Kerry Eleveld of the Advocate finally gets her sit down interview with President Obama. The White House “gay charm offensive” is in full swing. Kerry finally got her interview after two years of trying (she did interview candidate Obama, but the President didn’t sit down with gay press until two months ago when he sat down with Joe and four other bloggers). And Joe and I, and Robin of GetEqual, Dan Choi, Pam Spaulding, Paul Yandura, and lots of other critics of the President got invited to the DADT bill signing today.
The White House is clearly reaching out, as it should, and as it should have long ago. Not that we didn’t have contacts with the White House, we did. But there was a certain distance between the White House and the Netroots, such as not inviting anyone to the White House Christmas party, not inviting folks to the previous bill signings for Hate Crimes, for example.
The point isn’t getting invited “because it’s cool.” Rather, it’s about how the White House perceives activists, the Netroots, and more generally, the base of the party. Invites to bill signings and Christmas parties are an indication of who the White House perceives as powerful and needing to be wooed. Outside of the large groups, who tend to worry more about currying favor with the White House than holding them accountable, the less sycophantic usually are written off as less serious, and thus less worthy of such invites (other than HuffPo, which the WH can’t afford to write off). The rest don’t count, or haven’t until now.
It’s all about reading tea leaves, and isn’t very different from the old days when we used to look for lights on in the Kremlin late at night to discern whether something catastrophic was taking place in Moscow. The invite to the bill signing is nice, but it’s a larger gesture. And it may even signal a welcome change from the White House. At least until the 2012 election is over.