Take Out The Trash Week

[ Posted Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 – 15:50 UTC ]

In the calendar of politics, throughout the year, the label "Take Out The Trash Day" is attached by the media to Fridays. Late Friday afternoon (or even evening, after the national television news deadline), the White House releases news that they'd really rather just ignore -- and would be very happy if everyone else ignored as well. There's a good reason for this timing: Friday evening (and Saturday as well) is the time of week when the least amount of the public is paying attention to the news. Meaning that embarrassing or awkward stories can be released with the fewest possible ripples in the body politic's attention. But this concept sometimes broadens to encompass an entire week. With Congress, the president, and what the White House hopes is a maximum amount of the public all on vacation this week, it seems to be the time to toss a few news stories over the wall, in the hopes that they'll get less attention than normal.

Already, this week has provided a document dump from the C.I.A. on the subject of torture, the news that we'll still be sending prisoners to countries who torture (but now we'll use extra-strong language saying "don't torture these folks, when we turn our back, OK?"), news that the White House will now be in charge of interrogations (which should scare anyone who realizes this would have made it easier for the Bush administration to do whatever it wanted to -- it's a bad precedent to set, in other words), news of the re-appointment of Ben Bernanke as chair of the Federal Reserve, new budget numbers with a more dismal total for the 10-year deficit, the end of the cash-for-clunkers program, the usual media story (this runs about this time every four years) on how "many White House appointees haven't been confirmed," and a lot of hinting that Afghanistan's going to need more troops. And it's only Tuesday. One wonders what is being held back for later in the week, at this pace.

Of course, all administrations perform this "hope nobody's paying attention" maneuver, so it shouldn't really be seen as an Obama tactic or a partisan tactic in any way. It's a White House tactic, no matter who is sitting in the big chair at the time.

But it is interesting to see how President Obama is using this tactic. From the very beginning, Obama has (although you wouldn't know it from his opponents, at times) shown a real mastery at flinging so much at his opposition -- simultaneously -- that they simply cannot react to all of it. Getting into high dudgeon for a politician takes time -- and it also takes time to sink in to the public's awareness. While Republicans build up a head of steam against one (from their point of view) outrageous idea from the president, they fail to mount an opposition against three others that sneak by them.

So, this line of thinking goes, it will be interesting to see what survives this week's media filter. And what will (eventually, when they come back from vacation) get the Republicans hot under the collar. And which of these stories will eventually slip by the media, the Republicans, and the public -- largely unnoticed.

Now, this is all ignoring the 800-pound gorilla in the "political stories" room, of course. And since the gorilla is named "Healthcare," the sour smell of sickness makes it even harder to ignore. The Republicans have done a dandy job of getting into top full-outrage gear over healthcare, you've got to admit. But, strangely -- as in one of those war movies where the "It's quiet out there... too quiet" line gets used -- the healthcare battles seem to be more subdued this week. Perhaps it's because the initial round of town halls is over, perhaps the media is getting slightly bored with the story, perhaps it's because everyone is on vacation -- but whatever the reason, the healthcare reform debate has seemed to noticeably die down this week.

This could wind up being a good thing for Obama's first "Take Out The Trash Week," or a bad thing. If the media doesn't have people screaming at each other over killing Grandma to run with, then there is always a danger they'll dig in to stories with a high embarrassment or awkwardness factor for the White House. But then again, even money could also be bet on whether the media will get distracted by a cat who can play ping pong, or a squirrel that waterskis.

Isn't Michael Jackson's funeral coming up? Bet that wipes everything else off the media's screen for a few days....


-- Chris Weigant


6 Comments on “Take Out The Trash Week”

  1. [1] 
    Michale wrote:

    I thought Jackson's funeral was last week?

    Who knows... Who cares...

    The problem here is that, to date, Obama has taken the media for granted.

    He (and his administration) has assumed that they could control the media. And, to their credit, they were correct. As long as the ratings held and the public polls were with Obama.

    But, now we are seeing the reality seep into Camelot.

    It will be quite fascinating to see how the Obama Administration fares in August.

    I wager 500 quatloos that (bar'ing a Katrina style natural disaster) come Sep, there will be a whole new political ballgame.


  2. [2] 
    Chris Weigant wrote:

    Michale -

    Believe me, when the Jackson funeral happens, you'll know it. Unless you are on an island with no media access for about a week when it happens.


  3. [3] 
    Michale wrote:

    Oh, that's right.

    It was supposed to be on his 51st birthday, but I read it's been postponed again.

    I guess they need to verify that Jackson was actually born in Hawaii... :D


  4. [4] 
    Michale wrote:

    Democratic Health Care Bill Divulges IRS Tax Data

    If we're going to have such significant additional government intrusion into our health care system, we will have to draw the privacy line somewhere. Maybe the House Democrats' current bill gets it right. Maybe it doesn't. But this vignette should be reason to be skeptical of claims that a massive and complex bill must be enacted so rapidly as its backers would have you believe.

  5. [5] 
    Michale wrote:

    Well, here's an interesting twist.

    A Democrat Congressman, from the same party that wants to forbid any kind of ID Check in voting booths, DEMANDS the ID of a constituent wanting to ask a question.

    I shit you not, you can't make this stuff up.

    According to Democrats, you shouldn't have to produce an ID to vote, but you damn well better have ID before you can ask a question of a Democrat CongressCritter.

    Go figger....


  6. [6] 
    Michale wrote:


    If you take nominations, I would like to nominate the above CongressCritter for your MDDOTW award. :D

    At least a dishonorable mention..


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