Memewatch: Obama is really a poor communicator

It’s not an accident that so many righties settled on the “Obama is boring” meme this morning. The idea of attacking what is perceived to be Obama’s greatest strength — his ability as a communicator — has been brewing for a while. It’s what all the yammering about the teleprompter is about. It’s what all the hand-wringing about Obama’s jokes is about. And they’ve already phrased it in the convenient Slate/TNR contrarian “myth-busting” form that media types love so much (Ben Smith gushed over this piece):

2. Obama is a great communicator. Cut away the soaring rhetoric in his speeches, and the resulting policy statements are often vague, lawyerly and confusing. He is not plain-spoken: He parses his language so much that a casual listener will miss important caveats. That’s in part why he uses teleprompters for routine policy statements: He chooses his words carefully, relying heavily on ill-defined terms like “deficit reduction” (which means tax increases, rather than actual “savings”) and “combat troops” (as opposed to “all troops in harm’s way”).

[…..]

4. Obama is smooth. Despite being deliberate, Obama is surprisingly gaffe-prone. Reporters on my e-mail lists last year know he consistently mispronounced, misnamed or altogether forgot where he was. (In one typical gaffe in Sioux Falls, S.D., he started his speech with an enthusiastic “Thank you, Sioux City!”) His geographic gaffes are not just at routine rallies but at major events, including the Democratic National Convention and his first address to Congress. Any politician occasionally misspeaks, but the frequency of Obama’s flubs is notable.

This is a classic Rovean technique — attacking your opponent where he is strongest. I happen to think it is a smart technique in many cases. I’m skeptical whether “Obama is teh boring” will work right now, because the public is more focused on the next paycheck than on whether or not they find Obama’s pressers entertaining.

But make no mistake: right-wing media types will be pushing this hard over the next few months. And when even a pretty good reporter like Ben Smith is eating it up, you can bet we’ll be hearing a lot about it in the media.

(By the way, while Michael Wolff probably doesn’t qualify as a right-wing hack (although he certainly does enjoy fellating Rupert Murdoch), this piece is pretty remarkable.)

Update. This weirds me out a little:  Michael Scherer of all people nails the teleprompter “issue”.

I don’t really get all this gabbing about Obama and his teleprompter. Does anyone really doubt Obama’s ability to speak cogently and in detail without notes, after winning three presidential debates and slaying just about every press availability he gets? So he likes reading from a screen and not a piece of paper. But this whole line of attack, promoted widely by conservative blogs, sort of baffles me. And does anyone stop to think about how all this back and forth is effecting the feelings of the computer that powers Obama’s teleprompter? Well, I have, but that’s only because I have been reading the teleprompter’s blog and Twitter feed.

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200 replies
  1. 1
    cleek says:

    the problem with this meme is that Obama’s not actually boring. and you can see that by simply watching him.

    but if the GOP wants to further alienate themselves from mainstream USA, i won’t stop them.

  2. 2
    bago says:

    TELEPROMPTERZ!

    (There. Got it out of my system.)

  3. 3
    Rick Taylor says:

    I’m skeptical whether “Obama is teh boring” will work right now, because the public is more focused on the next paycheck than on whether or not they find Obama’s pressers entertaining.

    I don’t know about the general public, but I feel ill when I hear criticisms like that. With the economy collapsing we don’t really care if you feel entertained or not while your (well paid) job. If you’re bored, please quit and find some other more entertaining line of work.

  4. 4
    jibeaux says:

    "Gaffe-prone" because he called Sioux Falls Sioux City.

    It’s almost as if Bush was a victim of the soft bigotry of low expectations. Or Obama is a victim of EXPECTATIONS THAT ARE IMPOSSIBLE FOR MERE MORTALS TO MEET.

  5. 5
    Ricky Bobby says:

    In forty years history will be wondering who the silly little fucks were that opposed Obama’s administration whilst it was turning the country from bad to good, and what the hell they could have been arguing about when they opposed him.

    Great men doing important things > little GOP loudmouths

  6. 6
    jerry 101 says:

    I doubt it will work, because the public has seen Obama be "boring" before, just as it’s seen him be exciting.

    He is a great speaker, and knows how to tailor his speaking style to subject of the speech and the mood of his audience.

    If he needs to deliver a lecture, explaining what’s going down, people may not be standing up and cheering, but they will pay attention.

    They are trying very, very hard right now to bring down his "great speaker" credentials. The meme has been building since Bobby Jindal crashed and burned in his big speech.

    I think they believed that Bobby was gonna be well received and they believed he was a going to show up as a great speaker, so they’d have their anti-obama. Since he Failed, they have to go with another plan, which is the old attempt to strike your enemy’s strong point.

    Of course, Obama’s happy to take it to the people on a regular basis, so the meme won’t be able to survive. The hard right will believe it, but the rest of America will scratch their heads and say to the wingnuts "huh? not a good speaker? you’re weird."

  7. 7
    Shinobi says:

    I have found that many times when people claim things are "boring" it is because they just aren’t smart enough to understand it.

    Maybe the problem is just all those big fancy words like "hope" and "change" that make it impossible to follow him.

  8. 8
    Ricky Bobby says:

    Almost forgot, "Teh Prez as Entertainer in Chief" will gain no traction anywhere outside the Village.

    Clap louder!!!

  9. 9
    Starfish says:

    Why inflate Rove by calling it a Rovean tactic? It is a standard business tactic to find a weakness near the core of your opponent’s strength.

  10. 10
    Svensker says:

    (By the way, while Michael Wolff probably doesn’t qualify as a right-wing hack (although he certainly does enjoy fellating Rupert Murdoch), this piece is pretty remarkable.)

    Remarkable ain’t the word. What’s shocking is to read the comments and hear everyone agree that Obama is stupid, shallow, an "affirmative action" president, out of his depth, etc. These people really are on a different planet.

  11. 11
    r€nato says:

    shorter right-wing hacks:

    "OBAMA TALKS LIKE A FAG!"

  12. 12
    The Other Steve says:

    (In one typical gaffe in Sioux Falls, S.D., he started his speech with an enthusiastic “Thank you, Sioux City!”)

    LOL! I live in the region, and I still mess those up.

  13. 13
    NonyNony says:

    @cleek:

    the problem with this meme is that Obama’s not actually boring. and you can see that by simply watching him.

    This is exactly right. Attacks about "teleprompters" and "gaffes" are more likely to stick than attacks about "being boring" – he’s not a boring speaker. (The gaffe attacks will start to stick more as we get further and further away from the Bush years – right now anyone who hears "Obama stumbles over words" is thinking "I dunno – I haven’t heard any ‘misunderestimating’ or ‘can’t be fooled again’ level gaffes from him yet").

    What’s more, the bullet point #2 is written by someone who has the assumption that the American people are all children and need to be talked down to in simplistic catch phrases and slogans. This is, in my experience, false. Most people don’t like to be treated like idiots. And one of the things that Obama gets a lot of goodwill for from people I’ve spoken to across all social classes is that he’s willing to treat the American citizenry like adults to be convinced instead of children to be lectured at in sound bites. What these pundits are calling "lawyerly and confusing" or "boring" is being recognized by a lot of folks as "not assuming I’m an idiot" and being accepted graciously as such.

  14. 14
    bago says:

    Jindal of the "Volcano Monitoring" fame has had that blow up in his face.

    And seriously, the script you have for doing preview is very flawed. It stripped out everything before the second anchor tag. The HTML I used is well formed.

  15. 15
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    This is great news for McCain!

  16. 16
    r€nato says:

    this is an attack which will gain no traction outside the right-wing reality distortion sphere.

    all you have to do is watch the guy talk. He’s not boring, and I’m thrilled that we have a president who has a very, very good grasp of, say, tax policy and has the ability to explain it to average folks in a way they can relate to.

    You want the POTUS to entertain you? Then elect a clown. Oh, wait, we just got rid of one of those.

  17. 17
    r€nato says:

    i swear to FSM i did not click "Submit" twice.

  18. 18
    MattF says:

    But there’s a line between ‘contrarian’ and ‘not paying attention to reality’. After all, a strategy of insisting that something has to be false just because everyone thinks it’s true has certain… inherent risks.

  19. 19
    El Cid says:

    Excuse me — which Preznit ever gave succinct, purely factual responses at press conferences focusing on policy details?

    Answer: None. It isn’t what they do.

    Moron brigade. Buckets provided by FOXNOOZ.

  20. 20
    Brian J says:

    Shorter Response to Obama’s Speeches and Statements:

    If we just pound on him for small mistakes and pretend we don’t know what terms like "deficit reduction" mean, we don’t have to think about what he says. Then we can skip out on actually learning how to consider and report on the issues in an informative way.

    Seriously, what a pile of horseshit. It’s the equivalent of having a really attractive, intelligent, educated, charming spouse but not getting the over the fact that she forgets to set up the coffee pot for the next morning, except that they are focused on things that really don’t matter, as they aren’t big problems or even problems at all. These assholes really expect us to give a shit that he mispronounces the city he’s in and has loyal advisers that agree with him?

    I really, I just can’t. The stupid burns too much.

  21. 21
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    @bago:

    Jindal of the "Volcano Monitoring" fame has had that blow up in his face.

    And people say God has no sense of humor!

  22. 22
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @r€nato:

    And his press conference preempted Ow! My Balls! That was not cool!

  23. 23
    r€nato says:

    one of the things that Obama gets a lot of goodwill for from people I’ve spoken to across all social classes is that he’s willing to treat the American citizenry like adults

    abso-fucking-lutely. After 8 years of Bush/Cheney constantly pissing on our shoes and telling us it’s a gentle spring shower, Americans are thrilled to have a president who forthrightly takes responsibility and whose first instinct is NOT to snow-job us at every turn.

  24. 24
    Corner Stone says:

    The meme has been building since Bobby Jindal crashed and burned in his big speech.

    I think they believed that Bobby was gonna be well received and they believed he was a going to show up as a great speaker, so they’d have their anti-obama.

    IMO, someone set Bobby up to fail. No matter how many times Rush pounds the table and demands people say Jindal was fantastic – he just wasn’t. It was awkward and awful and everyone who saw 15 seconds of it knew it.

  25. 25

    The problem with this particular Rovian technique is that ordinary Americans can’t back to Vietnam 1969 and see for themselves what John Kerry was doing.

