By Dave Andrusko
I had promised myself I would not again write with respect to President Obama, “you can’t make this stuff up.” So, I won’t. I’ll leave it to you to draw your own conclusions.
To be fair, I guess you can only play the hand you’ve dealt yourself (so to speak) and right now Mr. Obama is down to one card. To quote The HILL newspaper it’s to “ooze with sarcasm.” Here are a couple of revealing examples.
First, there’s a piece in THE HILL this morning. We’re told that the leader of the free world, a man with the incredible power of the Bully Pulpit, the Chief Executive whose disdain for everyone who dares to disagree with him is palpable, is posed to run as a victim against a “mean” Congress.
“His audience ate up the storyline portraying House Republicans as the villains in the 2014 storyline,” Amie Parnes reported. “Laughter and smirks were diced through the speech.” [Parnes adds, unnecessarily, “Just as important as Obama’s words are his gestures and style.”]
So, the same man who is forever lamenting how Republicans won’t work with him—who turns 53 today– never, ever misses a chance to mock his opponents in a manner reminiscent of an adolescent taunt. To complete the loop a couple of paragraphs later a long time aid talked about Republicans’ “mean spiritedness.” You can’t….
Then a piece in today’s POLITICO, written by Edward-Isaac Dovere and Carrie Budoff Brown, the jist of which is Obama, whose contempt for Republicans is matched only by his disdain for reporters, is actually fielding some questions. Why?
“Obama himself has been feeling isolated, aware that he’s not breaking through to the public. Senior advisers say they have noticed their message gets lost when the president holds what has amounted to quarterly formal press conferences.”
Ah, you can’t….
Actually, an even more amazing response came from one reporter who gushed, “It is a remarkable transformation.” When you virtually never respond to reporters’ questions, I suppose it is. But are we talking about situations where Mr. Obama opens himself up to the possibility of serious, sustained inquiries?
“Now, the pattern is for Obama to speak for 10 or so minutes and then take a few questions.”
In other words he is manipulating the press in the way that is so transparent you would think they’d be embarrassed to be a party to it. Is that an unfair conclusion? Dovere and Brown observe
“It wasn’t exactly driven by a renewed commitment to transparency, or the president suddenly deciding he likes reporters. Simply taking questions, White House staffers say, is not a smart communications strategy. But the occasional give-and-take, when it’s topical and targeted, very much serves their interests, aides said.”
“Topical and targeted” and when a reporter goes off script? They are ignored or slapped down.
And then there is this: “There’s also no denying that the president has demonstrated throughout his career in public life that he’s a remarkably skilled advocate whose performance only improves as the stakes get higher,” new press secretary Josh Earnest told POLITICO.
Actually it’s easy to deny. Just look at what Dovere and Brown described as the “inadvertent, sometimes unwanted news” the President has made “late in a long news conference.” They are off our single issue focus but suffice it to say they were characterized by either painfully ill-chosen words or delivered in that grating, ersatz-folksy tone the President likes to employ when he out campaigning.
David Gergen, who was an adviser to four presidents, told POLITICO, “Is this all very deliberate? Yes,” adding, “It has been carefully thought through, and there have been decisions on how to approach the press in the months running up to the midterm.”
So, we’ll see. Will reporters be grateful for crumbs thrown their way or actually challenge the President the next time he talks about those “mean” old Republicans?