Echoing a talking point made over the weekend by former Bush White House strategist Karl Rove, Sen. Lamar Alexander urged President Barack Obama on Wednesday not to “create an enemies list.”
Alexander was evidently referring to the recent spat between the White House and Fox News. On Sunday, Rove told Fox News’ Fox & Friends that the administration’s decision not to send spokespeople to appear on Fox News is “its own version of the media enemies list.”
“I want to make what I hope will be a friendly suggestion to President Obama and his White House, which is this: Don’t create an enemies list,” Alexander said on the Senate floor.
The Tennessee Republican recounted his brief time working in the Nixon White House, and described what he saw as a process that led from White House criticism of the press to the creation of an “enemies list” that became an infamous part of Richard Nixon’s legacy as president.
“I have an uneasy feeling only 10 months into this new administration that we’re beginning to see the symptoms of this same kind of animus developing in the Obama administration,” Alexander said.
Alexander went on to say that the administration’s political battles — its efforts to combat the US Chamber of Commerce’s efforts to halt climate change legislation and its scuffles with health insurance companies in the health care reform debate, among other things — “is typical of street brawls and political campaign consultants.”
“If the president and his top aides treat people with different views as enemies instead of listening to what they have to say, they’re likely to end up with a narrow view and a feeling that the whole world is out to get them. And as those of us who served in the Nixon White House know, that can get you into a lot of trouble,” Roll Call quoted Alexander.
The following video was posted to YouTube on October 21, 2009.