Commentary Magazine


Topic: the Super Bowl

RE: Obama Strikes Out

Pete, Obama certainly has been butting into nearly every major sporting event since he’s been president. Last summer, we had to “listen to him blathering on with the moron twins, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver” during the all-star game. He insisted on dragging health-care reform into the Super Bowl. And, as you and others have pointed out, it doesn’t appear that he’s really all that devoted to some of the sports in which he has feigned interest.

It is pure ego, one suspects, that keeps him forever on the air. And yet it has, by all accounts, not helped him communicate effectively with the public. He has not persuaded the public of the merits of his key initiatives, and they simply don’t buy his arguments on health care. Despite all the face time, there’s no real benefit, other than the self-satisfaction he seems to derive from showing up and yucking it up with sportscasters who wouldn’t dream of asking him a tough policy question. To the contrary, he’s lost, perhaps faster than most presidents, the aura of the office, which is frittered away when the president is overexposed and, frankly, becomes a bore.

In contrast, one can’t help but remember perhaps the greatest presidential baseball moment in history– the narration (beginning at 5:13) by Fred Thompson is unforgettable. Now that’s a presidential appearance.

Pete, Obama certainly has been butting into nearly every major sporting event since he’s been president. Last summer, we had to “listen to him blathering on with the moron twins, Joe Buck and Tim McCarver” during the all-star game. He insisted on dragging health-care reform into the Super Bowl. And, as you and others have pointed out, it doesn’t appear that he’s really all that devoted to some of the sports in which he has feigned interest.

It is pure ego, one suspects, that keeps him forever on the air. And yet it has, by all accounts, not helped him communicate effectively with the public. He has not persuaded the public of the merits of his key initiatives, and they simply don’t buy his arguments on health care. Despite all the face time, there’s no real benefit, other than the self-satisfaction he seems to derive from showing up and yucking it up with sportscasters who wouldn’t dream of asking him a tough policy question. To the contrary, he’s lost, perhaps faster than most presidents, the aura of the office, which is frittered away when the president is overexposed and, frankly, becomes a bore.

In contrast, one can’t help but remember perhaps the greatest presidential baseball moment in history– the narration (beginning at 5:13) by Fred Thompson is unforgettable. Now that’s a presidential appearance.

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Hiding Behind the Bushies

Bill McGurn notices that the Obami are now seeking to hide behind the skirts of George W. Bush and his national-security team — the very people the Obami excoriated, investigated, and vilified as virtual war criminals. He writes:

Barack Obama defending his war policies by suggesting they merely continue his predecessor’s practices. The defense is illuminating, not least for its implicit recognition that George W. Bush has more credibility on fighting terrorists than does the sitting president.

Mr. Obama’s explanation came in an interview with Katie Couric just before the Super Bowl. Ms. Couric asked about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. After listing some of the difficulties, the president offered a startling defense for civilian trials: “I think that the most important thing for the public to understand,” he told Ms. Couric, “is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11.”

This is a far cry, as McGurn points out, from all the insults hurled by Obama at the Bush team. (“You know—all those Niebuhrian speeches about how America had gone ‘off course,’ ‘shown arrogance and been dismissive,’ and ‘made decisions based on fear rather than foresight,’ thus handing al Qaeda a valuable recruiting tool.”)

And then there are the facts: you see, it’s not true. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey says that the decision to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber and classify him as a criminal defendant wasn’t predetermined by any Bush-era policy or guideline: “And there is nothing—zero, zilch, nada—in those guidelines that makes that choice. It is a decision that ought to be made at the highest level, and the heads of our security agencies have testified that it was made without consulting them.”

It is political cowardice plain and simple to pass off on a prior president what is indisputably a policy judgment of this administration. Indeed, the entire episode personifies the core failings of this president — a misguided view of our enemies and the requirements of fighting a war against Islamic fascists, a willingness to employ leftist slogans in place of reasoned policy, a refusal to take responsibility for grievous errors, and an inability to get stories straight when everything goes haywire. The stakes are very high, yet the Obami persist in treating the public as gullible and a near-calamitous national-security failure as a mere PR problem. In that regard, they certainly are very un-Bush.

Bill McGurn notices that the Obami are now seeking to hide behind the skirts of George W. Bush and his national-security team — the very people the Obami excoriated, investigated, and vilified as virtual war criminals. He writes:

Barack Obama defending his war policies by suggesting they merely continue his predecessor’s practices. The defense is illuminating, not least for its implicit recognition that George W. Bush has more credibility on fighting terrorists than does the sitting president.

