There are many ways in which one can criticize the strategy the White House employed in its effort to limit losses in this year's elections, but this is about the dumbest thing I've yet heard a Democrat say in the current round of recriminations:
"There doesn't seem to be anybody in the White House who's got any idea what it's like to lie awake at night worried about money and worried about things slipping away," said retiring Tennessee Gov. Phil Bredesen (D). "They're all intellectually smart. They've got their numbers. But they don't feel any of it, and I think people sense that."
Let's count the ways. First of all, there are lots of people in the White House -- including Barack Obama himself -- who have experienced hard financial times. There are hundreds of people who work there, and Bredesen has no idea what any of them have been through in their lives -- he just likes to think that unlike other Democrats, he's a salt-of-the-earth guy, and they must have been born with silver spoons in their mouths. But he plainly has no idea what he's talking about.
Second, his presumption is that these White House elitists just didn't appreciate that in the current economic times, people actually suffer. If only they had known! If only they had called Phil Bredesen, and he could have explained it! The fact is that practically every time Barack Obama opens his mouth, he talks about how tough times are.
Third, Bredesen is asserting that if they had known, they would have been able to adequately communicate their sympathy, and this would have made the election turn out entirely differently. In the face of 9.6 percent unemployment, all you have to do is say, "I feel your pain, America," and the previously dissatisfied and angry public will say, "All right, as long as you understand, I guess I won't vote Republican like I was planning to."
Again, I'm not saying the White House couldn't have employed a different election strategy that would have been more effective. But the idea that because of their elitism they just weren't aware that being unemployed sucks, and if they had known they would have communicated their sympathy, and their failure to do so explains the election results, is just stupendously idiotic.
And in case you're curious, Phil Bredesen is worth somewhere between $100 million and $200 million. But he's no elitist!
-- Paul Waldman