The president gave two speeches this week, one in the Rose Garden to talk about Obamacare and one in Ann Arbor, Mich., to push minimum wage increases. What did we learn? We learned that President Obama is most comfortable in campaign mode, and his campaigning has gotten downright ugly.
His Rose Garden speech was a typical self-congratulatory moment for supposedly hitting 7.1 million Obamacare sign-ups — although we know that once again, the White House is ignoring some inconvenient truths. We also learned that the president was vain enough to asked the networks to cover his speech in prime time, but they denied the White House that request. Prime time may not be what it used to be, but presidential speeches aren’t either, and the networks know it.
The president’s speech at the University of Michigan on Tuesday was snarky and hit a low tone. Obama misrepresented Republican proposals, and then characterized them as a “stinkburger.” Really? Is this the state of our political discourse from the man who claimed he wanted to elevate the debate? Shouldn’t he have left the demeaning language to a shouting surrogate suitable for talk radio? I guess if you’ll go on “Between Two Ferns” to promote your agenda, you’re not too worried about belittling the office, nor do you see the value in holding yourself above the fray and beyond the petty name calling. By now, it’s plain that there is not going to be any real attempt at governing for the remainder of this president’s term. Obama never learned how to work with Congress, and he never will. He doesn’t even see the utility in pretending to work with Congress the way Bill Clinton so effectively did.
For the next two years, we should be prepared for plenty of potshots, parsing, and denial — not to mention clunky, mean-spirited jokes — all from the president of the United States. I hate to sound pious or appear to be crying crocodile tears, but I am reacting more with sadness than with anger. No president should act this way. There is no chance that the president’s speeches this week helped his party gain any votes, much less enhanced his effectiveness.
Presidents are most effective when they lead; not when they join the chorus of the ragtag pack. It’s always been said that the best politics for an incumbent president is to use the incumbency to his advantage — by wrapping himself in the aura of the presidency. It has a greater impact and it is certainly a lot easier to watch.
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