Mr. Obama’s explanation came in an interview with Katie Couric just before the Super Bowl. Ms. Couric asked about trying Khalid Sheikh Mohammed in New York. After listing some of the difficulties, the president offered a startling defense for civilian trials: “I think that the most important thing for the public to understand,” he told Ms. Couric, “is we’re not handling any of these cases any different than the Bush administration handled them all through 9/11.”

This is a far cry, as McGurn points out, from all the insults hurled by Obama at the Bush team. (“You know—all those Niebuhrian speeches about how America had gone ‘off course,’ ‘shown arrogance and been dismissive,’ and ‘made decisions based on fear rather than foresight,’ thus handing al Qaeda a valuable recruiting tool.”)

And then there are the facts: you see, it’s not true. Former Attorney General Michael Mukasey says that the decision to Mirandize the Christmas Day bomber and classify him as a criminal defendant wasn’t predetermined by any Bush-era policy or guideline: “And there is nothing—zero, zilch, nada—in those guidelines that makes that choice. It is a decision that ought to be made at the highest level, and the heads of our security agencies have testified that it was made without consulting them.”

It is political cowardice plain and simple to pass off on a prior president what is indisputably a policy judgment of this administration. Indeed, the entire episode personifies the core failings of this president — a misguided view of our enemies and the requirements of fighting a war against Islamic fascists, a willingness to employ leftist slogans in place of reasoned policy, a refusal to take responsibility for grievous errors, and an inability to get stories straight when everything goes haywire. The stakes are very high, yet the Obami persist in treating the public as gullible and a near-calamitous national-security failure as a mere PR problem. In that regard, they certainly are very un-Bush.

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Obama’s Whining About the Media Continues

Don Surber (h/t John Stossel) writes of Obama’s perpetual whining about the media:

How un-Bushlike. For most of his 8 years, President Bush 43 took a drubbing in the press. Honeymoon? Every story about him seemed to carry an obligatory Florida paragraph up until 9/11. I don’t recall Bush complaining. At least publicly.

Whining about bad press has been unpresidential since John Adams and his Alien and Sedition Act.

Adams did not get a second term.

So our president told Senate Democrats: “If we could just — excuse the press — turn off the cameras. Turn off your CNN, your Fox, your MSNBC, your blogs, turn off this echo chamber … where the topic is politics. … We’ve got to get out of the echo chamber. That was a mistake I made last year — not getting out of here.”

And don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.

It is predictable that the president once virtually carried on the shoulders of the cheering media throughout his candidacy should be peeved when even a tad of objectivity creeps into the coverage. But at times, it seems just the fact of the media annoys Obama. He frequently grouses about the 24/7 news cycle. He was obviously annoyed that media focus on the Christmas Day bomber forced him out of his vacation routine. For a guy who insists on appearing on five talk shows a day, the Super Bowl and World Series, and every magazine cover, he really doesn’t have much patience for the news-gathering process. He is content only when the media simply relates the administration’s spin of the day or hands the microphone to him at a preset time.

After all the softball interviews and the leg-tingling commentary received during the campaign, the Obami may have a skewed notion of what the media does. They have, after all, overinterpreted Obama’s election as not only a broad ideological mandate but also an excuse to ignore the minority party. (“We won,” summed up the president.) Obama and the Democrats seem to treat whatever minimal media scrutiny as illegitimate, a violation of the we-won edict, which assumes that because of their election victory, their decisions and decision-making are not open to examination.

When CNBC anchors criticize the bailout plans, they are “uninformed.” When pollsters bear bad news, they are “children” or shills for conservatives. When Fox carries stories unfavorable to the administration and ignored by the rest of the media, Fox is not a “real news network.”  In all these cases, the recalcitrant entities upset the normal state of affairs — “normal” being the 2007-2008 coverage of Obama the candidate who could do no wrong and who received kid-glove treatment.

But even the media moves on. And the president should, too. His petulant attitude toward media coverage is one of his least attractive habits and least effective tactics. It’s time he bucked up like his predecessor and remembered that media criticism not only comes with the territory but is also an essential check on the power and the hubris of the president.

Don Surber (h/t John Stossel) writes of Obama’s perpetual whining about the media:

How un-Bushlike. For most of his 8 years, President Bush 43 took a drubbing in the press. Honeymoon? Every story about him seemed to carry an obligatory Florida paragraph up until 9/11. I don’t recall Bush complaining. At least publicly.

Whining about bad press has been unpresidential since John Adams and his Alien and Sedition Act.

Adams did not get a second term.

