The Trail: A Daily Diary of Campaign 2008


The Rundown

From Leno to Lettuce, Distractions Abound for Obama

By Ben Pershing
Is the White House doing its level best to distract people from the cratering economy and the AIG bonus controversy?

Consider: President Obama went on "The Tonight Show" last night and did talk about the economy, but also made news by joking about the Special Olympics -- hey, at least he didn't mock Nancy Reagan again -- and even threw out the nugget that the First Dog would be in place by Easter. Michelle Obama, meanwhile, will break ground today on a vegetable garden at the White House. And, of course, March Madness has begun, reducing productivity and slowing the Internet all across the land. (Obama went 11-5 on Day 1.)

But it was Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski who took time out from making commercials this week to suggest Obama should focus on the economy instead of his brackets. And similar criticism has come for his decision to appear on Leno.

So yet again, Obama explained Thursday -- somewhat oddly, this time -- that he can and should multitask. At a town hall meeting in Los Angeles, Obama said: "Somebody was saying the other -- today, I think, that I shouldn't be on Leno. I can't handle that and the economy at the same time. Listen, here's what I say. I say our challenges are too big to ignore." So was he saying that, in these trying times, an appearance on "The Tonight Show" was just too important to put off?

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Posted at 8:35 AM ET on Mar 20, 2009  | Category:  The Rundown
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Obama's only mistake on Leno is that he did not come out lugging his teleprompter. I thought he was a genius at multitasking? He is becoming a political joke and the left is lately starting to panic.

Posted by: gwalter1 | March 23, 2009 10:13 AM

This was the week in which the tail was trying to wag the dog...and the media continues to move this argument forward.

Is there any responsible journalist left to say there is something more important than the AIG bailout? Have any of them really researched the constitutionality of the tax law written by the House?

The Media got played...or they were complicit in wasting a week...Why are they so intent on speaking of "distractions" instead of discussing issues like Senate holding nominations, card check, etc. You should look at your front page and evaluate if you could have done a better job.

Posted by: axf56730 | March 21, 2009 9:32 AM

Frankly, I am disabled now and am no more inclined to watch the Special Olympics than before I was disabled. The whole notion of the Olympics in Greece was to celebrate beauty in its athletic
form--beautiful, muscled bodies in perfect form, and a group of the disabled competing, however well, is not beautiful. Although the human spirit is beautiful, a crippled body is not, and the whole
idea of the Special Olympics getting the kind of public attention and traction that it does I have always found somewhat ridiculous, and it probably only got the attention because it was a Kennedy behind it and no one wanted to speak truth to power. It's like, "let's all be in denial" and say how beautiful it is to watch crippled people try to do the same things that the Olympians do, but it is not beautiful, it is excruciating.
Having said that, Obama--who I campaigned and voted for enthusiastically-- shouldn't have made the wise-crack that he did because it was demeaning of the disabled and demeaning of the Presidency. I guess he's not perfect after all!

Posted by: kushka53 | March 20, 2009 9:14 PM

Is it also funny how the right wing is now spouting how the President needs to be in Washington and focusing on one thing? Was it not Bush who took the most vacations then any other President and decided to start a second war in Iraq? Irony can be so obvious sometimes.

Posted by: Ironcomments | March 20, 2009 6:50 PM

Is it just me or do others find it funny that all of sudden the right wing is standing up of for political correctness?

Posted by: Ironcomments | March 20, 2009 6:44 PM

Geez. The Republican hate machine is busy today!

When was the last time Republican politicians even had a clue? Never. Repubs can't complain about Obama's budget, because Repubs don't even know what a budget is much less how to write one. The Repubs said, well we're just gonna look at Obama's and plaigerize. What a bucket of dummies!

And just to set the record straight: For those pundits who are talking about Obama's approval rating, we love our President. After campaigning for him for almost 2 years, we supporters are just on OUR honeymoon right now.

Posted by: lindalovejones | March 20, 2009 5:43 PM

Bcamp55: It would be far easier for you to object to the "Special Olympics" comments if you hadn't opened with "This guy is a vapid imbecile." Definition of imbecile: A person of moderate to severe mental retardation. So who are you trying to insult here? Your attacks are insensitive and offensive.

