In the Bush years, publishing a New York Times op-ed criticizing the White House could get your wife outed as an undercover CIA agent. But when David Brooks wrote earlier this week that the 2010 budget was too liberal, the Obama administration was much gentler—he got calls from four different administration officials to give him a point-by-point breakdown of Obamanomics that was both "sophisticated and fact-based." They even gave the columnist a wall chart to track their progress on reducing spending.
The Obama budget "is not the Russian Revolution," the White House argues; many of its elements, from reducing entitlements to capping pay increases for government workers, should make Republicans happy. The columnist remains nervous that the budget is too big and hasty, but he has hope that Senate moderates can improve things. And at least Obama's people "know how to lead a discussion and set a tone of friendly cooperation"—a welcome change.