The Washington Post proves that real journalism and political commentary are dead. The most recent example of their shameless pandering to the political elite is illustrated in an article by Michael Scherer, Ashley Parker, and Tyler Pager on the “secret” meetings at the White House between members of academia and the President.
I put the word secret in quotes because it appears that people are all too eager to gush over the alleged details of the events to the right journalists, so long as they remain somewhat anonymous. But, of course, we wouldn’t want to betray the trust of the White House, now would we?
For those of you who hadn’t read the article, I read it for you, so you’re welcome – because it’s pretty rich. I’ll go ahead and break it down for you, but make sure you put on some work boots because we’ll be trudging through quite a bit of a bull, as an old boss of mine used to say.
Dude, the last time Biden met with historians they completely screwed the first two years of his presidency. They told him he could be FDR with a 50-50 senate and a razor thin majority in the House. Put him in a room with swing state car dealers ffs. https://t.co/8ZxvSqqevF
— Jonah Goldberg (@JonahDispatch) August 11, 2022
Setting The Scene
The journalists at The Washington Post are experts at waxing poetic and certainly dial it up for this piece. As Ashley Parker tweeted about the article:
“Last Thursday, as lightning crackled outside, Biden convened a group of historians for a private Socratic dialogue.”
You’re not having a stroke. Do not attempt to adjust your television. That’s a real thing that a real “reporter” tried to pass off on the American people.
Last Thursday, as lightning crackled outside, Biden convened a group of historians for a private Socratic dialogue. @michaelscherer, @tylerpager and I go inside Biden’s small group meetings w experts. https://t.co/MMmDgaNXGs
— Ashley Parker (@AshleyRParker) August 10, 2022
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You can almost hear the crash and see the flash of lightning as she transports you to what feels like another time, a time of civilized debate between intellectual giants. And then you remember she’s referring to President Biden.
On this particular stormy evening, he met with political and presidential historians in what is meant to make you believe is an attempt to zoom out to a more stratospheric view of current events to make informed governing decisions that will positively impact generations to come. In my opinion, it sounds like political theater to me.
He’s met with other experts since his tenure as lead Executive of our country. As the article mentions, these meetings are an effort to “…use outside experts, in private White House meetings, to help him work through his approach to multiple crises…”
The article gives an example of when former President Bill Clinton came to the White House to advise on various issues. One such piece of advice highlighted sharp policy contracts between Republicans and the Biden administration.
The piece then proceeds to highlight how the Biden administration was ahead of the game; “As it happened, the White House was already planning a similar contrast,…” in what appears to be an effort to show the political acumen of the Biden administration.
At this point, we see this article’s fundamental goal: to highlight President Biden’s political prowess.
Are You Not Impressed?
The authors of this article do quite a job painting the President and his administration as deep thinkers. As they say, participants of some of these “secret” meetings opine that:
“Biden, at these tabletop sessions, often spends hours asking questions and testing assumptions.”
I don’t know if you’d call asking people repeatedly who they are and why they are there as testing assumptions. But, all kidding aside, it’s hard to believe President Biden has the stamina to spend hours in a deeply intellectual conversation – those alleged “Socratic dialogues.”
Biden met with a group of historians who warned him of how much danger American democracy is in. At the same time, lightning struck outside and killed two people. That's not ominous at all…
— Alejandra Caraballo (@Esqueer_) August 11, 2022
Still, they double down on this illusion. Michael McFaul, former U.S. Ambassador to Russia under President Obama and a participant in some of these tabletops, said:
“I worked at the White House for three years before going to Moscow, and comparatively I think they do that in a much more strategic way than we used to do in the Obama Administration. It feels that they are more engaged.”
Engaged with who exactly? Because surely, he isn’t referring to the American people at large.
So What Did The Historians Say?
The future looks grim according to these historians as they relate the current times to the past. “Sources” say that the historical experts in this last meeting claimed the present moment in history is among the most dangerous to democracy seen in modern history.
Think about that for a second. Allegedly democracy is more in danger now than it was when we were attacked in New York City, more so than during the Cold War and the Bay of Pigs.
These historians compared the President’s moment in time as Chief Executive to that of President Abraham Lincoln and President Franklin Roosevelt heading into the 1940 election. Man, that’s pretty impressive to have your time as President compared to two of the most historically iconic Presidents of our time next to good ole’ George.
But to feel the graveness of these warnings, you must read how this news was poetically delivered.
“The conversation during a ferocious lighting storm on Aug. 4 unfolded as a sort of Socratic dialogue between the Command in Chief and a select group of scholars, who painted the current moment as among the most perilous in modern history for democratic governance, according to multiple people familiar with the discussions who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe a private meeting.”
Do you smell that? Because it’s getting a bit thick in here, isn’t it?
Where Have All The Philosophers Gone?
I once toyed around with becoming a philosopher when I was younger. But unfortunately, the pay isn’t so great, and the career path is unclear, so I opted to wear the uniform instead.
But I have always loved studying philosophy. Maybe it’s the poetic nature of the field or that I think it’s one of the most mentally challenging fields to dive into next to scientific endeavors. Unfortunately, I can tell you that Biden and his cohort fall far short of Socrates.
Socratic dialogue encourages a group to question and reach a consensus in answering a universal question. But to participate in Socratic dialogue, you must also ascribe to another Socratic method: Socratic ignorance.
To exercise Socratic ignorance is to be aware of your own lack of knowledge. After watching failed policy and strategy repeatedly, I think we can all agree that the Biden Administration is far from Socratic ignorance.
15 Deep Philosophy Quotes From "Socrates"
| Thread pic.twitter.com/wwjVsuZs7a
— Philosophy Thoughts (@Philosophy_DQ) August 11, 2022
In January, the President said that one of the priorities of his second year was to get more input from academia, editorial writers, and think tanks to:
“Seeking more input, more information, more constructive criticism about what I should and shouldn’t be doing.”
I would argue he would be better served speaking with everyday Americans; you know, the rest of us who feel the impacts of his decisions. Of course, Socrates would’ve advised the same.
Socrates spent most of his time speaking to everyday citizens to help them become their best citizens. When he would spend time with the powerful Athenians, he spent most of it scrutinizing their beliefs and helping them see their contradictions.
President Biden is no Socrates, Plato, or Aristotle. No matter how hard The Washington Post tries to make you believe it.
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