Posted by: hads | March 20, 2009 5:05 PM

Rather odd take on how President Obama spent a few minutes here and there when he wasn't talking about the economy almost all the time the past week, Ben. I guess it must take you most of your time trying to do your job with no time for anything else. Agree in advance his is a bit more important!

Funny how you left out the part in the article that said: "Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said with a laugh". So was this really criticism of Pres. Obama? Sounds like maybe he was joking?

And there's this troubling tendency from our president - he follows through on his promises:
Katz extracted a promise from Obama that if elected, the new president would reveal his NCAA picks to ESPN when the pairings were announced in March.

"They stayed true to their word and didn't hesitate to get it done," Katz said.

Posted by: hads | March 20, 2009 4:44 PM

President Obama is talking about:

Health Care

What the hell are YOU talking about Mr. Pershing?

Posted by: JohnQuimby | March 20, 2009 3:08 PM

"h i see, bush is the new baramoter for obama. talk about lowering expectations!"
God no, he shouldn't be a baramator for the local five and dime store..

BUT where were these critics when Bush was trampling the prospect of political correctness?

THAT is my point. They just want to jump all over Obama for what ever reason. They set a precedent that they were willing to accept and now for whatever reason they don't tolerate it anymore.

Posted by: JRM2 | March 20, 2009 2:04 PM

"...he should appear more locked in to the current crisis.

Posted by: dummypants | March 20, 2009 1:36 PM"
GW took approx. 1/3 of his Presidency off for vacation while we were mired in two wars, were being hit by devastating natural disasters, were attacked on our own soil, not once but twice and the makings of an economic catastrophe were in the making.

oh, and Obama has worked several weekends BTW

...and his critics have the gall to criticize his work ethic because he uses popular culture to discuss the things we need to do to get out of this crisis?

in this case, dummypants is very fitting

Posted by: JRM2 | March 20, 2009 2:00 PM

At least he wasn't making jokes about finding WMDs behind his desk while our children were being killed in foreign countries.


Making jokes about needing a band aid while at Walter Reid in front of soldiers who's limbs had been blown off and suffered brain damage.

oh, and he had the decency to ADMIT his mistake apologize for it.

oh i see, bush is the new baramoter for obama. talk about lowering expectations!

i almost forgot:

obama has already stimulated the economy!! LMFAO

Posted by: dummypants | March 20, 2009 1:59 PM

Obama has done more for people with physical or mental disadvantages than any politician in the last 8 years.


bush didnt outlaw stem cell research. indeed he supported more than Clinton. it was only EMBRYONIC stem cell research that he refused to provide PUBLIC funds. dont over simplify the issue.

also i love how everything obama is pre-emptively declared a roaring success

its as if stem cell research has already allowed paralyzed people to walk again

obama is already lincoln/FDR/jesus christ wrapped into one

obama has already closed gitmo

obama has already ended the war in iraq

obama has already proven he can run anything bigger than a senate office

remember dems, FACTS, not belief are what you guide you.

Posted by: dummypants | March 20, 2009 1:56 PM

At least he wasn't making jokes about finding WMDs behind his desk while our children were being killed in foreign countries.


Making jokes about needing a band aid while at Walter Reid in front of soldiers who's limbs had been blown off and suffered brain damage.

oh, and he had the decency to ADMIT his mistake apologize for it.

Posted by: JRM2 | March 20, 2009 1:53 PM

steveeyes said:

Sorry, Republican’s, most of us work 12 hour days, 6 days a week (not 4) and if lucky we may get a week vacation (not months) at wages that is probably less than what you pay your servants or waste our tax dollars on for your pet peeve projects.

im pretty sure only government employees work 4 day weeks, and im pretty sure government employees are overwhelmingly democratic.

there is also celebrities and socialites like brad pitt and caroline kennedy, who are also shuttling in and out of DC to hob nob in photo ops with dem politicians. im pretty sure that lot is overwhelmingly democratic.

its ok though. remember, there is no such thing a dumb post

Posted by: dummypants | March 20, 2009 1:49 PM

Obama has done more for people with physical or mental disadvantages than any politician in the last 8 years.


get over your hypersensitivity, he realized what he said and apologized for it.