    They can’t go down to that school district in Florida and see if there were enough desks for the students, like Al Gore said.

    However, they most certainly can watch his performance at a press conference, town hall event, or presidential debate, and see that he is neither boring nor awkward, but rather, a very effective, convincing communicator.

    These people really believe that they have the power to alter objective reality by saying untrue things. It’s really something to watch.

  26. 26
    Brian J says:

    abso-fucking-lutely. After 8 years of Bush/Cheney repeatedly pissing on our shoes and telling us it’s a gentle spring shower, Americans are thrilled to have a president who forthrightly takes responsibility and whose first instinct is NOT to snow-job us at every turn.

    Just from my memory, I can recall two times when Obama has accepted responsbility for something bad happening. Specifically, I’m referring to Daschle’s tax issues and the problems with AIG bonuses. He said, simply, "The buck stops here," meaning his office.

    That’s approximately two more times than I ever remember Bush doing something like that.

  27. 27
    ATB says:

    @jibeaux:

    "Gaffe-prone" because he called Sioux Falls Sioux City.

    What the hell. I had a Countdown Calendar with 365 of GW’s most infamous gaffes. Tearing those pages off every morning put a smile on my face.

  28. 28

    Uh, it didn’t start this morning. It started a year ago.

    A year ago, he couldn’t form a sentence without a teleprompter, and because of his allegiance to Rev. Wright, his campaign was over.

    Then he wasn’t ready to lead, and then later he was losing ground to the electrifying Sarah Palin and her sidekick, what’s his name.

    Oh, he won the election by almost ten million votes.

    Tell me again why this fascination with losers’ obsessions is worth our time?

    I think I missed a meeting.

  29. 29
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    Keep clapping! Louder!

  30. 30
    r€nato says:

    These people really believe that they have the power to alter objective reality by saying untrue things. It’s really something to watch.

    I hope they keep it up. The longer they spend detached from reality, the longer they stay out of power.

    They’ve been running against the 1970s era Democrats for 30 years now. Democrats are running the show and once they show results, the right-wing attacks will become increasingly irrelevant. Especially to people who are 30 or under, who simply could not give a shit about anything that happened before 1980.

  31. 31
    Dungheap says:

    So on Sunday Obama was taken to task for ironically laughing during an interview and on Tuesday he’s taken to task for being too damn serious at a press conference?

    This isn’t Rovian. This is the McCain Campaign Redux. Rove would have found a message and stuck with it. This is just throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks.

  32. 32

    Uh, it didn’t start this morning. It started a year ago.
    A year ago, he couldn’t form a sentence without a teleprompter…

    and then, after he convincingly beat McCain in three straight debates, they dropped the line, because it was so implausible. Except now, it’s back.

    @ Scruffy McSnufflepuss

    That’s it, exactly. This is other side of the "clap louder" coin.

  33. 33
    Faux News says:

    TELEPROMPTERZ!

    (There. Got it out of my system.)

    Cool. Now go have a cigarette. I sensed a Palin like starburst in your post.

    BTW you just totally wiped out a post from Paul L. by beating him to the punch. Many thanks!

  34. 34
    geg6 says:

    Most people don’t like to be treated like idiots. And one of the things that Obama gets a lot of goodwill for from people I’ve spoken to across all social classes is that he’s willing to treat the American citizenry like adults to be convinced instead of children to be lectured at in sound bites. What these pundits are calling "lawyerly and confusing" or "boring" is being recognized by a lot of folks as "not assuming I’m an idiot" and being accepted graciously as such

    I couldn’t agree more. Even my few remaining sane GOP friends say this. And acknowledge that it’s a skill that the Shrub sadly lacked. And, if I promise never to tell, will ashamedly admit that W was an embarrassing clown, which is what makes me consider them sane.

  35. 35
    r€nato says:

    I think they believed that Bobby was gonna be well received and they believed he was a going to show up as a great speaker, so they’d have their anti-obama.

    The GOP answer to Hillary Clinton:

    "Americans want tits? Hey, we got tits! Say hello to Sarah Palin!"

    The GOP answer to Barack Obama:

    "Americans want colored folks? Hey, we got colored folks! Say hello to Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele!"

    The GOP answer to Obama’s winning campaign:

    "Obama won because of social networking technology? Hey, John McCain has a Twitter account!"

    When are these ‘tards Special Olympics competitors going to learn that the problem is the message, not the messenger?

    (well, their messengers suck pretty badly too)

  36. 36

    This isn’t Rovian. This is the McCain Campaign Redux. Rove would have found a message and stuck with it. This is just throwing everything against the wall and seeing what sticks.

    Correct. They can’t keep a consistent message going for more than two days, and if the line they come up with today contradicts what they were saying yesterday – Obama’s a celebrity with no experience! Hey, look Sarah Palin! – they just throw it out anyway.

    In the end, nobody can remember anything they said.

  37. 37
    Michael says:

    He’s an atheist muslim socialist Kenyan dual citizen in the pocket of the Wall Street elites who routed all their money to him. He also can’t speak well and has a slick operation where he speaks well only because he has a teleprompter. And don’t forget that he’s a radical third worlder idiot whose slutty negro loving single mom set up this thing with a conspiracy in Hawaii from the time he was born.

    /wingnut

    Y’know, I saw a FReak this morning actually express the opinion that the guy who comes out of the birth certificate drama as President is….

    Dick Cheney.

  38. 38
    Zifnab says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    and then, after he convincingly beat McCain in three straight debates, they dropped the line, because it was so implausible. Except now, it’s back.

    Hurray for zombie lies! This is just like when Ronald Regan warned us about welfare queens in their government subsidized Cadillacs, or when Bush found all those WMDs in Iraq that were ready to be shipped to Osama bin Laden, or when the price of oil dropped $3 / gallon by getting millions of Americans to chant "Drill, Baby, Drill" in an entirely non-sexual context.

    Republicans are in the party of great new ideas, dontcha know!

  39. 39
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Why do we care what these people think, anyway?

  40. 40
    curtis says:

    As a conservative, I don’t find Obama "gaffe-prone" necessarily (although he’s clearly made a few, just like anyone else). He’s certainly not as gaffe-prone as Biden. And neither of them, obviously, are nearly as gaffe-prone as Bush. And there’s always the fact that, even at his worst, Obama is still infinitely more pleasant to listen to than Bush at his best.

    Having said that, I don’t think you can necessarily call his off-the-cuff style "exciting" or "interesting". Obama has a tendency to spout tangential blather in a dull monotone, and wanders, rhetorically. His brilliance is in delivering, not in improvising, an address– something that was painfully clear last night when he transitioned from "President reading off screen" to "President answering questions".

    In terms of how this affects how ordinary Americans view him, I can’t imagine that the wide gulf between him and Bush isn’t obvious, and I’m sure that Americans would rather listen to Obama. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t think he’s still boring– his rather annoying capacity to pause and utter "uh" ever few seconds (a bad habit that he is gradually correcting, I might add) is of particular note, as is the fact that, no matter how eloquent he is, Obama’s still essentially competing against American Idol. I doubt very many people would choose to hear professorial lecturing after a long days work over that.

    The bottom line is that Obama has been overly-hyped by the left for his entire time as both a candidate and as President. That he doesn’t meet those lofty predictions is obvious, and that doesn’t in and of itself make him a bad President by any means (although his Bush-like tendency to balloon the deficit does).

    But it does suggest that you guys might want to tone down the Obama synchophantism. Its doing more harm than good.

  41. 41
    Martin says:

    I have found that many times when people claim things are "boring" it is because they just aren’t smart enough to understand it.

    That’s not it here. They called it boring because there was nothing to attack. They have nothing to write about – so anything *they* would write would be boring. They’re pundits. They don’t want a leader, they want someone to voice opinions against and Obama just isn’t giving them any real material to work with in this climate. Obama is boring because there’s no blowjob, there’s no axis of evil, there’s no human/animal hybrids, no accusations that Canada is building an anthrax bomb, etc. They only thing he gives them is the opportunity to refute that their readers aren’t sacrificing and that we want someone who will speak before they know what the fuck they’re talking about.

    Like I said yesterday, Democrats aren’t communicating poorly, but if all people tune into are pundits and bloggers with an agenda, then of course you are going to get the impression that the plan is misunderstood because these guys actually work hard to misunderstand it. The most exciting opinions come when you can turn a plan to expand food stamps by 3% into the first part of a plot to turn the US into a substate of North Korea.

  42. 42
    bootlegger says:

    @NonyNony:

    Most people don’t like to be treated like idiots.

    Apparently the commentors over there do like to be treated like idiots. Well now we no where the kids in school who picked on the smart kids ended up.

  43. 43
    bayville says:

    What would a right wing meme be without a contribution from Ron Fournier?

    Great headline to his "Analysis", too:

    Teleprompter telegraphs Obama caution

  44. 44
    DougJ says:

    Why do we care what these people think, anyway?

    Because they still have fairly large viewerships, sadly.

  45. 45
    geg6 says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    Tell me again why this fascination with losers’ obsessions is worth our time?

    I don’t know about you, but I’m certainly old enough to remember when those of us with liberal leanings were quite smug and above it all about our intellectual and ideological superiority that we paid no attention to how the message was being received and interpreted. And that is exactly what got us into 30 years of political Siberia. I believe it’s extremely important to not only read and listen to what the other side, no matter how unhinged they may be, is using to try to counteract my side. That’s how you make sure you are targeting your arguments more surely and addressing anything the public might find a reasonable argument against you. Ignoring this stuff is how you end up with campaigns like that of Michael Dukakis, Al Gore, and John Kerry.

  46. 46
    Shinobi says:

    Martin,

    I know, I just wanted to call them dumb.

  47. 47
    gbear says:

    But there’s a line between ‘contrarian’ and ‘not paying attention to reality’.

    No there isn’t.

  48. 48
    Ash Can says:

    @ThymeZoneThePlumber:

    Tell me again why this fascination with losers’ obsessions is worth our time?

    It gets us ahead of the curve on media narratives. Not a cure for cancer or anything, but it precludes getting blindsided by WTF stuff and provides some insight into the way the mass media work.

  49. 49
    GSD says:

    The media is livid that President Obama shoves their face in the shit of their own growing irrelevence.

