By now you’ve probably heard about the dinner Obama attended that featured the stalwarts of the right-wing media glitterati, but you hadn’t heard about what actually went down.
Kudlow doesn’t really spill the beans on the content, but perhaps what’s more revealing is the mood…which could bode well for Obama’s ability to reach across the aisle.
CNBCâ€™s Melissa Francis: I have to ask Larry, I’m dying to hear about it, you had dinner last night with President-Elect Barack Obama. What was the tone like? Was he trying to win over the conservatives? Is that what it was?
There were about ten of you there, right?
CNBCâ€™s Larry Kudlow: This was an off-the-record dinner and I’m going to keep it off the record in terms of deep content, but Peggy Noonan was there, Paul Gigot of the Wall Street Journal, Bill Kristol, myself, Charles Krauthammer, some others. Nine or ten of us. I don’t think he’s trying to win us over, but he’s trying to connect with us an engage with us to his great credit. This was a very cordial dinner.
Francis: He is charming, right?
Kudlow: He is charming, he is terribly smart, bright, well-informed, he has a great sense of humor. At the beginning when he walked into the living room, you know, we’re all waiting —
Francis: Where were you?
Kudlow: This is at George Will’s house…he comes in and he came up to me, I had never met him before. I think he may have watched ‘Kudlow and Company’ periodically. Somebody game him a column I had written defending his business investment tax cuts. He liked that a lot. I said, ‘You know, sir, since Barney Frank and Nancy Pelosi, John Kerry, attacked him I knew I must be on to something good.’ He laughed a lot. I said ‘You took my best people from the program. You took Austan Goolsbee.’ He laughed and said they’re good men. I said, ‘But Mr. President, […] why did you leave us Robert Reich,’ who I adore, and he laughed and said ‘I want somebody fighting for me, Larry.’
Interesting thing. This is just generally speaking, he is so well-informed, and he loves to deal with both sides of an issues, and I’m not going to divulge what was said there and I’m not going to go into any of the specifics, but he enjoys the back and forth, and he is not, you know, tough, mean, insulting, snarling, none of that stuff. And we weren’t either.
This was a good conservative group and we just had a great back and forth, and he wants to keep the dialogue going with conservatives. I would say I am honored to be at that dinner. I was honored to meet him. He is a very impressive man, and I wish him all the luck in the world because we’ve got some issues to deal with.
Francis: What did you eat?
Kudlow: I can’t remember. I was so focused on him. I was sitting across from him —
Francis: You probably didn’t eat. Maybe you didn’t touch anything.
Kudlow: The food was excellent. I probably didn’t eat a whole lot. It was all very interesting, and he’s a good man, and we will see how he does. That’s all I can say. We wish him the best.
So will this help? I think so, but only if he continues to do it. This needs to be an ongoing thing.
And sure, he won’t win over the really hardcore partisans, but if Obama can genuinely engage folks like Kudlow he’s well on his way to reshaping the overall mood of the country. Because let’s not fool ourselves…the media has an influence (especially the pundit class) and if the right-wingers are more deferential to Obama because they honestly think he’s trying to find common ground that will begin to ripple throughout the country.
We shall see…