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The thing that really irked me about the whole "President Obama won't let the media have access while he plays golf with Tiger Woods" silliness has more to do with the fact that, while the largest climate rally ever took place in D.C., President Obama's golfing buddies included two prominent Texas oil and gas executives. (Not that the media would have covered that in much context, mind you.)
Deals do get done on the golf course. I think most people understand that, and so it's not necessarily a bad sign that Obama was playing golf with the same scumbags who helped destroy the environment and ravish our coastlines. It's possible that Obama said, "You know, Jim, we're going to have to do something about this, and you're going to have to get used to it." (Likely? Who the hell knows?)
But see, the problem isn't that Obama talks to oilmen. It's that he never, ever talks to people like us.
No, neutered Skype sessions with the general public don't count. Why doesn't the president sit down and talk with a group of the struggling long-term unemployed, those whose income took a massive nosedive, and all these highly-educated, yet underemployed young people? (You know, the people he only talks to when he's campaigning.)
He's not alone in this, by the way. In the past ten years, it has become much less likely that rank-and-file voters have any meaningful access to their elected officials. A lot of them have stopped holding town halls (or only hold them when they can hand-pick the crowd). Look how many of them won't even take phone calls now -- you can only fill out an online email form.
Look at the people who do have access: Lobbyists, CEOs, big donors. Wall Street billionaires.
And we don't.
Every time I see one of those stories about Obama helping someone who wrote him about their troubles, I get annoyed. Because these are almost always individuals with systemic problems, not individual problems. We The People are flotsam and jetsam caught up in an ongoing economic tsunami, and all we get from the White House are words -- and PR events.
It's time for some real engagement with working people. How about a White House summit on that?
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