    By snubbing the main dead tree media (Notice he picked the cult-leader run far right-wing Washington Times) President Obama is telling these dicksmackers that the rules have changed.

    Why kowtow to lamers like the Wapoo, NYT and the rest when he can get more bang from his presser by choosing Univision, which reaches many, many more people. Plus it also sends racist cavemen like Buchanan over the cliff. Teh Spanish oh noes!

    Keep up the good work, these media clownholes are squirming and can’t take the heat.

    Remember, in the past week we’ve learned that Obama was unserious about the financial crisis by laughing too much on 60 Minutes while we learned that he was unwilling to play an unserious clown for the media at the Gridiron and now we learn that Obama was apparently boring at this presser, but in the heat of being boring he was "lashing out" at the media.

    What a bunch of mental cases.

    -GSD

  50. 50
    Brachiator says:

    This is a classic Rovean technique—attacking your opponent where he is strongest. I happen to think it is a smart technique in many cases.

    The only problem with this technique is that it insults the average person’s intelligence, and here it always fails. Obama is a good communicator and he conveys a sense of warmth and understanding. In a similar way, Reagan was a good communicator despite his gaffes and use of a teleprompter.

    In casual conversations with people, I note that committed Obama haters will view his speech negatively no matter what, while people who don’t have ideological crosses to bear don’t even bother to engage these people and just move on, noting that Obama seems reasonable. As others have noted, these people are just looking for their lives to get better, and don’t care about political infighting.

    This Rovean technique failed miserably when they tried to use it against Clinton. They even resorted to trying to tell people that they didn’t understand why impeaching Clinton was so necessary to the nation. But people understood very well, and discounted the attacks. Clinton’s approval rating was consistently high during this period.

    The GOP thinks that their Obama attacks are working because the only feedback they get are from conservative ideologues and people who are fear of Obama is rooted in their own insecurities and personal demons. And this last includes a few reporters, who clearly are uncomfortable with Obama because of their own problems with race. They remind me of a colleague who had no problem working with non-whites as co-workers, but who could not deal with non-whites or women who were his boss.

    I’m skeptical whether “Obama is teh boring” will work right now, because the public is more focused on the next paycheck than on whether or not they find Obama’s pressers entertaining.

    Oh, how I wish that Obama would go "Goodfellas" on these goons. "Entertaining? What, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you?"

  51. 51
    valdivia says:

    Not that reason and rationality has anything to do with how these people think but this analysis by Fallows on the whole teleprompter thing is worth a read.

  52. 52
    Scruffy McSnufflepuss says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    Why do we care what these people think, anyway?

    Because this is really a center-right country; these speak for the "silent majority"/Zogby pollees among us; and the only reason the Democrats won in 2006 and 2008 is because of a combination of ACORN shenanigans and the conservatives failing their principles by not cutting taxes enough/not clapping loudly enough.

  53. 53
    4K says:

    It sure reminds of "Real Time with Bill Maher" from 2 weeks ago when Andrew Breitbart is making all of kinds of "childish and surly faces" when Michael Eric Dyson is making an eloquent point (he made MANY) then says unashamedly "this is why I graduated college drunk… the professors just start talking all mumbo jumbo and you can’t understand them" or soemthing like that.

    Too many people are taking pride in their own ignorance.
    Here’s an idea, the next time you hear some words you don’t know what they mean you could grab a DICTIONARY and look it up ( I realize I just lost the Breitbarts of the world).

    I grow weary of hearing folks who claim they have NO TIME to read.

    America NEEDS to change it’s attitude about reading AND learning. The next time you find yourself in a situation where you need help with something try to resist the urge to ask someone else to do it for you before you have tried to figure it out yourself. Try to ask for guidance towards finding a solution instead of just asking for the answer itself.

    I’ll bet you find it far MORE rewarding when you succeed.

  54. 54
    DougJ says:

    Oh, how I wish that Obama would go “Goodfellas” on these goons. “Entertaining? What, I’m here to fuckin’ amuse you?”

    I’d like to hear him answer the question and then say “Now go get your fucking shoeshine box.”

  55. 55

    Plus, it’s fun watching them self-destruct. Sort of a combination of anthropology and rubbernecking at a car crash.

  56. 56
    mistermix says:

    I agree with DougJ’s take on the noise machine, but even the supposedly "serious" media writes the same kind of thing, with the stupid knob turned down a wee bit. Take a look at the first two graphs of the NYT’s take on Obama’s pc.

    WASHINGTON — For just under an hour on Tuesday night, Americans saw not the fiery and inspirational speaker who riveted the nation in his address to Congress last month, or the conversational president who warmly engaged Americans in talks across the country, or even the jaunty and jokey president who turned up on Jay Leno.
    Instead, in his second prime-time news conference from the White House, it was Barack Obama the lecturer, a familiar character from early in the campaign. Placid and unsmiling, he was the professor in chief, offering familiar arguments in long paragraphs — often introduced with the phrase, “as I said before” — sounding like the teacher speaking in the stillness of a classroom where students are restlessly waiting for the ring of the bell.

    Did the theater critic and DC bureau chief switch jobs?

  57. 57
    KCinDC says:

    Michael Wolff probably doesn’t qualify as a right-wing hack

    Taking that piece into consideration, I’ll have to assume he is until presented with clear evidence to the contrary. As I read on, I kept hoping it would turn out to be some sort of joke. Maybe the guy’s trying his hand as a spoof?

  58. 58
    bayville says:

    Did the theater critic and DC bureau chief switch jobs?

    Great line.
    And BTW, poor, poor Perry Bacon is getting hammered right now at the WaPo chat about Henry and Todd.

  59. 59
    Xecky Gilchrist says:

    @Brachiator: The only problem with this technique is that it insults the average person’s intelligence, and here it always fails. Obama is a good communicator and he conveys a sense of warmth and understanding.

    And there you have it – the way to fight a reichtard meme is to make it clear that it’s not true. For a long time, the Democrats’ response to Redoublechin smears is to either just deny it in words (or worse, to acquiesce) – but if you deny it in actions, people notice.

  60. 60
    r€nato says:

    Paul Begala nails it (over at CNN.com):

    The Republicans are like an arsonist who complains that the fire department is wasting water.

  61. 61
    Mike in NC says:

    Had to wade through that entire article to see the fine print at the bottom:

    Alex Conant is a communications consultant who served as the Republican National Committee’s national press secretary during the 2008 presidential campaign. Previously, he was a spokesman at the White House and in the U.S. Senate.

    So now he’s a resident GOP hack at Politico. Thanks for the warning.

  62. 62
    Cat Lady says:

    OT, but Perry Bacon at the WaPo chat just let us know that Chuck Todd’s question was not to "crowd-please" in any way, it was just to get a response from Obama, and that’s their job. Entirely appropriate.

    OK? So shut up.

  63. 63
    r€nato says:

    The only problem with this technique is that it insults the average person’s intelligence, and here it always fails. Obama is a good communicator and he conveys a sense of warmth and understanding. In a similar way, Reagan was a good communicator despite his gaffes and use of a teleprompter.

    even my mother – a hard-core Republican who hates Ted Kennedy and thinks Bill Clinton never did anything good during his time in office – has nice things to say about Obama and liked his press conference yesterday.

    When Obama is reaching people like that, the GOP is truly screwed and right-wing pundit ‘up is down’ rhetoric is only going to make them sound even more irrelevant.

  64. 64

    I wish someone would ask Obama if he believes "white america" put Aids in the black community!
    I now believe Clinton is correct… Obama does think you can fix everything with a speech. Now we can see why Obama”s wife hates America and calls Americans "sloths" and says we are all "mean". They are both disgusting and he should never be President of a country they apparently have so much disdain for.

    One year ago. A Huffpo comment.

    And we are still paying attention to these people?

  65. 65
    DougJ says:

    Did the theater critic and DC bureau chief switch jobs?

    Always a good question. Frank Rich at the Times made his bones as a theater critic. The food critic at the Times — Frank Bruni — made his slobbering all over Bush in the 2000 campaign.

  66. 66
    MikeJ says:

    "I watched that Les Quatre Cents Coups movie you raved about. Not one person got beat up, never mind 400!"

  67. 67
    Francis says:

    As a lawyer who represents small public agencies, let me assure you that a lot of governance is BOTH deadly boring and deadly serious.

    I expect that virtually everyone reading this blog has a reliable supply of affordable potable water; turn on the tap and there it is. But for the readers who live in the West (I know nothing about eastern states’ water systems) ensuring that the water is there all the time takes a tremendous amount of really tedious work.

    Turning to the banking problem, if the US puts more banks into receivership, what happens is that the FDIC writes down some losses, sells off some assets, then finds a buyer for the remaining business, then EATS THE LOSS. For an entity as large as Citi, the only possible buyer would be turning senior debtholders into shareholders. In the Geithner plan, the FDIC still EATS THE LOSS. Will the plan work? Will the new, speculative money coming in provide the capital needed to keep the banks afloat?

    The devil is in the details. Making an informed guess as to the merits of the plan as compared to nationalization requires a comprehensive and deadly tedious analysis of the mechanics of the proposal. Kind of like reading about assessment districts for water agencies.

    But a working banking system is just about as important as safe, affordable and reliable water. It’s just that understanding precisely how they work just really isn’t all that exciting.

  68. 68
    Maude says:

    @Scruffy McSnufflepuss: Did anyone else catch Obama’s mention of Mc Cain in the bit about defense appropriations? It was subtle and wonderful. Obama was explaining where they would cut waste and included McCain as someone who was concerned about it. It was a reference to the helicopter dust up.

  69. 69
    bayville says:

    Frank Rich at the Times made his bones as a theater critic. The food critic at the Times—Frank Bruni—made his slobbering all over Bush in the 2000 campaign.

    Frank Rich was, and still is, one of the most hated men on Broadway (and for good reason). As for Bruni, Somerby has mountains of examples of his incompetence in The Daily Howler archives.

  70. 70
    schrodinger's cat says:

    Because they still have fairly large viewerships, sadly.

    In spite of their viewerships, Obama still won, didn’t he? May be not as many people are falling for their crap. I for one think that Republicans and their water carriers in the media are not connecting like they used to. They will always have 30% of the people who thought Bush was doing a great job until the end of his term, but many moderates (even Republicans) are not buying this stuff any more.

