The surprise should be that it took so long to happen- and is so limited.
Last month, criticizing Massachusetts Senator Warren on MSNBC's Hardball, President Obama stated "I love Elizabeth. We're allies on a whole host of issues. But she's wrong on this. Last weekend, Obama charged "The truth of the matter is that Elizabeth is, you know, a politician like everybody else.”
After the Senate (at least temporarily) yesterday blocked the Trade Promotion Authority (fast track authorization) the President had been aggressively seeking, Senator Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio), an ally of Senator Warren on the matters of trade, financial regulation, and giving a helping hand to the middle class, remarked “I think the president was disrespectful to her by the way he did that... I think that the president has made this more personal than he needed to.”
Had Senator Brown been less respectful himself, he might have noted that, following Obama's initial criticism of Warren, the President misleadingly claimed
Every single one of the critics saying this is a secret deal, or send out e-mails to their fundraising base that they're working to stop a secret deal, could walk over and see the text of the agreement. When I just keep on hearing people repeating this notion that it's secret -- I gotta say, it's dishonest. And it's a little concerning when I see friends of mine resorting to those sort of tactics.
Were Brown less reserved, he might have mentioned that the person making that statement has decided that this non-secret deal is a national security matter. On the floor of the Senate, an exasperated Senator Barbara Boxer explained (video below)
The guard says, "you can’t take notes." I said, "I can’t take notes?’” "Well, you can take notes, but have to give them back to me, and I’ll put them in a file." So I said: "Wait a minute. I’m going to take notes and then you’re going to take my notes away from me and then you’re going to have them in a file, and you can read my notes? Not on your life."
I gotta say, it's dishonest, swears the guy who maintains it is not a secret deal, although a Senator is subject to prosecution if she reveals anything about it. As Joseph Stiglitz told Chris Hayes
Well, to put it quite bluntly, I think from what we`ve been able to see of the TPP, you have to remember, USDR keeps these trade agreements secret and the only reason we know about it is from WikiLeaks (ph) and in my case, talking to negotiators from other countries where there`s a little bit more transparency than the United States.
From what we`ve been able to see, this is a very bad agreement. It`s not just about trade. The trade part is bad enough. But it`s about intellectual property, regulation.
While Brown called Obama "disrespectful," he could have knocked him for being dishonest. Patronizing might have come into play, also. It wouldn't be the first time for Obama, who infamously on the campaign trail in 2008 lifted his nose in the air and maintained "It’s not surprising then that they get bitter, they cling to guns or religion or antipathy to people who aren’t like them or anti-immigrant sentiment or anti-trade sentiment as a way to explain their frustrations.”
During his re-election campaign, the President, defending his wife, patronizingly argued "there's no tougher job than being a mom," a perspective torn to shreds (in another context) a year ago by writer and mother Mary Elizabeth Williams.
The President not only looks down on mere mortals, the habit is spreading. Presidential press secretary Josh Earnest, appearing on Morning Joe, actually stated
Well Joe, as somebody who gets paid to talk in public for a living, I try to be mindful of at least trying to be slow to criticize people who say things in public that are so inconsistent with their reputation and with their character. And Senator Brown is somebody that has a good relationship with the president. They've worked effectively on a range of issues including nominating and confirming the first woman to be the chair of the Federal Reserve. So, Senator Brown is a stand-up guy. And I'm confident after he's had a chance to take a look at the comments he made yesterday, that he'll find a way to apologize.
Gosh, Barack Obama's feelings were hurt and Sherrod Brown will apologize, Earnest speculated, "after he's had a chance to look at the comments he made yesterday" As a child, Brown just blurts things out, infers the President's spokesperson.
So keep at it, Senator. It may be a dream, but perhaps a couple of other members of Congress will follow your lead and Barack Obama will realize your criticism is quite mild, that others have not escaped the realization of how demeaning he is.