A conference call Thursday with liberal bloggers and progressive media reportedly turned ugly/awkward Thursday as White House chief strategist David Axelrod was excoriated for the Obama administration's continued swipes at supporters among the "professional left."
Susie Madrak, a blogger at the liberal site CrooksandLiars.com, chimed in and asked Axelrod, "Are you familiar with the term hippie-punching?"
This reportedly prompted a long pause from Axelrod who then responded, "Go ahead."
"You want us to help you, the first thing I would suggest is enough of the hippie punching," Madrak added. "Liberals and bloggers feel like we’re the girl you take under the bleachers but won’t be seen with in the light of day.”
She went on to decry a number of incidents where the White House went out of its way to distance itself from its liberal base and questioned how the practice would help energize the left for the upcoming election. "We're not big numbers," she said, "but we raise money and we encourage people to vote and get involved. You have to help us help you," she concluded.
The Washington Post's Greg Sargent said the tense call "seemed to perfectly capture the tense dynamic that exists between the White House and the online and organized left: Though White House advisers in the past have dumped on the left, anonymously and even on the record, Axelrod repeatedly pleaded with bloggers on the call for help in pumping up the flagging enthusiasm of rank and file Dems."
In response to Madrak, Axelrod tried relay some common goals. “Let me say this. I really believe this is the most consequential time in our lifetime… We are in a struggle, we are in a fight. We don’t have to agree, but we all have to lock arms and move forward here.”
“Saying we shouldn’t be involved in intramural skirmishes, I couldn’t agree more. And that goes on both sides," Axelrod added. "I’m not lecturing you, I’m speaking to everyone involved on our side. There are big things at stake here. The nature of progressive thought is that we go at it, we trade ideas, and that’s as it should be. But we have to come together.”
“No, I said help us help you. Don’t make our jobs so much harder with these comments,” Madrack fired back.
“I’d say 'right back at 'cha,'” replied Axelrod, seemingly irritated. “Whatever differences we have pale in comparison to the differences to the folks out there today masquerading as representatives of the American people.”
“I hear you, I hope you hear me,” he concluded.
After the call, Madrack took to her blog to sound off to her readers:
Basically, after Axelrod told us how wonderful we were and how much they needed us to close the enthusiasm gap in this election, I called him on it. Like, yo Dave, here we are, liberal activists who give money and [get out the vote], and the White House needs to punch us in public so no one thinks they take us seriously?
And then he said, like, your feelings don’t really amount to a hill of beans in this crazy mixed-up world when we’re TRYING TO SAVE THE COUNTRY (emphasis hers), and then I said excuse ME, we’re not talking about my feelings here, how am I supposed to motivate my readers when you treat them like the town ho?