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No amount of 'emoting' from Obama will suffice

Cross-posted from The Plum Line.

It needs to be said that the growing chorus of calls for Obama to show more "anger" or "emotion" about the gulf oil spill are pure B.S.: No matter how angry or emotional he becomes, he will always have fallen short.

It's an article of faith among Beltway pundits that the public wants Obama to show more emotion about this and other crises. For instance, David Brooks today states it as fact:

They demand that he hold press conferences, show leadership, announce that the buck stops here and do something. They want him to emote and perform the proper theatrical gestures so they can see their emotions enacted on the public stage.

The public wants Obama to put on empty theatrical gestures to make them feel better? No need to back this assertion up, of course. But put that aside for a sec. The real point is that this standard isn't designed to be met.

Take Joe Scaraborough, for instance. On MSNBC this morning, he called on Obama to spend the night the next time he visits the gulf. If he were to do this, of course, Scarborough would call on him to sleep in a tent on the gulf shore. And so on.

The point is that this is an entirely arbitrary yardstick with which to measure Obama's performance, and the bar will inevitably rise ever higher. Even those pundits who have suggested Obama has cleared the proper emotional threshold, such as David Broder, don't bother explaining how they reached this conclusion.

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By Greg Sargent  | June 1, 2010; 11:21 AM ET
Tags:  Greg Sargent  
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During the Financial Crisis of 2008, John McCain "Jumped on his horse and galloped madly off in all directions," while Barack Obama remained cool and engaged. If we had wanted unfocused histrionics in our President, we could have voted for John McCain. Thankfully, 53% of us did not.

Posted by: jaltman1 | June 1, 2010 12:51 PM | Report abuse

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