I'm genuinely confused. Yesterday, White House chief of staff Rahm Emanuel told America he sees the use of taxpayer money to pay AIG million-dollar bonuses as an unimportant distraction. Then President Obama said, no, the country is angry, and has every right to be, and his assertion was supported by new polls showing an outraged American public. Now today, White House adviser David Axelrod insists nobody cares about AIG ripping off taxpayers. "People are not sitting around their kitchen tables thinking about AIG," he told the Washington Post.
Look, I get that nobody in Establishment Washington genuinely cares that taxpayers are being ripped off, and I get that the super-wealthy political class from millionaire investment banker Emanuel to millionaire consultant Axelrod to millionaire banker Tim Geithner gives much of a shit that our taxpayer dollars are being used to make new millionaires on Wall Street. But their boss, President Obama, is right: A huge majority of Americans, most of whom are not millionaires, are really angry and has a right to be angry. And we're not talking sorta angry, we're talking about Gallup's new poll showing a whopping 84% of Americans saying they are "outraged" or "bothered" by the AIG mess.
The only question, then, is why the president is letting his aides contradict him and disparage the majority of the country?
These latest mixed messages are yet another indication that a the White House is creating a major economic credibility gap for itself. On the biggest economic issues of the day, the administration is saying contradictory things, raising questions about who is really in charge in the administration.
If the White House doesn't get out of the tone deaf D.C. echo chamber and get back on message, my bet is that very soon Republicans' faux populism that portrays Democrats as part of the problem is going to start getting traction.