So our president told Senate Democrats: “If we could just — excuse the press — turn off the cameras. Turn off your CNN, your Fox, your MSNBC, your blogs, turn off this echo chamber … where the topic is politics. … We’ve got to get out of the echo chamber. That was a mistake I made last year — not getting out of here.”

And don’t listen to Rush Limbaugh.

It is predictable that the president once virtually carried on the shoulders of the cheering media throughout his candidacy should be peeved when even a tad of objectivity creeps into the coverage. But at times, it seems just the fact of the media annoys Obama. He frequently grouses about the 24/7 news cycle. He was obviously annoyed that media focus on the Christmas Day bomber forced him out of his vacation routine. For a guy who insists on appearing on five talk shows a day, the Super Bowl and World Series, and every magazine cover, he really doesn’t have much patience for the news-gathering process. He is content only when the media simply relates the administration’s spin of the day or hands the microphone to him at a preset time.

After all the softball interviews and the leg-tingling commentary received during the campaign, the Obami may have a skewed notion of what the media does. They have, after all, overinterpreted Obama’s election as not only a broad ideological mandate but also an excuse to ignore the minority party. (“We won,” summed up the president.) Obama and the Democrats seem to treat whatever minimal media scrutiny as illegitimate, a violation of the we-won edict, which assumes that because of their election victory, their decisions and decision-making are not open to examination.

When CNBC anchors criticize the bailout plans, they are “uninformed.” When pollsters bear bad news, they are “children” or shills for conservatives. When Fox carries stories unfavorable to the administration and ignored by the rest of the media, Fox is not a “real news network.”  In all these cases, the recalcitrant entities upset the normal state of affairs — “normal” being the 2007-2008 coverage of Obama the candidate who could do no wrong and who received kid-glove treatment.

But even the media moves on. And the president should, too. His petulant attitude toward media coverage is one of his least attractive habits and least effective tactics. It’s time he bucked up like his predecessor and remembered that media criticism not only comes with the territory but is also an essential check on the power and the hubris of the president.

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Flotsam and Jetsam

Katie Couric will interview Obama live from the Super Bowl because we haven’t seen enough of him, and what he really needs is to communicate more with the American people. Well, that’s apparently what they think inside the White House cocoon. More cowbell!

Mickey Kaus thinks Obama’s excuse mongering about the health-care bill (“we were just about to clean those up [objections to the bill], and then Massachusetts’ election happened”) is a “stunning admission of incompetence.” So maybe the president does have a communications problem, after all. If you can’t read a calendar or follow election polls, you should keep it to yourself.

The Hill: “The House is unlikely to extend President George W. Bush’s cuts for taxpayers earning more than $250,000, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. … Allowing the tax breaks to expire at the end of the year will spark election-year criticism that Democrats are raising taxes. Congress approved the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Democrats are worried about losing seats in November’s midterm election, but Hoyer discounted the idea of his party losing seats solely because of a tax increase.” Well, he’s right — there is also all the red ink, ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and the sleazy backroom dealings.

Foaming at the mouth and comparing Republicans to Hitler is not such a winning TV-ratings combination anymore. Andrew Malcolm tells us: “Olbermann’s showboat is sinking. Listing in you-know-which direction. It’s as if he thinks talking LOUDER will keep his low cell battery from dying. Worst, Olbermann’s network president, Phil Griffin, is publicly praising him, always an ominous sign in television.”

Dana Perino reminds us: “The context in which the Bush administration was operating is important. President Bush authorized detaining terrorists as enemy combatants in November 2001, two months or so after 9/11. The Shoe Bomber was arrested in December 2001, only a month after President Bush’s order. At that point, there was no system in place to handle enemy combatants. … Perhaps the more interesting context is how months after the administration announced a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group they could not meet after Abdulmutallab’s attempt because … it hadn’t even been set up yet.”

Karl Rove points out: “The budget is filled with gimmicks. For example, the president is calling for a domestic, nonsecurity, discretionary spending freeze. But that freeze doesn’t apply to a $282 billion proposed second stimulus package. It also doesn’t apply to the $519 billion that has yet to be spent from the first stimulus bill. The federal civilian work force is also not frozen. It is projected to rise to 1.43 million employees in 2010, up from 1.2 million in 2008.” And it seems that the mainstream media and the public are increasingly on to this sort of stunt. That may account for all the Democratic retirements: “Democrats are in the midst of the painful realization: Mr. Obama’s words cannot save them from the power of bad ideas.”

