Wednesday, February 04, 2009

Barack's Bad Day

(President Obama with a second-grade class at the Capital City Public Charter School in Washington, 2/3/09. Photo Credit: Larry Downing, Reuters)

The story is old at this point (blame my typist, of course), but the image is worth a thousand words and it hasn't gotten a lot of play, so we toss it up anyway. It accompanied Wa Po snark-meister Dana Milbank's piece this morning on the president and first lady's trip to a DC charter school yesterday to read to second graders after it was announced that Obama's nominees for chief performance officer (Nancy Killefer) and secretary of health and human services (Tom Daschle) had withdrawn from consideration for their posts because of tax problems. Obama went to the school and read the kids "The Moon Over Star," because, he said, "We were just tired of being in the White House."

To which Milbank quips, predictably yet deftly, "Good thing it wasn't 'My Pet Goat.'"

Good thing indeed.

Note to the New American President and to All Future American Presidents: Dontcha think that those awful pictures of Shrub on September 11 -- surrounded by kids and with a look at once vague and panic-stricken on his face -- emblazoned as they are in the nation's memory of that terrible day -- pretty much mean that no president should ever again be caught reading to schoolchildren? Seriously, guys. Don't you realize that seeing the president in that setting, if it doesn't trigger a national fit of post-traumatic stress disorder, will at a minimum invite viewers to see a resemblance between Mr. Obama and his hapless predecessor, especially if he lets his guard down in front of the cameras and allows himself to be photographed looking as weary, exasperated, and un-presidentially human as Obama looks in the photo above?

Mr. President, the cameras are never, never not on you. Cameras helped to make your candidacy, in part because you looked so at ease in front of them, but they can undermine your presidency if you are not careful. Two weeks into the job and nothing more than a couple of disappointing personnel snafus and -- oh, yeah, the small matter of global economic collapse -- on your mind, and you look like a guy who's already had enough.

"We were just tired of being in the White House." Wow. Really? Why do we think the new Belle of Foggy Bottom would never have said anything so ungracious about living in the people's house? Maybe that's why you made her the nation's chief diplomat. There's one personnel decision you didn't blow, Mr. President. Good call. Good call.


  1. Excellent observations, Rox. The Belle of Foggy Bottom would never say such a thing, and I'm kind of surprised that he allowed himself to be quoted saying he wanted out of the house he went to such extraordinary lengths (insisting that Michigan and Florida not be counted until it didn't matter anymore, for example) to move into. I wish his administration great success and will say that I've been quite surprised by their flat-footedness these past few days. In spite of the scolding regarding executive pay, he's looking more center right all the time (appointing Judd Gregg?), which doesn't surprise me, but seems to surprise many.

    Beware pet goats, Mr. President.

  2. Anonymous12:46 PM EST

    Rox, this is interesting, and I like that you took it up, regardless of delay -- the photo-op WAS vaguely annoying -- and now I know why! Thanks. Much sympathy for your typist!

  3. Thanks, EI. We're gettin' pretty worried around here about the whole stimulus package fiasco. So far, the vaunted Obama political machine seems to be getting its backside kicked by the deader than dead GOP. How is that possible? What shall we do? When will they figure out that "bipartisanship" = Dems caving in to craptastically bad Republican ideas?

  4. Goose will weigh in here again to say that the sycophants surrounding Obama have not done him any favors. Though some Republicans and Dems in the Senate are forging a compromise, this sure doesn't feel like the President or the Dems won the election. They've lost control of the message, and even in his irritation, all Obama says is still being framed by the opposition. Amazing. I'm really surprised. Sycophants don't do one any favors. . . .


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