President-elect Barack Obama

Hildebrand Tries To Comfort The Left

And pretty much fails. Barack Obama's Deputy Transition Director Steve Hildebrand wrote a piece for the Huffington Post addressing the progressive netroots, and, honestly, it wasn't good.

Now, I get the overall concept of his message: Don't worry, people, the policies are very liberal. But as the first real open message from the transition to the netroots, this was dismissive and a little patronizing. Patronizing in that he used the first two-thirds of the piece to outline the issues -- as if we don't know.

And the "that's his job" line? All due respect -- and this is pet peeve of mine -- don't tell us about "his job." We're not third graders learning about the 'govinment. It's true that a president has to effectively govern and he can't do that if he makes too many choices that are hyperpartisan or ideological (see our current president and his subsequent incompetence), and it's true that some people aren't getting that message. But don't tell us that -- just do it.

The better approach here would've been to underscore President-elect Obama's progressive appointments and to remind us that even though the Republicans are on the run, we still have a lot of work to do together. "Together" is the appropriate word here. If the goal is to be all-inclusive, and then to write a piece that doesn't reach out to the netroots, what are we supposed to take away from the message?

I haven't been on board with the panic button reactions from some liberal bloggers, but this was absolutely not the best way to ease their pain. Very hamfisted. And I wouldn't be surprised if it's retracted in some way within the next 48 hours.

UPDATE: Atrios raises an excellent point.

For years we've had Democrats railing against those crazy hippies as an excuse to not do all of those things. If Obama's people are going to rail against the hippies and use it as an excuse to do [a very liberal agenda], fine with me. If.

Excactly. I posted a similar idea a while ago. Who better to implement a withdrawal from Iraq, for instance, than Bush appointee Robert Gates.

ADDING... I've received a few e-mails asking me if I'm abandoning my "It's the agenda, stupid" view of the Obama transition. I'm definitely not. A couple of things to clarify. 1) I'm not unhappy with his cabinet and staff choices. The only one I opposed was Brennan, who stepped aside anyway. And 2) To be perfectly clear, I agree with the general concept of what Hildebrand wrote. I just think the tone of it was way, way wrong -- and, of course, it ended up pissing off the very people it was meant to convince (Sirota, Hamsher, etc).