I'd rather have a President that expresses himself in deeds and not just words and that is what we have here

Posted by: JRM2 | March 20, 2009 1:43 PM

the funny thing about obama's statement is this: why should we assume that obama CAN hit the late night circuit and handle the economy at the same time?

the evidence to date is not all that promising even when obama is in DC and working 20 hour days.

obama is a hypocrite for complaining about AIG people taking bonuses that do not even amount to a drop in the bucket but then brushing off reasonable demands that he should appear more locked in to the current crisis.

Posted by: dummypants | March 20, 2009 1:36 PM

Nothing is more ridiculous than Republican’s complaining about Obama appearing on the Tonight Show. I can understand why – they fear Obama will reach the average person and that is the last thing Republican’s want. Republican’s want democracy to stay in the Washington bubble where they think they have more control and continue to pass laws that favor the rich who in turn feed the Republican campaign machine with donations. For Obama to think outside of the box speaks well of a man who was elected by the people (not wall street, lobbyists and the rich that Republican’s represent). What are the Republican’s afraid of? They are so out of touch that maybe instead of spending their time complaining, whining and trying to change the tax laws to favor the wealthiest Americans, maybe they should spend less time complaining and actually learning how to communicate to hard working Americans who are still the vast majority.

Sorry, Republican’s, most of us work 12 hour days, 6 days a week (not 4) and if lucky we may get a week vacation (not months) at wages that is probably less than what you pay your servants or waste our tax dollars on for your pet peeve projects. After a 12 hour day, the last thing we want to do is listen to O’Reily spin on politics, Hannity whining like a soar loser or even listen to you on CNN making noise. We come home, want to turn on something that isn’t so depressing to watch, yet is both entertaining and informative (like Tonight Show) that doesn’t have an agenda to promote their political views. Like I said, it tells hard working Americans’ how out of touch Republicans are about what makes us tick and what it takes to survive in a country destroyed by Bush politics

Posted by: steveeyes | March 20, 2009 1:07 PM

Someone, PLEASE, explain to Obama that the campaign is over ... he won .... stop with the campaign rhetoric and get to work. Charm may win you the election but it doesn't get the job done. Some would argue that he's jumped into the puddle with both feet .... of course, all that's done is get everyone around him muddy. Mr. Obama, you've got a job to do .... get to it.

Posted by: curious16 | March 20, 2009 1:04 PM

I've been working with these kids and their families for many years. Those who have a sense of humor generally fare better than those who don't.

Anyone who really does care about these families will support efforts to protect the environment and the workplace from teratogenic pollutants. Support for a superior health care delivery system will also be putting one's money where ones mouth is.

Posted by: rooster54 | March 20, 2009 12:52 PM

Surprise, Obama News Conference to be Held on the Lawn

Posted by: aratunes | March 20, 2009 12:28 PM

Bcamp55, you are a sick soul!

Posted by: beverlyme | March 20, 2009 11:09 AM

Its hard to find someone who is a sensitive enough soul that they are very concerned an off the cuff word by the president might offend some groups; yet within the same post goes onto a name calling tirade concluding that all Obama's supporters cannot have even 2 brain cells.

Definitely no foolish consistency of principles here.

Posted by: dullard | March 20, 2009 11:01 AM

Just how effective hass the strategy of changing the subject from the minutia to the irrelevant been working for the GOP?

Not very.

Obama Approval rating = 60.2 (Real Politics Avg. 3.20.09)
Seems I read in the WSJ that his numbers were "coming back down to earth."
Guess not.

Posted by: JohnQuimby | March 20, 2009 10:34 AM



ATTENTION: Rahm Emanuel, WH Chief of Staff; David Axelrod, senior advisor (please forward

It is a known scientific fact that radiation emanating from electromagnetic fields (or electromagnetic radiation -emitting devices) can cause headaches, mood and behavioral changes, even adverse physical effects such as the induction of illness or injury.

