I’m a little late to this, but Susie Madrak asked Obama advisor David Axelrod a very important question:
Madrak asked, “I’m a blogger, and I don’t know if you know this term, but are you familiar with the term hippie-punching?”
There was about a 15-second pause. “Go ahead,” said Axelrod.
She continued. “Liberals and bloggers feel like we’re the girl you take under the bleachers but won’t be seen with in the light of day.” She mentioned a series of incidents where the White House distances themselves from their base, and wondered how that helps Democrats regain enthusiasm from those same people. “We’re not big numbers, but we raise money and we encourage people to vote and get involved. You have to help us help you,” she concluded.
The call seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with the bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems….
But hovering over the call was the obvious disconnect between this plea for help and statements like those of Robert Gibbs, who recently pilloried the “professional left” for being overly critical of the White House.
While I don’t agree with Madrak on everything, I hope her question gets the phrase ‘hippie punching’ out there. Because it’s a sardonic phrase, it might just reverberate with our infantile press corps. It would be wonderful if the political press corps started asking Obama what he’s going to do to placate his own party instead of the Tea Party (one can dream anyway…). As a member of the ‘amateur left‘, I appreciate this impulse, and, as Madrak explains, this will help get things done:
I wasn’t whining about my feelings, for heaven’s sake. I mean, who cares? It would take a remarkable lack of self-awareness (the kind Republicans have) to think that Axelrod wanted or needed to hear about my feelings. I was talking about the Netroots, laying it on the line: If I take you at your word, that you need netroots support, you need to stop treating us like the girl you’re embarrassed to have your friends see you with. Help us help you by knocking off the condescending digs. (And that wasn’t even touching the many policy differences we have.)
Like Madrak, I don’t care if my feelings are hurt–I don’t look to political operatives for self-validation. But hippie punching simultaneously insults your rank-and-file while shifting the goalposts rightward. That’s not good for Democrats.
Stop the hippie punching, and instead, start smacking conservatives.