It's A Treat To Beat Your Sweet

by digby

I really hate to link to the Politico, but today they are featuring such a plethora of gushy, beltway blather today that it's impossible to resist. Never let it be said that they don't have a talent for link-trolling. (And I suppose that in this new media world, that's probably a talent worth having.)

Today, they are featuring several articles with sort-of related themes. The first one is an "expose" of the media, including itself, on the subject of "Beat Sweeteners" which is a reporter's shorthand for the fawning while house staffer profiles we've seen lately, the recent exaggerated paean to Rahm Emmanuel by Ryan Lizza being an excellent example. (He's got the plum Woodward style "Bush At War" book contract.)

This is nothing new, of course. Courtiers have been flattering the King's men to get close to the center of power for centuries. The problem, of course, is that we don't have a monarchy but rather a democracy which requires a free and skeptical press to work properly. But then that's only if you wish it to work properly for the people. If you are serving something else you obviously have a different agenda.

So the perennial question becomes whose interests are they really serving aside from their own professional advancement and social acceptance? Joe Sudbay writes today about one staffer, Adam Pace, who seems to have become a village favorite, garnering a swooning Politico profile which could have been written by a 14 year old fangirl about one of the Jonas Brothers. Here's an excerpt:

When you’re a 20-something in Washington and you’re deemed wunderkind material, everyone wants to know where you’ll eventually end up. For Adam Pase, the answer may be “right where he is now.”

Pase is eight months into his reign as executive director of the New Democratic Coalition, a group of economically moderate House Democrats that is run out of the office of California Rep. Ellen O. Tauscher.

Vickie Walling, chief of staff for New Democratic Rep. John Tanner of Tennessee, says she doesn’t think there are “any limits” for Pase, whom she calls one of the “rising stars on Capitol Hill.”

But John Michael Gonzales, former chief of staff to Illinois Rep. Melissa L. Bean, a New Dem Coalition vice chairwoman, says Pase is “the right guy at the right time” right where he is now.

“What Adam has been able to do is see the potential for the group, realize what the group needs to reach that potential and get it executing. ... If he wants to stay on the Hill, I think the future is pretty damn good where he is.”

Talk about getting your beat sweetened.

I'm sure Adam is a terrifically smart young fellow and that he's got a big future. But there's just a teeny problem. Young Adam, while being just as cute as Kevin, Joe and Nick, is a person who seems to be serving several masters. Sudbay fills in the gaps:

So, what made him a "wunderkind"? Pase worked the Twenty First Century Group, a lobbying firm started by Texas Rep. Jack Fields, a Republican who left Congress for K Street. During the time he was there, they represented the astroturf group the Coalition for Fair & Affordable Lending. In reality, that was a coalition of predatory lenders. Yes, even the predatory lenders had a lobbying group back in the heyday when no one in the banking industry was being regulated. In 2005, they were trying to pass a bill called, the Responsible Lending Act. That legislation, sponsored by Rep. Bob Ney (R-OH and now a convicted felon) and Rep. Paul Kanjorski (D-PA), was a really ugly piece of legislation. It would have removed all predatory lending laws, claiming that they were only trying to make it easier to get money to "low income and minority buyers." It was vigorously opposed (and exposed for what it was) by civil rights leaders

Huffington's article notes that Pase has a history of fighting against bankruptcy reform on the Hill, too:
In April 2005, he went back to Moore's office as a legislative assistant, according to congressional records. A year and a half later, he was promoted to "senior legislative assistant." From that perch, Pase led the Blue Dog effort at the staff level to kill bankruptcy reform after Democrats took control of Congress, said a congressional Democratic source involved in the fight at the time.
Only in the warped world of D.C. could that kind of work make someone a "wunderkind" in the eyes of Democrats. But, Pase is still on the Hill now and at the center of another effort to protect the banking industry. His primary boss, Ellen Tauscher, has been trying to weaken the bill that would allow bankruptcy judges to change the terms of mortgages. According to Huffington:
"[Pase] was the lead staffer on all this stuff," said one Democratic opponent. "When he was with Moore, Moore was leading [the fight against bankruptcy reform]. When he went to Tauscher, then she became the lead."

I'm sure he'll go far. The Politico cultivates him, he cultivates them, and the agenda of the elites is advanced both on the hill and in the media. Voila --- the aristocracy lives.

The idea that Democrats are still working on behalf of banks against ordinary people even at a time like this is profoundly depressing, but sadly unsurprising. Their continuing allegiance to the powers that that put this country in this awful place is the way they organize their world. They are so fully indoctrinated in market fundamentalism that their neural pathways have been re-set along conservative lines. (If you are wondering just how conservative that is, read this from Jane Hamsher on the latest developments with the "New Dem" betrayal of average American homeowners.)

