On a day of great achievement -- the presidential signing into law of the most sweeping financial reform since the Great Depression -- the thin-skinned White House took a cheap shot at the media for their coverage of who would not attend today’s signing ceremony at the Ronald Reagan Building (with a nice bit of irony there since the Great Communicator was no fan of federal regulation).
In a pre-signing blog called "Much Ado About Invites…", Jen Psaki, White House deputy communications director, zeroed in on "numerous reports" about who was invited to the party.
She focused on the "fake controversy" about corporate CEOs either shunned by Team Obama or turning down the chance to get one of the coveted 400 seats in the auditorium. As the blogger notes, "thousands of people who worked toward passing the bill into law will not be able to attend the signing today."
A larger venue, next time?
Of political opponents, Psaki wrote: "The CEO's who opposed reform never expected to be invited to the bill signing and not a single one has complained to the Administration. In fact Administration officials have been in touch with many of the same CEOs about a number of issues over the last few days and this issue has not even registered."
The deputy also noted severe face-time competition from British Prime Minister David Cameron who is in New York. Apparently, a good number of corporate chieftains thought it would be more profitable in shaking hands with the new PM so they skipped the pomp in D.C. and the chance to shout "hurray" for the president.
In a nod to the private sector, Psaki noted it was the White House’s intention to invite a diverse group of "stakeholders," including Wall Streeters, consumer advocates, members of Congress and "Americans impacted by financial crisis, who were instrumental in making today possible."
The White House issued a list of expected attendees that featured a financial fivesome of Citigroup's Vik Pandit, Barclays' Bob Diamond, Bank of New York Mellon's Gerald Hassell, Independent Community Bankers of America's Camden Fine and Chicago Board Options Exchange's Bill Brodsky.
Imagine the PR coup for Goldman Sachs had CEO Lloyd Blankfein showed up to applaud the president. That fistful of financiers at the Big Show was joined by representatives from advocacy groups such as Consumers Union, Center for Responsible Lending, AARP, Demos, U.S. PIRG, National Council of La Raza, Consumer Federation of America, National Consumer Law Center, and Leadership Conference of Civil Rights.
Psaki was kind enough to give the media some editorial tips. She wrote: "Given the bill signing, Republican attempts to block the extension of UI benefits and the small business bill on the Senate floor -- you would think there is plenty of substantive news to cover."
Ouch! A touch petty, don't you think?
Instead of griping, Team Obama should take a well-deserved bow and then move on to getting an energy bill passed before getting into the election season. The countdown clock is ticking.