  71. 71
    DougJ says:

    @Francis

    Thanks for this great comment. I may turn it into a post by quoting it verbatim. It’s a very important point.

  72. 72
    inthewoods says:

    @r€nato: That is fucking genius.

  73. 73
    CalD says:

    I often wonder how many full-time PR people the DNC employs, versus the RNC and whether there’s any possibility the DNC might be able to hire away any of the RNC’s people away. The Democrats always seem hopelessly outclassed when it comes to getting their message out.

    Republicans have learned through a long string of PR successes (albeit, very few of any other kind) that the three "R’s" of moving public opinion are repetition, repetition, and repetition. They are relentlessly on message, understand the importance of dumbing down any issue until it fits on a bumper sticker and never, ever pass up an opportunity to get in front of a camera and recite their asinine talking points. Say whatever you like about this, but it works.

    In the short term, attacking someone on their strengths probably works best when the attacker still has a shred of credibility themselves, also when there isn’t a lot of evidence to the contrary immediately in view. But over time, get enough different people to repeat anything enough times and even otherwise intelligent people can start to buy into it, in spite of their own better judgment, however ridiculous the idea may be.

    Democrats, conversely, are often too prone to thinking it’s enough to be right (or at least righter than the Right) and have an often fatal tendency to insist on treating voters as adults. It also doesn’t help that so many on the Left half of the political spectrum seem so peevishly ready and willing to pile on their own people at the drop of a hat. The good news for now is that Republican infighting currently seems to degrading their own, normally remarkable ability to speak with one voice, at least to some extent.

  74. 74
    DougJ says:

    In spite of their viewerships, Obama still won, didn’t he?

    I think their influence is a large part of why we didn’t have as good a stimulus bill as we should have. And that’s just one example.

    I wish I could be as optimistic about their lack of influence as you and TZ are, but I can’t. I just don’t believe it.

  75. 75
    Chris G. says:

    Another huge problem with this meme is that we already elected Obama. This completely undercuts the attack: Even if he were a lousy speaker who’d won by 10 million votes, the election results clearly show that people have already discounted that as a criteria for judging Obama. Since he’s not a lousy speaker, the attack is incoherent, because people see Obama and realize he’s not a lousy speaker.

  76. 76
    John PM says:

    @Francis: #63.

    Exactly! Governing, just like litigating, is not very exciting. Speaking as a litigator, 99% of preparing a case for trial, and trying a case, is tedious at best, and more often than not mind-numbing. Governing is not Mr. Smith goes to Washington, and litigating is not like Boston Legal. A lot of long hours go into creating a good bill or law, and into adequately preparing a case for trial. Those who do not realize this and who cannot do the work make bad legislators and bad lawyers.

  77. 77
    Zifnab says:

    @DougJ:

    I think their influence is a large part of why we didn’t have as good a stimulus bill as we should have. And that’s just one example.

    The GOP is the reason we don’t have a better stimulus bill, end of story. If the GOP has been feeding zombie lies and bullshit into the MSM, that’s only a symptom of the root problem. But while the news cycles give Republicans cover for bullshit like the 188-man united GOP anti-stimulus front, it is ultimately McConnell and Boehner and their allies and handlers who are making this happen.

    You’ve got some powerful business interests that don’t want to see America escape the debt traps they’ve spent the last 20 years building. Even if it drags the entire economy down in the process.

  78. 78

    @DougJ

    I think their influence is a large part of why we didn’t have as good a stimulus bill as we should have. And that’s just one example.
    I wish I could be as optimistic about their lack of influence as you and TZ are, but I can’t. I just don’t believe it.

    Agreed, we need to keep beating on the Republicans, they’re treacherous little fucks who will shiv you in the kidneys if you turn your back on them for so much as a second. The best way to understand the Republicans is to remember Winston Churchill’s famous quote about the Germans, "The Hun is either at your throat or at your feet". We need to smack the Republicans down even further to make sure that they stay at our feet and aren’t going for our throats. We’re only 63 days into this thing and we’ve got a long ways to go.

  79. 79
    r€nato says:

    It’s not an accident that so many righties settled on the “Obama is boring” meme this morning.

    shorter rat-wing:

    Dwayne Elizondo Mountain Dew Herbert Camacho for President!

  80. 80
    Davis X. Machina says:

    I have a sneaking suspicion that the great unwashed masses will be grateful to have a President whose public appearances, even if ‘boring’, aren’t the rhetorical version of Mr. Toad’s Wild Ride.

    And as I tell students, the book isn’t boring. The boredom is intrinsic to the reader.

    It is meaningless to say "Pride and Prejudice is boring." One can only say "Pride and Prejudice bored me", or "I was bored when I read Pride and Prejudice."

  81. 81
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @DougJ
    I do agree that these people have far too much influence over our national discourse and that is indeed disheartening, but these are minor matters when I think of the bullet we dodged if the not "that one" had become president. May be there is a ceiling cat after all.

  82. 82
    Zifnab says:

    @Davis X. Machina: Well, I can. It just depends on what I’m trying to sell.

  83. 83
    r€nato says:

    And as I tell students, the book isn’t boring. The boredom is intrinsic to the reader.

    well, I suppose there is somebody in the world who does not find John Galt’s million-page-long monologue boring.

  84. 84
    NonyNony says:

    @r€nato:

    When Obama is reaching people like that, the GOP is truly screwed and right-wing pundit ‘up is down’ rhetoric is only going to make them sound even more irrelevant.

    I think the plan is to keep doing what they’re doing until things blow up and get really bad. Then all of the blame falls onto the Democrats and the Republicans swoop in and proclaim themselves the country’s saviors.

    It’s a reasonable strategy, I guess. I mean they really don’t have much in the way of choices. They could tack left and try to pick up the moderates they’ve been hard at work alienating for the last 20+ years, but at this point they’ve gone so far to the right that I’m not sure anyone in the leadership would even consider that as a viable strategy. What’s more, that’s a loser strategy short term (2-3 cycles) and these guys don’t think long term. The "keep doing what we’re doing only harder" strategy has a non-zero probability of succeeding in getting them gains in 2010, while the "tack left" strategy would require them to take short-term losses as they rebuild their coalition. For these guys the second option is a total loser of an idea but the first one is like winning the Lottery – you can see where it would have the appeal.

  85. 85
    gbear says:

    But a working banking system is just about as important as safe, affordable and reliable water. It’s just that understanding precisely how they work just really isn’t all that exciting.

    But do the water managers get a lake at the end of the year for showing up and doing their job well (or not)? Your ego probably needs a whole lots less massaging than a banker.

  86. 86
    dslak says:

    @Wile E. Quixote: As long as this drubbing is only directed at the politicians and not their supporters.

    It’s important to understand that, for authoritarians, politics is only about power. Public figures of that mentality need to be isolated and shamed, repeatedly. It removes the incentive for others to want to be associated with them.

  87. 87
    Brachiator says:

    @r€nato:

    even my mother – a hard-core Republican who hates Ted Kennedy and thinks Bill Clinton never did anything good during his time in office – has nice things to say about Obama and liked his press conference yesterday.

    Even Andrew Sullivan gets it:

    Sometimes, we forget just how momentous this past election was. It was momentous because it culminated in a rejection of the politics of the past eight years, and also, to some extent, an understanding that a very new direction was required given the gravity of the many crises facing the US and the world. …I’m not sure the press corps fully gets this, and I’m not sure that matters very much. Their job is to be polite assholes, asking questions the president would prefer not to answer, and generally being loathed by the public. They did their job better last night than until now, I thought, because they are finally settling in with the new president. They’re human too. They had to cover a phenomenon wrapped in a campaign and then a historic transition. They had to prove they weren’t saps but also make sure they weren’t being unreasonable of a new president with a mountain of problems just weeks into office. After two months, it’s beginning to feel normal – with the banter and sharpness and interaction a healthy relationship with the press requires. They did good. But Obama also noticeably avoided the MSM hierarchy. He gets the mood. And seriously: he’s obviously up to the job. That was as competent a presser as I’ve seen in my years covering politics, and light years better than his predecessor’s.

  88. 88
    MikeJ says:

    And as I tell students, the book isn’t boring. The boredom is intrinsic to the reader.

    Or in the words of Harvey Danger:

    hear the voices in my head
    i swear to god it sounds like they’re snoring
    but if you’re bored then you’re boring
    the agony and the irony, they’re killing me

    (Flagpole Sitta)

  89. 89
    KRK says:

    Reporters on my e-mail lists last year know he consistently mispronounced, misnamed or altogether forgot where he was.

    Wait…a…minute. Conant was on an email list of reporters? While he was press secretary for the RNC? Surely Politico’s own Michael Calderone is on the case?

  90. 90
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @NonyNony:

    I think the plan is to keep doing what they’re doing until things blow up and get really bad. Then all of the blame falls onto the Democrats and the Republicans swoop in and proclaim themselves the country’s saviors.

    Except that Obama has been very consistent and very articulate in reminding us about the steaming pile of shit that was left behind by George W. If the GOP can pull it off, so be it. But if you believe the polls, the GOP is succeeding at one thing right now: demonstrating that they are a 20%-25% irrelevant minority instead of a 45%-50% force to be reckoned with.

  91. 91
    Mike G says:

    This is the same Kool Kids Maureen Dowd-esque trivializing of government administration as a game, as nothing but fodder for their puerile high school gossip. By their standards, Bush was a better president because he sunk to the corporate presstitutes’ clubby, sniggering nicknames-and-aw-shucks level while the world looked on in disgust.

    I don’t give a shit if the President is entertaining or not; he has a serious job to do, and after eight years of the White House occupant treating the job like the presidency of a frat house, some boring purposefulness is refreshing. Thinking that the chief executive should be a shallow show-biz celebrity is how we ended up with Bush. It’s not a fucking reality TV show, it’s reality.

  92. 92
    dslak says:

    Of course, the statement "x is boring" is not meant to attribute some metaphysical quality, ‘boringness’ to an object. It is instead an attempt to get others to confirm the one making the claim in his prejudices.

  93. 93

    […] Found via BalloonJuice […]

  94. 94
    zzyzx says:

    This commentary is only read by those who are politically plugged in anyway so I’m less worried about this than other things…

  95. 95
    scruncher says:

    There’s a newer meme, or return to an older meme: he’s professorial, i.e. pedantic, condescending.

