t tell.” The policy forbids gay men and lesbians from openly serving in the military; the president has urged its repeal, but Congress has resisted any change.

People are heckling for a reason. Obama and his inner circle have really messed up on the LGBT agenda. They’ve botched it — but I keep hearing that they actually think they’ve done a good job. They’re not listening.

The failure to pass DADT repeal rests with the President. And, before the apologists start screeching that it was Congress and the Republicans, ask what Obama did to help pass the Defense Authorization bill. There’s a simple answer: Nothing. Not a word.

Yes, there’s a reason people are heckling. It’s the only chance to be heard. Our advocacy organizations aren’t doing their jobs. Most of those groups dropped their organizational missions in exchange for access and invitations long ago. The only reason the DADT legislative compromise made it this far is because SLDN and SU kept pushing and GetEQUAL upped the pressure.

Being nice doesn’t work with Team Obama. If the inner circle isn’t worried about you, you don’t exist. All we’re asking is that Obama keep the promises he has made to us over and over. We’ve heard the words. We want some action, now.

Soon Team Obama will be in reelection mode. I don’t know how they come to LGBT voters and ask for our money, our time and our votes when they aren’t fighting to make us equal.


On October 27, 2010, Joe was one of five bloggers who interviewed President Obama. Joe is a DC-based political consultant with over twenty-five years of experience at both the state and federal level. Joe has managed political operations and legislative efforts for both candidates and issues-based organizations. For seven years, he was the Director of State Legislation at Handgun Control, Inc. He served as that organization's first Political Director during the 2000 cycle. Joe is a graduate of the University of Maine School of Law. In addition, he has a Masters in Public Administration from Lehigh University and received his B.A. from the University of New Hampshire. Joe also has a fun dog, Petey, a worthy successor to Boomer, who got Joe through eight years of Bush and Cheney. Joe likes to think he is a world class athlete having finished the 2005 Chicago Marathon in the time of 4:10. He has completed six other marathons as well -- and is still determined to break the four hour mark.

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