Ask a Top Democrat!

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Sept. 14 2010 2:14 PM

Ask a Top Democrat!

When a reporter wants to make an argument without actually making the argument, he talks to a simpatico source who'll make the point for him. This is not laziness, mind you. It's just a journalistic convention that doesn't really make sense. And in political reporting, it leads to many, many stories based on the observations of two people -- the Top Democrat and the Top Republican. Sometimes he goes by a slightly different name, like Democratic Strategist or One Republican. Unfortunately, he's schizophrenic. He agrees with whatever reporter happened to pick up the phone and call him. Witness.

Dear Top Democrat,

I get the sense that the Democrats are screwed. You?

- Roger
David Weigel David Weigel

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


Roger, there is going to be a total wipeout, and it is totally going to be in Obama’s lap, He should drop plans for Congress and plan for Nov. 3 and what he does next. You know the president is in trouble when people in the White House go around saying, "If the public only knew this guy!" Obama has been in the public eye for three years, and people are saying they don’t know him? Whose fault is that? The public’s?

Dear Top Democrat,

Do you feel that the public would be on Obama's side if he campaigned more? You know, if people saw him feeling their pain -- if the public only knew him?

Sam: He is good at this, and in the last few weeks, he's been very good in what he's been saying and in being out campaigning for the agenda. Unfortunately, up until the last couple of weeks, the White House has focused more on telling rather than showing. These are emotional issues; people want to see him.

Dear Top Democrat,

I get the sense that Obama's problems don't have as much to do with what he's doing as they have to do with the faults of his political team. What do you think?

- Mike

Mike, it is inconceivable that a team so disciplined during the presidential campaign can't carry a message with the bully pulpit of the White House. It's politically irresponsible, and Americans have little patience for it.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 



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