  96. 96
    Zifnab says:

    @Mike G:

    I don’t give a shit of the President is entertaining; he has a serious job to do. Thinking that the chief executive should be a shallow show-biz celebrity is how we ended up with Bush Regan.

    Fix’d! To be fair, we ended up with Bush because his daddy was good friends with most of the nine swing voters that actually mattered.

    Oh, alternately – damn you Ralph Nadar.

  97. 97
    Davis X. Machina says:

    There’s a newer meme, or return to an older meme: he’s professorial, i.e. pedantic, condescending.

    IOW He actually knows what the fcuk he’s doing.

    Boy, the American people are going to get turned off by that!

  98. 98
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    Wow. Perry Bacon is a real putz on the teleprompter issue.

    Tuckerton, N.J.: Some of the D.C. punditry in recent weeks has focused on President Obama’s overuse of a teleprompter, his lack of communication skills and his overall handling of the economic crisis. My question is, has the past eight years been totally whitewashed from the Beltway memory hole?

    Perry Bacon Jr.: I don’t understand the purpose in reminding people every flaw of President Bush in every piece about Obama. I don’t think anyone has forgotten the past eight years. I think any president deserves close scrutiny and criticism when appropriate.

    Hell’s Kitchen, NYC: It’s not an accident that so many righties settled on the "Obama is boring" meme this morning. The idea of attacking one of Obama’s greatest strengths — his ability as a communicator — has been brewing for a while. Isn’t that what all the silly yammering about the teleprompter is about, too, Perry?

    Perry Bacon Jr.: No, the teleprompter stories can from a specific incident at event that Kathleen Sebelius attended. Politico and the NYT wrote stories on the same day in part because Sebelius mentioned the prompter and seemed surprised by it. I think Obama’s ability as a communicator has been questioned in part because there seems to some gap between his personal popularity and his ability to get support behind his policies.

  99. 99
    JenJen says:

    My daily email from The Daily Beast greeted me this morning with the following subject line:

    "Professor Obama’s Lecture."

    I deleted it before reading.

  100. 100
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @scruncher:
    He is an elitist!

  101. 101
    Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse says:

    I have a descriptive word for genitalia I could apply to Tina Brown, too, but I’ll skip being explicit.

  102. 102
    MikeJ says:

    Thank god Obama is to smart to listen to these nitwits. The idea is to either 1) con Obama into not doing pressers at all or 2) get him to do something to "spice it up" that they can then mock. Obama has shown time and time again he doesn’t fall for this nonsense like Dems of old (six months ago) did.

  103. 103
    JenJen says:

    Nobody could have predicted that Andrew Malcolm would get in on the hot "POTUS is soooooo boooooooring" action!

    Perfect take-down over at Media Matters:

    http://mediamatters.org/county.....010?show=1

  104. 104
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    @Francis:

    It’ll be interesting to see how a blog that courts a large brigade of pitchfork wavers keeps their interest while it gets serious and tackles the tedious details of governance.

    This is a shop where an entire bucket of spittle was collected just the other day over Geithner’s use of the term "legacy assets" to refer to instruments formerly known as "toxic assets."

    Please refer to the Blog’s logo for more information.

    Just this week, we have seen hand-wringing over "Obama chuckles while economy suffers" followed immediately by "Obama is boring people with serious policy talk at news conference."

    There is a word for this kind of thing: Manipulation. It’s all just manipulation.

    Governance, like other complex and important pursuits, is definitely serious and tedious stuff. Luckily, we have a guy in charge who seems to enjoy that serious and tedious stuff, and also knows how to laugh at himself once in a while to keep himself on an even keel.

    What all these other turkeys (pundits) are gobbling about, I don’t really know. The unexamined output of small, unimportant minds.

  105. 105
    Montysano (All Hail Marx & Lennon) says:

    @Mike G:

    Thinking that the chief executive should be a shallow show-biz celebrity is how we ended up with Bush. It’s not a fucking reality TV show, it’s reality.

    Vonnegut’s "Player Piano" come to life.

  106. 106
    Ash Can says:

    @NonyNony: Furthermore, the current de facto leader of the GOP wouldn’t allow a tack-left strategy.

    The GOP really is setting itself up for some weird shit. By and large, the party is falling in line behind a leader whose entire philosophy amounts to "Feed me!" There’s a glimmering of a re-emergent sane, moderate faction of the party pushing back against this recipe for self-destruction, but with the overall GOP so steeped in authoritarianism at this point in its history, it’s yet to be seen how successful this faction is, if at all. Just as the current GOP thinks nothing of fucking up the rest of the country for political gain, Limbaugh will think nothing of fucking up the GOP for his own gain. I wonder how many Republicans will ultimately realize this.

  107. 107
    DougJ says:

    Even Andrew Sullivan gets it:

    I used to dislike Sully as much as anyone, but he’s been right often enough recently that it’s time to drop the even here.

  108. 108
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    Thinking that the chief executive should be a shallow show-biz celebrity is how we ended up with Bush.

    Not really. Eight years of the excesses of Bill Clinton, Democrat fatigue, and the lackluster candidacy of Al Gore had a lot to do with it.

  109. 109
    bayville says:

    @Comrade Mary, Would-Be Minion Of Bad Horse:
    Here’s my favorite part from Perry Bacon.

    Boston, Mass.:
    I know this is Obama’s fault because he called on all the broadcast and cable entertainers and none of the smart guys with the ink- stained fingers, but not one question on the Geithner plan? I mean it’s not like the plan is supposed to be the silver bullet for saving the global economic system or something!

    Perry Bacon Jr.:
    Another question on the media front. The Geithner plan was pretty well-received and rightly or wrongly, the media tends to focus on questions where there is conflict, like on the budget. I thought the Geithner plan was addressed at the news conference in some way, but yes, there were more questions on the budget for sure.

    Who, outside of the usual suspects (i.e. Hedge Fund hucksters) have said anything positive about the Geithner Plan?

  110. 110
    Laura W says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat: I know this will be a huge public embarrassment for you, but I agree with you in full on this point.

  111. 111
    JL says:

    @Dungheap: Sunday morning, David Gregory suggested that President Obama seemed angry. The MSM and the GOP painted Gore as boring and it worked against him.

  112. 112
    Andrew says:

    This is the really interesting part of Scherer’s post:

    QUESTION: Mr. President, you came to office pledging to work for peace between Israel and the Palestinians. How realistic do you think those hopes are now, given the likelihood of a prime minister who is not fully signed up to a two-state solution and a foreign minister who has been accused of insulting Arabs?

    OBAMA: It’s not easier than it was, but I think it’s just as necessary.

    We don’t yet know what the Israeli government is going to look like, and we don’t yet know what the future shape of Palestinian leadership is going to be comprised of. What we do know is this: that the status quo is unsustainable, that it is critical for us to advance a two-state solution where Israelis and Palestinians can live side by side in their own states with peace and security.

    And by assigning George Mitchell the task of working as special envoy, what we’ve signaled is that we’re going to be serious from day one in trying to move the parties in a direction that acknowledges that reality.

    How effective these negotiations may be, I think we’re going to have to wait and see. But, you know, we — we were here for St. Patrick’s Day, and you’ll recall that we had what had been previously sworn enemies celebrating here in this very room.

    You know, leaders from the two sides of Northern Ireland that, you know, a couple of decades ago — or even a decade ago — people would have said could never achieve peace, and here they were, jointly appearing, and talking about their commitment, even in the face of violent provocation.

    And what that tells me is that, if you stick to it, if you are persistent, then — then these problems can be dealt with.

    That whole philosophy of persistence, by the way, is one that I’m going to be emphasizing again and again in the months and years to come as long as I’m in this office. I’m a big believer in persistence.

    I think that, when it comes to domestic affairs, if we keep on working at it, if we acknowledge that we make mistakes sometimes, and that we don’t always have the right answer, and we’re inheriting very knotty problems, that we can pass health care, we can find better solutions to our energy challenges, we can teach our children more effectively, we can deal with a very real budget crisis that is not fully dealt with in my — in my budget at this point, but makes progress.

    I think, when it comes to the banking system, you know, it was just a few days ago or weeks ago where people were certain that Secretary Geithner couldn’t deliver a plan. Today, the headlines all look like, "Well, all right, there’s a plan." And I’m sure there will be more criticism, and we’ll have to make more adjustments, but we’re moving in the right direction.

    When it comes to Iran, you know, we did a video, sending a message to the Iranian people and the leadership of the Islamic Republic of Iran. And some people said, "Well, they did not immediately say that we’re eliminating nuclear weapons and stop funding terrorism." Well, we didn’t expect that. We expect that we’re going to make steady progress on this front.

    We haven’t immediately eliminated the influence of lobbyists in Washington. We have not immediately eliminated wasteful pork projects. And we’re not immediately going to get Middle East peace. We’ve been in office now a little over 60 days. What I am confident about is that we’re moving in the right direction and that the decisions we’re making are based on, how are we going to get this economy moving? How are we going to put Americans back to work? How are we going to make sure that our people are safe? And how are we going to create not just prosperity here, but work with other countries for global peace and prosperity?

    And we are going to stay with it as long as I’m in this office, and I think that — you look back four years from now, I think, hopefully, people will judge that body of work and say, "This is a big ocean liner. It’s not a speedboat. It doesn’t turn around immediately. But we’re in a better — better place because of the decisions that we made."

    God damn it’s good to have a President who is teh S-M-R-T. How many people could coherently connect Israel, Iran, Ireland, lobbying, an economic plan, etc. in a single response?

  113. 113
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    @Laura W:

    I’m a persona. I cannot really experience embarassment.

    Think of me as sort of an inflatable commenter that you can prop up in the right front seat of your car and use as a decoy in the carpool lane.

  114. 114
    DougJ says:

    Who, outside of the usual suspects (i.e. Hedge Fund hucksters) have said anything positive about the Geithner Plan?

    Brad DeLong, for example.

  115. 115
    bh says:

    Even Andrew Sullivan gets it:

    "After two months, it’s beginning to feel normal – with the banter and sharpness and interaction a healthy relationship with the press requires."

    Yes, because that is exactly what the "normal" relationship was between the press and the Bushies.