Meanwhile, now that the Republicans are busy fighting over which decadent demagogue is their true leader, beltway house organs are turning to these people for the same reasons they have long sweetened their beat to the tune of Matt Drudge. Hence, this, in my mailbox, from Politico today:
Moderates Dems have "sticker shock" from Obama plan-EXCLUSIVE details on secret meeting by Dems who want to trim Obama's ambitions.

Ooooh. A secret Democratic cabal forming against Obama's radical, commie spending spree. (And not a minute too soon, I might add.) And Politico was on the scene exclusively! Imagine that.

Of course all of this is mutually reinforcing. Here is a sickening example of some high profile partisan Democrats publicly beating their own sweet all over the Politico:

The strategy took shape after Democratic strategists Stanley Greenberg and James Carville included Limbaugh’s name in an October poll and learned their longtime tormentor was deeply unpopular with many Americans, especially younger voters. Then the conservative talk-radio host emerged as an unapologetic critic of Barack Obama shortly before his inauguration, when even many Republicans were showering him with praise.

Soon it clicked: Democrats realized they could roll out a new GOP bogeyman for the post-Bush era by turning to an old one in Limbaugh, a polarizing figure since he rose to prominence in the 1990s.

I'm sure all their friends are toasting and high fiving the war room wunderkinds of yesteryear for their brilliant plan, but now it's probably fatally damaged because they couldn't resist taking public credit for it. The beltway worm is already turning. Here's Michael Sherer at Swampland:

Team Obama's Petty Limbaugh Strategy

The McCain campaign would much rather have the story about phony and foolish diversions than about the future. . . . We have real problems in this country right now and the American people are looking to us for answers, not distractions, no diversions, not manipulations. -- Barack Obama, Norfolk, Va., September 10, 2008

President Obama won the presidency by promising to be a different, more substantive, less gimmicky leader. He said he would not waste our time on "phony outrage," like fulminations on the meaning of "lipstick on a pig," or silly characters like "Joe The Plumber," a guy who was actually named Samuel and was not even a licensed plumber. No, Obama said he was going to solve problems instead. Now that he is in the White House, he still makes this case, almost every day. On Wednesday morning, during an address about contracting reforms, he referred dismissively to the "chatter on the cable stations."


So why are we talking about Rush? According to Martin, the Rush "controversy" began as an idea last fall that followed a poll taken by Stanley Greenberg, who owns the house where White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel stays when he is in Washington. With his old Clinton Administration colleagues, Paul Begala and James Carville, Greenberg realized that Limbaugh was deeply unpopular among wide swaths of the American electorate. So, the strategists figured, why not turn the turn Republican Party into a Limbaughesque caricature? Limbaugh, a consummate publicity hound, was only too eager to help. Earlier this year, he said he hoped Obama "fails," a reasonable claim in context, given that Limbaugh's entire worldview is constructed around an opposition to the sorts of policies that Obama has proposed.

But echoed over the "chatter on the cable stations" thanks to Obama aides, including Emanuel and White House spokesman Robert Gibbs, Limbaugh's comment took on a whiff of treason. Limbaugh's rapid comebacks to the White House assault created what economists might call a "downward spiral" effect. “It's great for us, great for him, great for the press,” Carville told the Politico, describing the White House and Limbaugh. “The only people he's not good for are the actual Republicans in Congress.”

But here's the rub: If you believed what Obama said during the campaign, then Carville is dead wrong. Republicans in Congress are not the only losers. The American people also lose. At a time of unprecedented threats to the United States, a time of financial collapse, bank failures and record layoffs, at a time when the credit crisis has not been solved, and the stock market is in free fall, at a time of stagnating wars, rising terrorism in Pakistan and growing nuclear potential in Iran, the White House has done the easy thing. It has asked the American people to focus their attention not on solving the problems, but on a big-mouthed entertainer in Florida. This may be smart politics. But it is also the same petty strategy that John McCain employed during the presidential campaign, the one that our new president promised to rise above.

Oh man, you just know that David Broder is beating sweetly as we speak. I'm quite sure the provincial villagers will be shocked, shocked I tell you, that politics is going on here. Why it's downright unseemly and rude and so very, very disappointing. Cluck, cluck, cluck.

In fact, the whole beltway culture is one big frenzied, circular beat sweetener, which is why so many of us here on the outside looking in find so many of their protestations of "seriousness" and "duty" and "patriotism" so often laughable. Watching these people indulge themselves in repeated acts of onanistic exhibitionism in service of aristocrats and oligarchs leaves the rest of America with a vague feeling of embarrassment that we are witnessing something dirty and depraved that should never see the light of day. That's certainly how I feel when I read the Politico, anyway.