Greedy angry pig man in a suit.
Washington Post editorial board member
Reasonable people can agree that it sucks to not be able to do a tourist activity you were looking forward to, but that it sucks a lot more to have your pay cut. Right? The Washington Post editorial board says no. In an editorial deploring the "ham-handed tactic" of cancelling White House tours to save $2 million in overtime costs, the Post opines that "the pushback that the Obama administration has encountered is a proper comeuppance."

Never mind that that $2 million would otherwise have had to be cut elsewhere within the Secret Service, probably by furloughing Secret Service agents and other employees, cutting their pay. Republican members of Congress are angry because they've had to tell constituents that White House tour won't be happening after all. And the president deserves that "comeuppance," say the Very Serious People of the Washington Post editorial board. As if in the absence of cancelled White House tours, Republicans wouldn't have found something else to scream about that's just as irrelevant to the real pain being caused by the sequester cuts as White House tours.

Ezra Klein has it right:

There’s been a lot made in D.C. about how the sequester hasn’t really been a disaster, how most Americans aren’t feeling it yet. Well, it all depends on who you ask. The folks losing unemployment checks don’t tend to know their congressman. Their parents don’t hold fundraisers. They don’t come to D.C., and before they come to D.C., they don’t get a congressional staffer on the phone and build a relationship. They’re hurting, but not in a way that the political system actually notices.

The furor over the White House tours is an unusually vivid example of this grossly unequal responsiveness. There’s been much less concern over the pain the sequester will cause than the political pain the sequester will cause, and much less attention to the pain that is happening outside Washington, DC.

That's exactly what the Post's editorial is about: White House tours are the thing we've noticed. We've noticed them because they happen in our city. We've noticed them because they benefit nice middle-class people with the money to take vacations and the political engagement to call their representatives and ask for a tour. And, most of all, we've noticed them because Republicans are howling. That's as far as the Post's editors, and much of the rest of the traditional media, can see: within the city limits and where Republicans are pointing.

The question of what we hear about White House tours vs. military tuition assistance or whether federal workers can pay their bills or hiring freezes or scientific research or unemployed and poor people or low-income mothers and their children is a flagrant display of how loudly the voices of the powerful come through in the media, drowning out middle-class people, let alone poor ones. It's a testament to the parochialism of the political press. And even as they smugly write about President Obama getting "a proper comeuppance," the members of the Washington Post's editorial board clearly have no idea how badly in need they are of their own comeuppance.

Tell Republicans to quit whining about White House tours and start giving a damn about the people really being hurt by the sequester.

Originally posted to Laura Clawson on Thu Mar 14, 2013 at 01:26 PM PDT.

Also republished by Daily Kos.

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