Daniel Pfeiffer is Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy and Communications. He was previously a member of Obama’s presidential transition team. I hear he is a nice guy, but there is no way I would know it.
Daniel Pfeiffer and I had breakfast together last Wednesday. Actually, Daniel Pfeiffer and I and about 250 other people had breakfast together last Wednesday thanks to the good people of Politico and Bank of America, who assemble audiences for Mike Allen’s interviews. The Mayflower Hotel, site of J. Edgar Hoover’s goo-goo-eyed lunches with Clyde Tolson and Eliot Spitzer’s goo-goo eyed trysts with compensated ladies, helpfully provided massive urns of coffee and fruit kabobs that would have pleased my trainer.
All of the reporters in the audience have long ago filed and forgotten their stories describing the event. They might have chosen to forget them before filing though that would have displeased their editors. Daniel Pfeiffer was not memorable.
It might be unwise to say something is not memorable if keeping reader attention is a goal. Unless, of course, the reader were to ask why it was not memorable.
The first thing you need to know is the “talking point du jour.” On Wednesday, April 3, it was “on the wrong side of a 90% issue” and Mr. Pfeiffer repeated it endlessly in his relentless pursuit of skewering Republicans, in this case, about gun control.
He does so because that is his job and it is not necessarily a bad job nor is it necessarily a job left undone by Republicans in relentless pursuit of skewering Democrats. Unfortunately, for the rest of us, it is not really a job that should be paid for with tax dollars because it is not about governing it is about image making.
It is not clear when this country lost sight of the idea that governing can be a good thing or that running (for office) and spinning might not always be good things, but lose sight of it we have.
I suspect Mr. Pfeiffer is quite good at selling. He seems to know which media outlets will accomplish what, which interviewers will place his client in the best light, which fights to pick and which not (Bob Woodward) and other more obscure spinning arts. It is possible he also knows how to determine which points will sell though this was not clear from the interview.
What is clear is that Mr. Pfeiffer has very little idea of, or concern for, what ideas will actually work. Does his 90% really know what will reduce homicides, which seems to be the point of gun control, and does Mr. Pfeiffer care? From his remarks on that and other topics, it would appear not.
There is much concern that America no longer manufactures anything. There is too little concern that our political process no longer manufactures policies that will work. It manufactures policies that will sell and, thanks to that, Daniel Pfeiffer gets to sit on a stage and be interviewed by one of America’s top political reporters.
Washington remains highly skilled at selling ideas, especially those that an identified set of customers already wants to buy. Daniel Pfeiffer became Assistant to the President of the United States and Senior Advisor to the President for Strategy and Communications thanks to his exemplary selling skills.