But Obama is telling Senate Democrats that “I think the natural political instinct is to tread lightly, keep your head down and to play it safe.” Translation: go ahead, pass ObamaCare, and join Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, Chris Dodd, and Byron Dorgan. The president tells them “the answer is not to do nothing.” I think “nothing” is looking like the best of bad options for the beleaguered Senate Democrats, who are now contemplating a serious reduction in their ranks.

The gamesmanship finally ends: “Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown will be sworn in Thursday, according to Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Brown’s lawyer today asked that the election results in his state be immediately certified so that he can be sworn in right away. Initially Brown was scheduled to take office next week, but has since decided he wants to vote on upcoming nominations for solicitor general, the General Services Administration and the National Labor Relations Board.” That probably means that Harold Craig Becker’s nomination is in trouble.

Katie Couric will interview Obama live from the Super Bowl because we haven’t seen enough of him, and what he really needs is to communicate more with the American people. Well, that’s apparently what they think inside the White House cocoon. More cowbell!

Mickey Kaus thinks Obama’s excuse mongering about the health-care bill (“we were just about to clean those up [objections to the bill], and then Massachusetts’ election happened”) is a “stunning admission of incompetence.” So maybe the president does have a communications problem, after all. If you can’t read a calendar or follow election polls, you should keep it to yourself.

The Hill: “The House is unlikely to extend President George W. Bush’s cuts for taxpayers earning more than $250,000, Majority Leader Steny Hoyer (D-Md.) said Wednesday. … Allowing the tax breaks to expire at the end of the year will spark election-year criticism that Democrats are raising taxes. Congress approved the tax cuts in 2001 and 2003. Democrats are worried about losing seats in November’s midterm election, but Hoyer discounted the idea of his party losing seats solely because of a tax increase.” Well, he’s right — there is also all the red ink, ObamaCare, cap-and-trade, and the sleazy backroom dealings.

Foaming at the mouth and comparing Republicans to Hitler is not such a winning TV-ratings combination anymore. Andrew Malcolm tells us: “Olbermann’s showboat is sinking. Listing in you-know-which direction. It’s as if he thinks talking LOUDER will keep his low cell battery from dying. Worst, Olbermann’s network president, Phil Griffin, is publicly praising him, always an ominous sign in television.”

Dana Perino reminds us: “The context in which the Bush administration was operating is important. President Bush authorized detaining terrorists as enemy combatants in November 2001, two months or so after 9/11. The Shoe Bomber was arrested in December 2001, only a month after President Bush’s order. At that point, there was no system in place to handle enemy combatants. … Perhaps the more interesting context is how months after the administration announced a High Value Detainee Interrogation Group they could not meet after Abdulmutallab’s attempt because … it hadn’t even been set up yet.”

Karl Rove points out: “The budget is filled with gimmicks. For example, the president is calling for a domestic, nonsecurity, discretionary spending freeze. But that freeze doesn’t apply to a $282 billion proposed second stimulus package. It also doesn’t apply to the $519 billion that has yet to be spent from the first stimulus bill. The federal civilian work force is also not frozen. It is projected to rise to 1.43 million employees in 2010, up from 1.2 million in 2008.” And it seems that the mainstream media and the public are increasingly on to this sort of stunt. That may account for all the Democratic retirements: “Democrats are in the midst of the painful realization: Mr. Obama’s words cannot save them from the power of bad ideas.”

But Obama is telling Senate Democrats that “I think the natural political instinct is to tread lightly, keep your head down and to play it safe.” Translation: go ahead, pass ObamaCare, and join Martha Coakley, Jon Corzine, Creigh Deeds, Chris Dodd, and Byron Dorgan. The president tells them “the answer is not to do nothing.” I think “nothing” is looking like the best of bad options for the beleaguered Senate Democrats, who are now contemplating a serious reduction in their ranks.

The gamesmanship finally ends: “Massachusetts Senator-elect Scott Brown will be sworn in Thursday, according to Jim Manley, the spokesman for Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev. Brown’s lawyer today asked that the election results in his state be immediately certified so that he can be sworn in right away. Initially Brown was scheduled to take office next week, but has since decided he wants to vote on upcoming nominations for solicitor general, the General Services Administration and the National Labor Relations Board.” That probably means that Harold Craig Becker’s nomination is in trouble.

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Hysteria Doesn’t Vote

Barack Obama is being conned into a false sense of assurance by the hysteria of his supporters. If the Beatlemania shriek has become the call of the Obama fan, perhaps Hillary voters can be identified by the chirps of their electronic car locks. Though less impressive in a youtube sense, it’s this “pantsuit army” (as described by Mark Hemingway at NRO) that can be counted on to deliver in the long run.

