Obama Dines With Will, Kristol, Krauthammer, and Brooks

The hottest story at memeorandum today is a remake of “Guess Who’s Coming to Dinner,” with Barack Obama in the Sidney Poitier role and George Will as Spencer Tracy.  Or something like that, anyway.    Obama had supper at Will’s Chevy Chase manse and Bill Kristol and David Brooks were on the guest list.   As John Kennedy might have observed, this was the greatest assembly of political minds since Jefferson dined alone.  The menu and details of the conversation were not disclosed.

Most commenters are not surprised and some, like Dan Riehl, is surprised that anyone’s surprised.   As Marc Ambinder observes, “establishment opinion matters to the Obama communications team.”    As well he should.  He’s never going to get good press from Ann Coulter or Rush Limbaugh but Will, Kristol, Krauthammer, Brooks and others who make their living as quasi-academic pundits can be counted on to give him a fair hearing.  And, besides, it’s harder to write mean things about people you’ve actually met and like.  And, as Steven Taylor notes, the tone the chattering classes take “is really going to matter in the coming weeks and months as the stimulus package is constructed and sold to the public.”

Sam Stein, debunking rumors that Limbaugh was in attendance, observes, “Obama has pledged to be a uniter once in office. He’s also said he is willing to take policy suggestions from any source, regardless of ideological affiliation, as long as they work. So far, he’s living up to his word.”

Riehl’s, right, too that, “If you believe Right versus Left down here on the Potomac is at each other’s throats the way the base sometimes is, you probably think professional wrestling is real, too.”   Dan thinks that’s why nothing ever changes, which is perhaps true.  But it’s also the only way anything gets done.  The Framers devised a system precisely aimed at making it very hard to do much of anything without consensus.

Indeed, even kos himself is fine with it.

Why wouldn’t he talk to conservative writers? It’s not as if he shied away from the other side during the campaign, even going on Bill O’Reilly to get yelled at by that old gasbag. Let him try to work his charm with that crowd. There’s little downside.

If highly educated elites can’t even have a civil dinner conversation across the political divide, we’ve got a problem.

Photo: Think Progress.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. DL says:

    If one believes that he is a man of honor with America’s interest at heart then this is fine and necessary – otherwise he’s just trying to look at the other coaches playbook.

    Cynical or a many times burned observer. I trust none of them – particularly the PE.

  2. tom p says:

    As John Kennedy might have observed, this was the greatest assembly of political minds since Jefferson dined alone.

    HA!

  3. Dantheman says:

    It’s not really my place to criticize the guest list, but I would exclude Krauthammer from “but Will, Kristol, Krauthammer, Brooks and others who make their living as quasi-academic pundits can be counted on to give him a fair hearing.” My experience of Krauthammer (whose column is syndicated to the Philly Inquirer, so I read it regularly) is that unless Obama adopts the maximal Likud position on any Middle Eastern issue (and maybe even then), Krauthammer will soon diagnose him as suffering from mental problems, as he has done for practically every significant Democrat of the last 20 years.

  4. James Joyner says:

    Israel is Krauthammer’s Achilles heel. He’s otherwise brilliant and reasonable, even if one disagrees with him.

  5. Billy says:

    If highly educated elites can’t even have a civil dinner conversation across the political divide, we’ve got a problem.

    I don’t see how you can make the case that this wasn’t the exact situation during the six years of republican rule. And yes, we now have a LOT of problems as a result.

    In any case, many are correct in saying that this is unsurprising. Nevertheless it is a good sign, and one more indication that we are returning to a meritocracy after eight years of wearing ideological blinders.

  6. JDubbs says:

    There can certainly be no assurances, but given the toxic atmosphere that existed 8 years ago, a mirror event by the “uniter no the divider” could have done him a world of good.

    Or even, after the Iraq War or Katrina. Keeping one’s opponents on civil terms is simply smart and good for the country. You can disagree without being disagreeable.

  7. Dantheman says:

    “Israel is Krauthammer’s Achilles heel. He’s otherwise brilliant and reasonable, even if one disagrees with him.”

    I will disagree. He is apt to respond to disagreement in ways little short of the Coulters and Moores of the world, resorting to personal attacks which go way out of bounds.

  8. Bithead says:

    So, Obama had dinner with Kruathammer, and what can be best described as three centrists. So doing, he can now say to his base he was ‘talking to both sides’. Anyone who doesn’t understand this was a triangulation ploy, grab the cone hats and sit at the back of the room.

  9. Franklin says:

    Kristol is a centrist? Very funny.

    Brooks can be centrist on some issues. I don’t read that much of Will so I don’t know much except that EVERYONE calls him a conservative.

    You’re trying to promulgate the false meme that this is a “center-right” country. It is not.

  10. sam says:

    He’s following a pattern he set when he became president the Harvard Law Review. In fact, some of his more leftist colleagues at the Review were mightly piqued that he liked to spend a lot of time with the conservative members of the Review team. See, Harvard Law Days. Especially the piece by Bradford Berenson (who was Associate White House Counsel, 2001-2003).

  11. Bithead says:

    Kristol is a centrist? Very funny.

    No, funny, he’s not.
    He was among those defending Bush from the right wing, remember?

    The guy’s a centerist.

  12. Franklin says:

    OK, I don’t read Kristol a lot, but from what I *have* read, he’s been conservative on foreign policy and economic policy and social issues.

    I don’t remember the particular defense you speak of.

  13. tom p says:

    No, funny, he’s not.

    Actually, I find him hilarious, especially when he gets on that Sarah Palin thing he does.

  14. Grewgills says:

    Franklin,

    Remember in Bitworld anyone with any opinion Bit considers to be to his left is not a real conservative. This is able to excuse any failing of anyone considered by most rational people as conservative because invariably he will not consider them a real conservative. In his world Bush failed* because he was not hard line conservative enough. There is no real point in engaging unless you want to watch him spin this nonsense.

    * to whatever extent he will admit that he did fail

  15. MM says:

    So, Obama had dinner with Kruathammer, and what can be best described as three centrists.

    They probably aren’t true Scotsmen either.

  16. Steve Plunk says:

    I have to wonder how President would have been treated if he had dined with a number of liberal columnists and leaders? According to Larry Kudlow the event was cordial and respectful. Another feather in the cap of conservatives for being civilized about politics.

  17. tom p says:

    Another feather in the cap of conservatives for being civilized about politics.

    Ha ha, heehee… Steve, you crack me up. Unfortunately for these so called “conservatives”, Red State will soon have them on their “leper” list.

  18. sam says:

    I have to wonder how President [Bush, I suppose you mean] would have been treated if he had dined with a number of liberal columnists and leaders?

    We’ll never know, Steve, because Bush didn’t have the cojones to try it.

  19. Billy says:

    Steve,

    You are a moron.

    That is all.