    I’m sorry. I don’t think Sullivan "gets it" at all.

  116. 116
    BethanyAnne says:

    @r€nato: brought to you by Carl’s Jr.!

  117. 117
    Darius says:

    "After two months, it’s beginning to feel normal – with the banter and sharpness and interaction a healthy relationship with the press requires."

    Yes, because that is exactly what the "normal" relationship was between the press and the Bushies.

    I’m sorry. I don’t think Sullivan "gets it" at all.

    I think Sullivan would be the first to argue that the press’s relationship with Bush was not "healthy" in the slightest.

  118. 118
    eemom says:

    I’m glad to see that folks have moved on to the "reaction" phase — me, I’m still swooning over that beautiful, wonderful, glorious FUCK YOU to that pompous asshole Henry.

    "I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak."

    I’ll love you till I die, Barack Obama……

  119. 119
    DougJ says:

    I don’t think Sullivan “gets it” at all.

    You cited one weak spot in an otherwise good piece, IMHO.

  120. 120
    r€nato says:

    I’ve watched the Obama presser three times already.

    Not because I am such a fanboy but because it is so refreshing to have a president who is smart, can think on his feet, and knows what he is talking about.

    It’s like watching (clips of) Michael Jordan play. You don’t have to be a basketball fan to appreciate the guy’s amazing talents.

  121. 121
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    @r€nato:

    Just my inflatable commenter opinion, but I thought this press conference was his best public work so far as president.

    He took that room full of dolts to school.

    Whether they learned anything or not, remains to be seen, but I think the tv audience largely got it: This guy is large and in charge, and smart, and rather elegant.

    If I am a Republican, I am eating my liver today.

  122. 122
    InflatableCommenter says:

    Just making this official. Please unmoderate as soon as possible.

    And of course, of you disagree with me about anything, my new slogan: Blow me.

  123. 123
    JL says:

    If I am a Republican, I am eating my liver today.

    but, but, but he was boring.

  124. 124
    Laura W says:

    @Andrew:

    That whole philosophy of persistence, by the way, is one that I’m going to be emphasizing again and again in the months and years to come as long as I’m in this office. I’m a big believer in persistence.

    I gotta believe that when Plouffe’s book comes out detailing the campaign strategy(s), a lot of people are going to get a fascinating look at how very persistent, focused and disciplined he is. Dunno why anyone should be surprised about any of this.

  125. 125
    Zifnab says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat: I was honestly a bigger fan of his "race in America" speech that he gave in the primary run. This might have been simply in juxtaposition to the Mittens Romney "Who’s a mormon? Hey, look over there! Terrorists!" speech, but I still say it was the best bit I’ve ever heard him give.

    This last presentation had too many stupid questions to be enjoyable. "What are Americans expected to sacrifice?" I mean, really? Really? Monthly unemployment rocketing up at over 650k and you want to talk about sacrifice? Maybe you should just come out and say it. "Working class Americans have been ungrateful bastards. How should we punish them in this shitty economy?"

  126. 126
    Dennis-SGMM says:

    There’s an unconscious element of protecting the luster of Reagan in the criticisms of Obama. With good reason, you don’t hear the R’s refer in glowing terms to Bush II, Bush I, Ford, or Nixon: Reagan is all they have. Anything that would diminish his stature is anathema to conservatives.

  127. 127
    forked tongue says:

    Great. Scherer stops being a jerk for a minute, then links to a couple of painfully lame efforts at wingnut humor devoted to spreading the very meme he claims to be unimpressed by.

  128. 128
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    @JL:

    I know, they sound like a kid sticking his fingers in his ears and yelling "I Can’t Hear You!"

  129. 129
    Tom Betz says:

    Doug, the Wolff piece struck me pretty clearly as a big old bowl of snark. I can’t imagine this guy really being that clueless.

    What’s funniest about it is the total cluelessness of his commenters.

  130. 130
    TheHatOnMyCat says:

    @Zifnab:

    That Race In America speech might have been the best speech in any campaign in my lifetime. But I cleverly boxed in my comment with "best work so far as president."

    This was an hour of a president who is, if you will pardon the expression, ready to lead.

  131. 131
    Dave C says:

    What precisely is so bad about being "professorial?" Isn’t the communication of information what a professor does? I think all these people complaining probably got nothing but C’s and D’s in college and they’re still bitter about it.

  132. 132
    Laura W says:

    @InflatableCommenter:

    Blow me.

    Yeah, "Bite me" might be a little self-defeating, huh?

  133. 133
    JL says:

    Gibbs is suppose to give his press briefing at 2:45pm I might watch just to see if Ed Henry asks a follow up question from last night. We can all count on Chuck to ask a deep question.

  134. 134
    r€nato says:

    Isn’t the communication of information what a professor does?

    let’s remember that these are the people whose definition of ‘elitist’ encompasses anybody with better than a high school education and take their cues on the economy and Middle East politics from Joe the Unlicensed Plumber.

    par for the course, in other words.

  135. 135
    InflatableCommenter says:

    @Laura W:

    Let’s call it "Change You Can Bereave In."

    Say this with a Chinese accent, it sounds about right.

  136. 136
    Dave C says:

    Oh look, the teleprompter gaff that wasn’t!

    http://washingtonindependent.c.....that-wasnt

  137. 137
    OC says:

    I read the Politico piece and I yawned. The Politico has a singular focus, much like ESPN, and has to reach for stories based on some very mundane topics (anyone who watches ESPN has seen the same thing with Terrel Owens. ZOMG T.O. ATE CORNFLAKES TODAY!!!!) Same idea here. It’s a slow news day so let’s eat up some space with a lameass story about teleprompters. What makes me chuckle is the righties over in the Politico comments section act like this makes Obama some kind of drooling idiot. Projection anyone?

  138. 138
    passerby says:

    @r€nato:

    The GOP answer to Hillary Clinton:

    "Americans want tits? Hey, we got tits! Say hello to Sarah Palin!"

    The GOP answer to Barack Obama:

    "Americans want colored folks? Hey, we got colored folks! Say hello to Bobby Jindal and Michael Steele!"

    The GOP answer to Obama’s winning campaign:

    "Obama won because of social networking technology? Hey, John McCain has a Twitter account!"
    __________________________________________
    This is a crisp distillation renato [golf clap]

    Edit: italics fail.

  139. 139
    mandarama, Eager Minion says:

    @curtis:

    Since no one’s responded to curtis…I thought your post was even-handed and interesting, and I wish I heard more self-identified conservatives speaking this way. What you said about sycophantism, though…you have to remember that we’re all here because we avidly follow policymaking, governance, political maneuvering, etc. So when we say the presser was interesting, we aren’t just pretending that and shielding Obama from the "boring" criticism. I love to hear detailed descriptions of policies in the making. So for me, anyway, my enjoyment of the press conference was sincere. I like long discussions of complex governing issues. I also like strong snark-fu, which is why I come here to this excellent commentariat. But I want the President to do the former, and BJ to do the latter.

    You’re right that non-poli-junkies probably tune out a lot of the long discussion and find the whole presser boring. Some comedian used to joke about how before cable, if the President was on and you were a kid, your whole night was ruined. My neighbors asked me to give them a quick summary of the presser b/c they were putting kids to bed, getting ready for work, etc. But as you said, these people are VERY relieved to hear the President going on at length about important issues. "Boring" is in the eye of the beholder, and is not the pejorative the wurlitzer thinks it is.

  140. 140
    geg6 says:

    @schrodinger’s cat:

    In spite of their viewerships, Obama still won, didn’t he? May be not as many people are falling for their crap. I for one think that Republicans and their water carriers in the media are not connecting like they used to. They will always have 30% of the people who thought Bush was doing a great job until the end of his term, but many moderates (even Republicans) are not buying this stuff any more.

    Part of the reason that is true is because the Democrats started finding ways to connect and counteract the GOP memes that they always accepted. And those memes were accepted simply because the Dems never pushed back effectively. Now we do and we have to keep doing it. Because if they are the only ones using the megaphone, they will be the only ones anyone hears.

  141. 141
    Zifnab says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat: Fair Enough. Still had too many stupid questions. I’d like to sit Barack Obama down in front of John Stewart, Paul Krugman, Glenn Greenwald, and Helen Thomas. That would be a fucking press conference.

  142. 142
    InflatableCommenter says:

    @Zifnab:

    Sounds good. As long as we get to be there too!

  143. 143
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @TheHatOnMyCat:

    What I always loved about the the Republican reaction to Obama’s race speech was their assertion that Obama "threw his grandmother under the bus." Talk about not getting it.

  144. 144
    Darius says:

    but, but, but he was boring.

    "Obama was boring" = "shit, there’s nothing we can use against him".

  145. 145
    schrodinger's cat says:

    @Zifnab:
    Or Balloon Juice commentators and Tunchmen (Cole, Doug J and Tim F).

  146. 146
    Andrew says:

    What precisely is so bad about being "professorial?"

    You’re kidding, right? Intellect is a sign of godless, weak-in-the-knees socialist pandering.

  147. 147
    J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford says:

    @curtis:

    Go troll yourself.

  148. 148

    Sorry if this has already been mentioned (will go back and read the rest of the comments in a bit) but on Morning Joe this morning Scarborough basically said that the telepromter use was smart and mores the point that he wished that GWB had used it alot more in his eight years, or words to that effect. Other than Limbaugh (who now begins any quote from POTUS with "Obama’s teleprompter said") I don’t think this attack is going anywhere.

  149. 149
    LV-426 says:

    @curtis:

    The bottom line is that Obama has been overly-hyped by the left for his entire time as both a candidate and as President.

    Is this true? From what I’ve observed the right has been running around saying the left can’t stop talking about Obama’s speaking skills. While most on the left have mentioned that no one hyped it. It’s refreshing after 8 years of Bush but it’s not why we elected him.
    Far too often I’m seeing and hearing things attrubuted to the left when it’s simply the right saying the left is doing and saying these things. And since most right wingers only receive news from right wing sources they don’t know that it’s mostly made up bullshit. It’s sounds like what they want to hear so it sticks. Coincidently it’s also why the right is wandering in the forest right now. Their message is limited by their audience. They can only say what the base wants to hear.

  150. 150
    bayville says:

    Re: Brad DeLong and Geithner Plan.

