Once is a bad day, but twice in a row should worry Democrats. President Obama followed his gaffe-ridden Univision interview with an outing on Sunday on “60 Minutes” that is destined to wind up in a series of Mitt Romney ads. There was this on the recent developments in the Middle East, including the death of four Americans:
Obama has used “bump in the road” before, in reference to unemployment, which was the inspiration for one of Romney’s best ads. Obama’s “bumps” seems to be what other people would call “failure.” The “bumps” include four dead Americans and a disastrous loss of intelligence. (The New York Times reports: “The attack in Benghazi, Libya, that killed Ambassador J. Christopher Stevens and three other Americans has dealt the Central Intelligence Agency a major setback in its intelligence-gathering efforts at a time of increasing instability in the North African nation.” One official is quoted as saying, “It’s a catastrophic intelligence loss. We got our eyes poked out.”) Had Romney said such a preposterous and grossly insensitive thing as Obama did, there would be calls for him to quit the race; alas, when Obama does it’s not even front-page news for most of the mainstream media.
But that may not have been Obama’s worst moment in the interview. There was this exchange:
STEVE KROFT: “You don’t feel any pressure from Prime Minister Netanyahu in the middle of a campaign to try and get you to change your policy and draw a line in the sand? You don’t feel any pressure?”
OBAMA: “When it comes to our national security decisions — any pressure that I feel is simply to do what’s right for the American people. And I am going to block out — any noise that’s out there.”
Calling Netanyahu’s concern about an existential threat “noise” is another in a long string of insults, snubs and gaffes about Israel. This remark immediately raised red flags in the foreign press.The Iranians were happy, though. A reader sends me a report that at least one country is delighted. From the Iranian official TV outlet: “US President Barack Obama says Israel’s call for drawing red line over Iran’s nuclear energy program is just ‘noise’ he tries to ignore.” Well, the Iranians got that one right. And just to rub it in, Obama knocked Israel down a peg, saying it was only “one of our closest allies in the region.” Really? Is Egypt the other? The level of disdain he holds for Israel runneth over.
It is not surprising that the Romney campaign and other Republicans leaped on Obama’s stupidity. Liz Cheney tweeted, “Terrorists kill 4 Americans, says it’s ‘bumps in the road.” Israeli concerns about Iranian nukes ‘noise.’ Shameful.”
There were other miscues as well, that if not for the two big blunders, would be stories unto themselves. On his biggest regret, Obama again confessed to being impotent in Washington: “I’m the first one to confess that — the spirit that I brought to Washington, that I wanted to see instituted, where we weren’t constantly — in - in a political slugfest but were focused more on problem solving that, you know, I haven’t fully accomplished that. Haven’t even come close in some cases. And, you know, if you ask me what’s my biggest disappointment, is that we haven’t changed the tone in Washington as much as I would have liked.” Or gotten a budget deal, or gotten unemployment below 8 percent, or . . . you get the point.
From Obama’s perspective, he’s responsible but never really all that much. (“Oh, I think that, you know, as president I bear responsibility for everything, to some degree, and one of the things I’ve realized over the last two years is that that only happens if I’m enlisting the American people much more aggressively than I did the first two years.”) Was the problem really that he didn’t give enough speeches or go on enough road trips bashing Congress?
But wait. There is more. At a time when the Congressional Budget Office tells us that 6 million Americans will feel the tax bite from Obamacare, Obama proclaimed, “I haven’t raised taxes.” Well, even he would admit he wants to raise taxes.
There were so many eye-popping comments, CBS had to put some things on line. There was this remark about Obama’s ads, which his advisers have defended as honorable and true:
Do we see sometimes us going overboard in our campaign, mistakes that are made, areas where there’s no doubt that somebody could dispute how we are presenting things, that happens in politics . . .
Stuff happens. He’s just a bystander, you see.
All in all, it was the sort of interview performance that makes you wonder if Obama has been practicing for the debates at all, and if so, if anyone has the nerve to tell him his answers are ludicrous. The media will surely not treat Obama’s “60 Minutes” answers as noteworthy, let alone as evidence of his vulnerability, especially on foreign policy. And maybe that is a good thing for Mitt Romney. It is the media’s protective cocoon that contributes to Obama’s massive ego and overconfidence. It is also what comes from doing fluff magazine and TV appearances rather than getting accustomed to rigorous news interviews. The debates should be very interesting.