On BP spill, Obama puts his boot somewhere else
Responding to a question about his response to the BP oil spill on Tuesday’s Today show, President Obama insisted that he kicks ass.
"I don't sit around talking to experts because this is a college seminar," he said. "We talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick."
Look! Emotion! Anger! Anyone feel better now? Didn’t think so.
Of course, Allahpundit and others say that it’s a scripted soundbite. With reason. As I argued last week, any quivering-lip, fist-on-podium or off-color theatrics will appear staged simply because of the chronology -- they follow weeks of criticism of Obama’s apparent reticence to indulge in such things. I’m not sure the president can do much to combat that perception. And I don’t really want him to try.
Even if the president disappointingly surrenders to such criticisms in his messaging, that doesn’t make them fair. It’s a silly oversimplification to imply, as critics both left and right have, that if Obama isn’t obviously enraged about the spill, he must be negligently disengaged. It’s possible to be both angry and measured in one’s judgment and tone; in fact, that’s what you want in a president. That’s what leadership should be about. But according to critics on the left, apparently, it’s about amplifying their psychological distress, whether or not that leads to good decision-making. And according to the right it’s… well, I’m not really sure what the right wants Obama to change about his rhetorical response to the spill, except that it be different from whatever he’s doing at the moment.
I’d prefer that Obama did sit around a table, college seminar-style, with experts and a sense of urgency, talking about how to best organize the cleanup, not just to determine whose neck -- or other body parts, metaphorically speaking -- should feel the application of his boot. Criticize the president for the competence of the response. But stop wasting our time with shallow demands that he prioritize rage over reason.
| June 8, 2010; 2:29 PM ET
Categories: Stromberg | Tags: Stephen Stromberg
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