    I stand corrected. I overlooked his analysis. What the hell is he thinking? Frankly, I hope he is correct but considering the same cast of characters are still in place and making ALL of the major decisions, the odds are against it working.

    But hey, someone hits the Mega Millions lottery once a week.

  151. 151
    Ash says:

    @Dave C: I just read this article

    http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/t.....pter_gaffe

    and this whole thing is crazy. How a complete lie can become truth so quickly. Scary as hell.

  152. 152
    LV-426 says:

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford:
    It’s not about getting it. It’s about giving it. The base wants a reason to think Obama’s wrong about whatever. ‘They’ give them that. However possible. Bending as much reality as is nescessary. Winning elections is the end game.

  153. 153
  154. 154
    kay says:

    I think Obama’s ability as a communicator has been questioned in part because there seems to some gap between his personal popularity and his ability to get support behind his policies.

    I know this has now become conventional wisdom, but I just think this is insane. What "policies" has Obama tried to sell that were rejected? Where does this come from? He’s had one legislative success, out of a total of one attempt.

    He campaigned, and won, on health care, tax code, energy and education, and a refutation of President Bush’s foreign policy. When did we all decide that 1. these are policies that are specific to Obama ( the majority Democratic Congress share them, essentially) and 2. Sometime after November, Americans rejected them?

    This is what he won on. What did pundits think it was? It’s clear pundits don’t, and Republican in Congress don’t, but who else? I don’t remember any broad public rejection of anything.

  155. 155
    Original Lee says:

    @Laura W: Laura and Andrew:

    Don’t you just love how he persistently persists in reminding people about his philosophy of persistence?

    I’ll have to admit, I snickered out loud when he hit that line, but as usual, I was the only one in the room doing so. I just love that sly dry way he has of slipping one past the press corps.

  156. 156
    TenguPhule says:

    And we are still paying attention to these people?

    You can’t drag the crazies away to Liberal Reeducation camps if you don’t know who they are.

  157. 157
    TenguPhule says:

    I think Obama’s ability as a communicator has been questioned in part because there seems to some gap between his personal popularity and his ability to get support behind his policies.

    I think its because of the "ums".

    It drives me crazy every time I see someone speaking publically who does that repeatedly.

    If you have to think about it, please do not attempt to fill the silence with useless sounds in the meantime.

  158. 158
    Francis says:

    Follow-up point to my earlier comment that good governance is tedious:

    Good governance is also the art of the possible. This is why DeLong (who served in the Treasury Dept) is correct, and why Krugman and Duncan Black are wrong. In my field, this is why I’ve given up commenting at Aguanomics.

    Efficiency in government is great, mostly because it saves tax dollars. But there are other values in governance. Institutional knowledge is one. Compromise is another. Risk hedging is a third. Legal obstacles are a fourth.

    What does this mean? In water, it means that it is not always possible to set rates at the prices which maximize efficient use of water. For one, people disagree bitterly about what "efficient use of water" means. For another, people with large lawns are also the ones who vote. (Further details about efficiency and water pricing available on demand for those not already suffering MEGO.)

    In the banking crisis, it means that large scale nationalization / receivership of large banks can’t happen yet, even if it’s the most "efficient" course of action. Going thru my four points: The FDIC lacks the institutional knowledge to put a bank the size of BoA into receivership. Receivership will really p*ss off powerful constituencies, including moderate republicans and major contributors to the D party. Receivership is risky; taking an interim step provides an opportunity to hedge. Receivership of the bank parent company may well be illegal right now (hence the new legislation being submitted to Congress.)

    Now, moving the government in the desired direction requires that somebody stand way beyond what’s politically possible, screaming and yelling when he doesn’t get everything he wants and pointing out all the downsides of compromise. This is why Prof. K is playing a vital role.

    And, you know, sometimes the extremists are right and the compromisers wrong. Sometimes taking the halfway step instead of the full step ends up being far worse than expected. But that’s one of the prices of living in a democracy.

  159. 159
    Steve V says:

    The teleprompter meme isn’t just about attacking Obama’s communication skills; they’re trying to set up an image of Obama being inarticulate and even stupid — he can’t think and needs to have the words being placed in front of him. I recognize that it’s a basic tack for the political opposition to try to portray their nemesis as unintelligent (although I think that was deployed more against Bush II and Reagan than it was against Bush I and Clinton), but in the context of Obama I think this could get racially ugly before too long.

  160. 160
    MikeJ says:

    The bottom line is that Obama has been overly-hyped by the left for his entire time as both a candidate and as President.

    I can assure you people on the left have no excess love for Obama. They simply thought a moderate republican was far better than a right wing extremist. The only people who ever thought Obama was of "the left" were very, very silly people, primarily of the right.

  161. 161
    Zifnab says:

    @TenguPhule: Man. All that talk of black helicopters flying in to take away the guns and throwing conservative wackjobs into "reeducation facilities" doesn’t seem like such a bad idea at this stage of the game. It’s almost as though they’re asking for it.

  162. 162
    Zifnab says:

    @Steve V:

    … but in the context of Obama I think this could get racially ugly before too long.

    Before too long? Really? Ya think?

  163. 163
    Davis X. Machina says:

    they’re trying to set up an image of Obama being inarticulate and even stupid…

    Why don’t they just say ‘black’?

  164. 164
    Keith says:

    @r€nato:

    There’s also "They got a guy with abs to be president? Well, we need to get a guy with better abs!" Mark my words, Aaron Schock will be Bobby Jindal’s replacement, regardless of whether he’s in Mensa or got a degree from Oral Roberts U. For the GOP, the shortest midget wins.

  165. 165
    TenguPhule says:

    @Zifnab

    All that talk of black helicopters flying in to take away the guns and throwing conservative wackjobs into "reeducation facilities" doesn’t seem like such a bad idea at this stage of the game. It’s almost as though they’re asking for it.

    I’d support this option solely for the reason that it would get the wackjobs to shut up, one way or another. Then maybe the papers and tv would show some real news with real reporting.

  166. 166
    forked tongue says:

    I think Obama’s ability as a communicator has been questioned in part because there seems to some gap between his personal popularity and his ability to get support behind his policies.

    I think its because of the "ums".

    No, no, no, no, and no.

    You’re imagining that there might be some empirical basis for the "questioning."

    His abilities are being "questioned" because he is a Democrat and they hate him. Period, end of story.

  167. 167
    Ash Can says:

    I’d like to go on record as saying that I hope curtis sticks around here. He seems entirely sane, genuinely intelligent and genuinely conservative, in the strictly defined, small-c, old-school sense, unlike the usual contrarians around here. I mean, let’s face it — Atanarjuat’s routine is getting kind of old now that there isn’t much in the way of right-wing silliness to spoof (it’s gotten so silly that it spoofs itself), and everyone else who finds their way here from the right is a walking, talking psychiatric case study. Curtis seems like a nice antidote for the batshit, and I for one hope he stays.

  168. 168
    TenguPhule says:

    You’re imagining that there might be some empirical basis for the "questioning."

    No, I’m not.

    The "um" thing is a common problem with public speakers.

    Obama just needs some practice to stop that bad habit,
    then the world is his oyster.

  169. 169

    […] Dougj at Balloon Juice5 says: It’s not an accident that so many righties settled on the “Obama is boring” meme this […]

  170. 170
    kay says:

    @MikeJ:

    There will never, ever be a President as overly hyped as Reagan was and is by the right. Forget "President". Person.

    It’s impossible. Even if we set out to do that, we couldn’t beat the Reagan hype, because it grows, every year. They have a nearly 30 year head start on assembling a body of hype. Millions of words.

  171. 171
    kay says:

    @forked tongue:

    I just think if you’re going to say "Obama can’t find support for his policies" you should probably be able to point to a policy.

    Because if you can’t do that, you’re making stuff up.

  172. 172
    InflatableCommenter says:

    When did we start qualifying only for the third-rate trolls?

    Are we not leaving enough troll food out by the back porch?

    Christ, we are down to a few wannabees and Atanajumama.

    This is sad.

  173. 173
    MikeJ says:

    Key, I do hope you’ll note that I agree with you. The part of my post that you appear to be responding to was a quote from curtis.

  174. 174
    Common Sense says:

    I think you guys are missing the effectiveness of the "professor/lecturer" line of attack. It allows for multiple memes to spread simultaneously:

    A) He’s boring. He’s one of those profs that puts you to sleep, especially when varying from the notes.

    B) He hasn’t been there and done that. The line "those who can, do. Those who can’t, teach" resonates quite loudly with a huge segment of society.

    C) He can’t actually do anything. He can read a teleprompter/give a lecture, but like the airhead prof that can’t manage a checkbook he’s incompetent at actually doing.

    I’m not saying any of these things are true, and I think that Obama does a very effective job of silencing them every time he opens his mouth. But it is an easy trail of breadcrumbs for a lazy mind, or even a distracted one, to follow.

  175. 175
    curtis says:

    @mandarama, Eager Minion @LV-426 @Miriam:

    You bring up good points. I shouldn’t have used a blanket "you all", as it obviously didn’t communicate what I wanted. When I say that "you all", I really mean "Obama supporters in general". I don’t think that’s what came across, and you certainly aren’t to be faulted for my poor writing. My apologies.

    Still, I do think that there is a perception outside of just conservatism that Obama is (or at least at one time was) seen as almost faultless. Part of this has to do with the simple fact that campaigning means being excited about a candidate in ways that are blind to his flaws, but a lot of it has continued since he’s been President. Still, these pages have been filled with many even-handed, realistic critiques of Obama, and I was certainly wrong to blanketly generalize.

    In any case, I too enjoy more in-depth analysis, which often can be called "boring", especially when compared to the usual network-TV info-tainment that has become a substitute for real reporting in the MSM. Nonetheless, I do think that Obama’s ability to communicate with "the common man" has seen better days than last night’s presser. Obama came across as dry and intelligent, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, however he’s shown the ability to be far more dynamic and communicative in the campaign, and I think people need to see that if he’s to continue with the kinds of stratospheric approval ratings he’s garnered in his first few months of office.

    @J.A.F. Rusty Shackleford:
    Is that really the best you can do? You’re fellow commentators were far more reasonable, even-handed, and civil.

