Don’t think you need to tell the White House the truth

June 13, 2012

In support of Carter’s post this morning, I’d like to shout out to the beleaguered souls working in the Obama White House and on the president’s reelection campaign today. I remember being in similar positions when things weren’t going well. When things are going well, you’re often reminded how smart you are. When things are going badly, you get a lot of advice and point-blank criticism of everything you do. 

One myth that persists is that people in the White House aren’t told bad news because people want to curry favor.  But the fact is, because people think that, many of your allies flatter themselves by thinking, “I’m the one person who will call over there and tell so-and-so the truth.” Well, I had a couple of tours as that so-and-so.  You get countless phone calls from people telling you the bad news, each one thinking that you must not be hearing it from anywhere else. The callers take great pride in being the brave and committed souls who are not afraid to call you and tell you how bad it really is. 

Some days, I would get so much “truth” it would be demoralizing and exhausting. At the end of the day, I did wish someone would call and pander to me. Sheesh. It can get pretty brutal when things aren’t going well. As I recall, the “harsh truth” was never in short supply. 

And another thing, people in the White House and on the campaigns are aware of what’s in the news. Including all the bad stuff.  So in addition to being besieged by selfless supporters who are not afraid to be the one to call and tell you the ugly truth, everybody at the campaign and in the White House does read it and see it on TV. 

So today, if you’re thinking that obviously no one is telling the Obama hierarchy the truth, and you’re the only one who has the guts to call and tell them, trust me, they’ve already heard from dozens who think just like you do. Put down the phone, take a deep breath, and then reach out to somebody at the White House or the Obama campaign and give them a pat on the back. 

Ed Rogers is a contributor to the PostPartisan blog, a political consultant and a veteran of the White House and several national campaigns. He is the chairman of the lobbying and communications firm BGR Group, which he founded with former Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour in 1991.
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