Is it possible that communications (or security protection) devices (or weaponry) in the vicinity of POTUS are causing physiological effects that could be affecting his sense of well-being -- or perhaps even endangering his health, and the health of others in the immediate vicinity?

Given the advanced state of White House telecommunications and security technology, President Obama and his key staff should consider an independent scientific review and audit to determine the presence of prolonged or pulsed-beam RF/EMF radiation emissions.

OR (if links are corrupted or disabled):

Posted by: scrivener50 | March 20, 2009 10:23 AM

Posted by: Bcamp55 | March 20, 2009 9:27 AM

Uhmm, you are talking about George Bush, right? I mean the words vapid, imbecil, and moron sound the the keywords on yours and his resume. As gabefig says, all of a sudden any small-minded inbred who just learned how to click a mouse finds it convenient to hide behind their computers to unleash their ignorance on the world.

Your fake outrage belongs on Fixed Noise. The rest of us smart people understand what a gaffe is and we must move on to other important things. So while you get consumed by your ignorance and obvious disdain, here is some good advice. Your guy lost, get over it and get with the program. This country is moving forward and President Obama will get us out of this mess, created by your other hero ( you know, the one you were describing in your post.) Now go away and leave the blogging thing to us the level-headed people.

Posted by: FairyGodfather | March 20, 2009 9:57 AM

It’s time to grow up America. What a unique idea…an elected official speaking directly to the folks who elected him without hiding behind the spin doctors. Bcamp55 please sign up as the first person who has not used an "insensitive" term. The “special” people
are not offended, it’s you idiots who don’t have anything better to do than nit pick and name call. If it offends you so much go work on the Special Olympics. Don’t you think it’s time to focus on what we need to do to get out of this mess and stop sniveling? It's hate mongers like you helped create and perpetuate the problems.

Posted by: jb1291 | March 20, 2009 9:53 AM

Obama has become an embarassment. The groupies may think that comedy shows and daily townhalls with his pre-selected audience look great since they love image but people who are more serious and reflective see Obama as immature and inexperienced. And his current love of the camera is an attempt to use his charm to distract from his inadequacies for the job of President. He is very unprepared and is showing the world that he is a nice, likeable guy but is not serious. We don't want a President to be a comedian or to have large, expensive parties at the White House every Wednesday night with "friends" or to spend millions of dollars on Air Force One to attend rallies and townhalls in campaign mode while cracking jokes. But this is all he knows. This is how he won the election with the groupies still in awe at the Obama image without knowing what he stands for but singing the "amen chorus" to everything he says. But most of America is a bit more serious and will judge him on his actions, not telepromter-speak. So far, we see a very unprepared man who is flailing about still hoping that his nice-guy image will bypass his actions and overt bold-face lies (ethics in his administration, no lobbyists, bipartisonship, no earmarks, etc). I believe his camera image will turn against him since he continuously exposes his doublespeak.

Posted by: lookout_63 | March 20, 2009 9:50 AM

Mr. Pershing and Bcamp55: Are you expecting me to believe that you have never, EVER made an off-key or insensitive remark? That you've NEVER said something that hurt someone's feelings? That you've never failed at trying to be funny?

As I often say on blogs and discussion boards we can sit behind a computer (usually anonymously) and pick the President or any other human being apart. We can make fun of them, insult them, and just plain say whatever we want.

How about I propose this: I want you "bCamp55" or you Mr. Ben Pershing to do this: For the next month I challenge you to wear a microphone and stream everything you say online. Open yourself up to the public scrutinty. Obviously, you find it easy to find something wrong with what someone else says and if we are to believe that you have never made an insenstive remark then you shouldn't have anything to worry about when you wear that microphone around, right? - Gabe

Posted by: gabefig | March 20, 2009 9:38 AM

This guy is a vapid imbecile. Every time he opens his empty headed mouth when the teleprompter thought police aren't there to control this socialist marionette, his comments just reinforce what anyone with more than 2 brain cells already realizes.

The "Special Olympics" comments where especially priceless. They prove once more that not only is he a vacuous moron - he has the innate sensitivity of a snake.

Posted by: Bcamp55 | March 20, 2009 9:27 AM

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