Personally, I’m glad these fellows are no longer affiliated with the White House. This way they can speak their mind without negative ramifications that might affect their former boss, President Barack Obama.
A week after leaving the White House earlier this year, David Plouffe took to his new Twitter account to announce that he thinks Karl Rove’s credibility is shot and his understanding of the electorate is “stupefyingly” dumb.
Tommy Vietor, another Obama ex-White House veteran, hit Twitter to offer his own measured critique about a tweet by Sen. John McCain concerning a new documentary on the Benghazi attacks —“disgusting, shameless,” Vietor said.
And former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau evidently didn’t think much about a tweet from columnist Ron Fournier of National Journal that compared White House aide Dan Pfeiffer to Rush Limbaugh. “You’re joking, right?” Favreau tweeted in response. “Otherwise, you’ve just won the Nobel Prize of False Equivalence.”
Twitter is aflame these days with high-ranking former Obama aides. Liberated from any official constraints, overflowing with opinions and no small measure of old resentments at political foes and the news media, they are letting the world know what they really think — and seemingly enjoying themselves to no end while doing so.
In the process, they are offering an unequaled window into the culture of the Obama West Wing. The brash, argumentative, sarcastic, often humorous, never-in-doubt ethos long familiar to reporters and other Washington operatives can now be followed by everyone in real time.
The Twitter alumni network has a distinctly male cast — it also includes Jon Lovett, Bill Burton, Ben LaBolt and even David Axelrod — and their frat-house banter serves a dual purpose for the Obama White House. It is an influential surrogate group, shaping the national debate while offering a relief valve for the pent-up frustrations of current administration officials.
“Twitter offers a window into the internal frustrations of an administration and the arguments people make on the inside. So it’s not surprising that people coming out of this White House are skeptical of Washington, Congress and the media,” Lovett, a former White House speechwriter, told POLITICO. “If there was Twitter when John Adams was president, ex-John Adams staffers would probably have let loose on Thomas Jefferson.”
But of course, there wasn’t Twitter when John Adams was president, nor was Twitter an influential medium during the tenure of President George W. Bush. President Obama’s aides are the first to leave a White House in the age of social media. Where former administration staffers took their newfound freedom to cable news or the pages of an inside-the-White-House tell-all, Obama staffers are voicing their grievances — and building their post-White House brands — through social media.
Peter Baker, a New York Times White House correspondent who has covered the past three administrations, said in an interview that much of what he is reading from the Obamaites has a familiar ring. The message is “about scoring points. … There’s no break between elections any more: When you read these feeds, you feel like you’re in September or October of an even-numbered year, not the spring of an odd-numbered year. They’re jabbing each other over perceived slights and sins. It’s all about jousting.”
“For the first couple weeks there was a feeling of being unleashed,” Favreau told POLITICO. “Tommy and I were at an airport waiting for a flight, and we were both in a Twitter fight with someone. After about an hour, we looked up from ours phones and said, ‘We have to stop.’”
- Of Highest Paid White House Staffers, 70% Are Men (libertynews.com)
- Reading the president’s mind (news.harvard.edu)
- How Obama is blocking out reporters and wrapping himself in a bubble so he can exercise ultimate control his public image (iamnotashamedofthegospelofchrist.com)
- Former Obama Speechwriter Reflects on White House Years (thecrimson.com)
- Farewell Favs (freebeacon.com)
- Obama PR machine whirs as access narrows (kypost.com)
- Meet Cody Keenan, Obama’s New Top Speechwriter (blogs.wsj.com)