Hysteria has a hard time finding its way to the polls. First, you have to stop quivering with exctiement long enough to fill out a voter registration form. Then you have to show up at an appointed place and time. And then—in an unthinkable turn of events for Obama’s click-crazed thirty-and-under legions—probably wait on a slow-moving line. Amber Lee Ettinger, for example, found the challenge of step two insurmountable. Better known as “Obama Girl” for her viral video serenade, Ettinger never got around to pulling the lever for the object of her affections last Tuesday. “I didn’t get a chance to vote today because I’m not registered to vote in New York,” she said. It turns out she would have had to travel all the way to New Jersey to do her civic duty, and the poor girl was too ill to make the trek .“I was in Arizona for the Super Bowl — every time I get in the airplane I get sick,” she explained. (There’s also the example of the Green Party/Jerry Garcia voter who showed up for a good time at the Grateful Dead Obama rally.)

It’s hard to imagine a soldier in Hillary’s pantsuit army getting sidelined by the sniffles. These working or single moms with a Sharpied “vote Hillary” on their refrigerator calendars are not likely to be deterred. There’s a clipboard efficiency to that demographic, not unlike the facts-and-figures campaign talk of their candidate. This affinity continues to grow, Hemingway reports, as Hillary seems to be gaining support among women voters. Similarly, Obama’s free-floating rhetoric seems to resonate most deeply with the feckless and leisured, who have better things (not) to do than show up on election day. This may be why his pre-primary poll numbers always seem to overstate the significance of his gains. Meanwhile, Hillary’s growing forces continue to hide in plain sight. And then actually vote.

Barack Obama is being conned into a false sense of assurance by the hysteria of his supporters. If the Beatlemania shriek has become the call of the Obama fan, perhaps Hillary voters can be identified by the chirps of their electronic car locks. Though less impressive in a youtube sense, it’s this “pantsuit army” (as described by Mark Hemingway at NRO) that can be counted on to deliver in the long run.

Hysteria has a hard time finding its way to the polls. First, you have to stop quivering with exctiement long enough to fill out a voter registration form. Then you have to show up at an appointed place and time. And then—in an unthinkable turn of events for Obama’s click-crazed thirty-and-under legions—probably wait on a slow-moving line. Amber Lee Ettinger, for example, found the challenge of step two insurmountable. Better known as “Obama Girl” for her viral video serenade, Ettinger never got around to pulling the lever for the object of her affections last Tuesday. “I didn’t get a chance to vote today because I’m not registered to vote in New York,” she said. It turns out she would have had to travel all the way to New Jersey to do her civic duty, and the poor girl was too ill to make the trek .“I was in Arizona for the Super Bowl — every time I get in the airplane I get sick,” she explained. (There’s also the example of the Green Party/Jerry Garcia voter who showed up for a good time at the Grateful Dead Obama rally.)

It’s hard to imagine a soldier in Hillary’s pantsuit army getting sidelined by the sniffles. These working or single moms with a Sharpied “vote Hillary” on their refrigerator calendars are not likely to be deterred. There’s a clipboard efficiency to that demographic, not unlike the facts-and-figures campaign talk of their candidate. This affinity continues to grow, Hemingway reports, as Hillary seems to be gaining support among women voters. Similarly, Obama’s free-floating rhetoric seems to resonate most deeply with the feckless and leisured, who have better things (not) to do than show up on election day. This may be why his pre-primary poll numbers always seem to overstate the significance of his gains. Meanwhile, Hillary’s growing forces continue to hide in plain sight. And then actually vote.

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Speaking of the Super Bowl’s impact…

…Looks like Mike Huckabee might have been inspired by Tom Petty’s halftime performance. If his speech in Arkansas is sincere, he “won’t back down.”

So much for my theory that Huckabee would turn his Super Tuesday successes over Romney into a face-saving, vice-presidential-nomination-pursuing, exit-in-strength strategy. That is, unless he’s waiting for Romney to exit first, thereby remaining in the race to block for McCain until California likely determines Romney’s fate.

…Looks like Mike Huckabee might have been inspired by Tom Petty’s halftime performance. If his speech in Arkansas is sincere, he “won’t back down.”

So much for my theory that Huckabee would turn his Super Tuesday successes over Romney into a face-saving, vice-presidential-nomination-pursuing, exit-in-strength strategy. That is, unless he’s waiting for Romney to exit first, thereby remaining in the race to block for McCain until California likely determines Romney’s fate.

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