  176. 176
    TenguPhule says:

    Obama came across as dry and intelligent, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, however he’s shown the ability to be far more dynamic and communicative in the campaign, and I think people need to see that if he’s to continue with the kinds of stratospheric approval ratings he’s garnered in his first few months of office.

    Please keep in mind he was being forced to explain to idiotic five year olds in the same room with him the basics of government and economics.

  177. 177
    kay says:

    @MikeJ:

    I know that. I just get tired of this accusation, that we’re all blind Obama-worshippers.

    Coming from the members of the Church of Ronald Reagan, it rankles.

  178. 178
    Mnemosyne says:

    My favorite commenter was the one who said the Democrats have controlled both houses of Congress for the past 8 years.

    How do you even argue with someone that ignorant?

  179. 179
    bh says:

    @Doug J
    Honestly I think it was much more than a weak spot. To claim that the press is returning to its ‘normal’ adversarial role is really living in an alternative universe.

    Sullivan just comes off as someone preaching a repug talking point. The media loved Obama before but now he’s in office they are getting back to their proper roles. bullshit. McCain ran one of the crappiest campaigns ever yet there were many examples where he wasn’t held to the same standard as Obama (for example Wright vs Hagee or Ayres vs Liddy). And we are all very aware of the media’s disappearance during the Bush years.

    I believe more in the ‘they didn’t call on us even though we are the new york fucking times!’ perspective of Atrios for them being so-called polite assholes.

    @Darius
    Maybe he would – I don’t read him that often. But if that is indeed the case he has a different definition of normal than I do.

    Finally, ‘sharpness’ and the press are not words I’m putting together.

  180. 180
    Svensker says:

    @kay:

    I know that. I just get tired of this accusation, that we’re all blind Obama-worshippers.
    Coming from the members of the Church of Ronald Reagan, it rankles.

    Church of Ronald Reagan!?! I remember a year or two after the Iraq invasion going into a Christian book store and being confronted by Bush’s mug on a book that was basically saying Dubya was Jesus’s newest incarnation. As a Christian, I actually felt it was blasphemy, and that’s not an emotion I feel very often.

  181. 181
    JenJen says:

    @Dave C: Good stuff. Nuance and humor escape the Meme Writers, though. These are VERY SERIOUS TIMES and it is NOT a LAUGHING MATTER.

    :-)

  182. 182
    Common Sense says:

    Bit OT:

    offensive? hilarious? both?

  183. 183
    Common Sense says:

    sorry (software sucks):

    link

  184. 184
    harlana pepper says:

    Media: How dare Obama speak to the American public as if they are adults with moderate intelligence after we’ve worked sooo hard to dumb ’em down. Shit, now we have to do our homework! With no cookies!!!

  185. 185
    Ash Can says:

    @curtis:

    I think people need to see that if he’s to continue with the kinds of stratospheric approval ratings he’s garnered in his first few months of office.

    I don’t think anyone honestly expects him to maintain stratospheric approval ratings, including (and probably starting with) Obama himself. Every president has a "honeymoon" approval period, then when the rubber starts to meet the road, the numbers change.

    Furthermore, he’s bound to be more pedantic and less inspirational in the format of a press conference. He’s being asked specific questions, and (especially compared with his predecessor) tends to have a wealth of information at his fingertips that he can and does include in his replies. I’m sure this isn’t the last time we’ll hear complaints from the media et al. about his pedantry. When he’s asked for information, he delivers, and the people on the receiving end need to be ready for it.

  186. 186
    Brachiator says:

    @curtis:

    In terms of how this affects how ordinary Americans view him, I can’t imagine that the wide gulf between him and Bush isn’t obvious, and I’m sure that Americans would rather listen to Obama. But that doesn’t mean that they don’t think he’s still boring—his rather annoying capacity to pause and utter "uh" ever few seconds (a bad habit that he is gradually correcting, I might add) is of particular note, as is the fact that, no matter how eloquent he is, Obama’s still essentially competing against American Idol. I doubt very many people would choose to hear professorial lecturing after a long days work over that.

    You miss the point. A certain level of the punditocracy has latched onto "boring" as though this says something important about Obama’s press conference. It doesn’t. And this has nothing to do with whether one is "supposed to be" an Obama cheerleader.

    The main thing that the average citizen cares about is whether Obama is making the right decisions. The average Joe or Jane won’t even watch the press conference, but will turn to one of their political junkie friends and want to know if Obama were more or less on target. And then they will get on with their lives.

    They won’t give a rat’s ass whether or not Obama was "boring."

    The same thing was true of Reagan. The same was true of FDR. Only a fool would write about whether a Reagan speech or an FDR fireside chat was boring. The only relevant question is whether the average viewer feels reassured.

    I have no interest in insisting the the answer must be "Yes! Yes! Oh God, yes!" But during my morning commute, I don’t hear grumblings. I don’t hear any great dissatisfaction with Obama (and I’m in California where the grumbling is deep and loud about the Sacramento leadership).

    As much as it might dissapoint the GOP faithful or those who think that politics requires some kind of loyalty oath, I don’t get much of a hint of buyer’s remorse among the populace. In fact one of the funnier aspects of recent LA elections was watching people respond "Obama," when asked who they voted for. Turns out that most of these were people who didn’t turnout for the LA mayoral election, but who still were jazzed about voting for Obama.

  187. 187
    Andrew says:

    Obama came across as dry and intelligent, which isn’t a bad thing necessarily, however he’s shown the ability to be far more dynamic and communicative in the campaign, and I think people need to see that if he’s to continue with the kinds of stratospheric approval ratings he’s garnered in his first few months of office.

    I think that the press wants to see a dynamic and stirring speech.

    I think the public at large, on the other hand, is quite happy hearing from a calm and thoughtful individual. Especially the 10-15% of the electorate that did not vote for Obama but now approves of his work.

    The press wants talking points, controversy, and banner headlines. A 4 minute conversation about persistence is rather difficult to make into a headline.

  188. 188
    Rick Taylor says:

    I just got around to reading the transcripts of Obama’s press conference. Two immediate impressions.

    First off, I cannot imagine our previous President carrying on conversations anywhere near this level of depth or sophistication. It’s inconceivable, and I suspect everyone knows it. That some conservatives are now choosing to riff on Obama’s inability to communicate simply shows how tremendously dishonest they are.

    Second, it’s amazing to see the press finally so concerned about budget projections ten years out. When Bush proposed his tax cuts, they were dishonestly designed to be fazed in, to hide the long term cost. When even that left the costs too high, they put in the sunset clause. It was a staggeringly dishonest display. When economists like Krugman spoke of how unaffordable it would be, they were talking about the long term costs (because it was only in the long term that they were fully fazed in). Back then, I don’t remember reporters caring much about that issue. It’s only under a Democrat that they suddenly worry about fiscal responsibility.

  189. 189
    kay says:

    @Svensker:

    I know lots of religious Democrats and liberals and I’m completely sympathetic to your complaint. I’m not religious, but if I were, I would hate that they hijacked my whole life philosophy. I think you should fight back, but I see the obvious problem with my "fight back" approach, considering.

  190. 190
    bago says:

    Can’t comment.

    I have duties (doodies?). This isn’t a lame plea for sympathy, but simply a statement that indicates that I’m going to be busy for a while.

    (doesn’t that indicate that you feel you are important enough to inform the commentariat to warn them of your absence? Yeah yeah yeah. Just waaaay harder to type.)

  191. 191
    Joshua Norton says:

    Dood, even WITH a teleprompter, Bush said the craziest shit a president of EVER uttered. It’s so strange that it didn’t bother the press way back, oh, last year. I recall it being “folksy”, and “down to earth”…it was in fact “functionally illiterate”, and “stupid”.

    Next up:

    OMG. OBAMA IS PLANTING A COMMIE VEGETABLE GARDEN!

  192. 192
    Zifnab says:

    @Andrew:

    I think that the press wants to see a dynamic and stirring speech.

    The press wants to see something exciting, one way or another. They’ll be just as happy with a gaffe-laden goofball monstrosity as another "I Have a Dream". So long as it gives them something superficial to prattle over the next day.

    God forbid they actually tackle policy.

  193. 193
    forked tongue says:

    TenguPhule: It’s not that "um"s can’t be a problem, it’s that they have nothing to do with this meme taking flight.

  194. 194
    One Who Hath Waited says:

    "President" is too demeaning a title for Barack Obama.
    Trolls–cease your criticism of Him. It is futile. Antiwingnuts–He does not need your feeble support or defense. Why are you not proposing a proper appellation for Him, instead of jousting with vermin and gratzing each other?

  195. 195
    Nancy B says:

    Have any of the wingnut retards compared this yet to how Queen Sarah turned water into wine when her teleprompter went on the fritz and she finished her speech by memory?

  196. 196
    Brachiator says:

    @Nancy B:

    Have any of the wingnut retards compared this yet to how Queen Sarah turned water into wine when her teleprompter went on the fritz and she finished her speech by memory?

    Didn’t Palin shoot the teleprompter?

    Of course, this is all ridiculous and I’m glad that the GOP continues to grasp at straws.

    Seems like it was only yesterday when Elizabeth Hasselbeck was on "The View" bloviating about how Obama shouldn’t have been smiling when he was talking about the economy. So, on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Obama is not serious enough; and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he is too serious.

    These pitiful fools are so transparent. The sad part is that some of theme believe that their futile machinations mean anything.

  197. 197
    El Cid says:

    Not only are the Obama’s cultivating a communist Muslim organic garden at the White House, OMFG THEY’RE GROWING ARUGULA!!!

  198. 198
    TenguPhule says:

    So, on Sunday, Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday, Obama is not serious enough; and on Monday, Wednesday, and Friday he is too serious.

    Welcome to our liberal media.

  199. 199
    AnneLaurie says:

    (By the way, while Michael Wolff probably doesn’t qualify as a right-wing hack (although he certainly does enjoy fellating Rupert Murdoch), this piece is pretty remarkable.)

    Michael Wolff is a media whore who salves his self-respect by assuming that only idiots do it for nothing. If he’s ever queried about this piece by one of his this-year-all-the-fashionistas-luv-Obama peers, he’ll explain that telling the john he’s "so big" and "the best ever" is just part of getting them finished faster so MW can move on to the next one.

  200. 200
    bob h says:

    Memewatch: Obama does not represent real change.

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