Obama on Ass Kickin’ and Media’s Demand for Political ‘Theater’
June 8, 2010
(ChattahBox)—-Much is being made today, of President Obama’s interview with NBC’s Today Show’s Matt Lauer, in which he used the “A” word, as it was put by MSNBC’s Savannah Guthrie this morning. Obama described his administration’s extensive consultation with experts, as a strategy to discover “whose ass to kick” for the Gulf oil disaster. For weeks, media pundits, conservatives and some Democrats, most notably CNN political contributor James Carville, have blasted Obama’s response to the Gulf oil disaster, as too cerebral. He is not angry enough. He is not fully engaged emotionally. Now, of course, since the President used the “A” word, he is being criticized for being too angry at the 24-hour cable media, which has happily advanced the meme that the oil spill is Obama’s “Katrina” and he is not an effective leader, because he doesn’t dress up in a flight suit and show emotion. Well, now this writer’s head is just about ready to explode over the nonsensical level of political discourse in our country.
As usual, Steve Benen of the Political Animal nicely summed up the angry/cerebral Obama media discourse:
“Of course, if there’s one thing we’ve learned about the political media of late, it’s that remarks and displays like these won’t satiate complaining pundits. If I had to predict the response, I’d say we’ll see one media contingent complain that this wasn’t enough emotion, since the president didn’t literally start screaming and pummeling BP officials. A second will suggest Obama “lost his cool” by expressing passion. And a third group will complain that the president said “ass” on a morning show. Drudge has already said Obama went “street” with his comments.”
During the Today Show interview, Lauer asked Obama to respond to critics that he was not angry enough, over the Deepwater Horizon disaster. Lauer asked if Obama didn’t want to “kick some but” and personally telephone BP CEO Tony Hayward to let loose with some angry rhetoric:
“I was down there a month ago, before most of these talking heads were even paying attention to the Gulf,” Obama said. “A month ago, I was meeting with fishermen down there, standing in the rain talking about what a potential crisis this could be. And I don’t sit around just talking to experts because this is a college seminar — we talk to these folks because they potentially have the best answers, so I know whose ass to kick.”
President Obama also rejected the notion that he should engage in a public show of political theater to appease his critics. “This is not theater,” said Obama, adding “I don’t perform” to please cable programs.
When asked by Lauer to respond to the charge that the Gulf oil disaster wold damage his administration politically, much like Katrina did to the Bush presidency, Obama dismissed the political implications, to focus on the real damage suffered by Gulf residents:
“I’m not concerned about my politics right now. What I’m concerned about is what’s happening down in the Gulf, said Obama. And I guarantee you, that folks in the Gulf have been damaged by this oil spill. And livelihoods are at stake.”
President Obama also told Lauer that if he were Tony Hayward’s superiors, the beleaguered BP CEO would no longer have a job. Hayward recently made, such tin-eared public statements, as “I want my life back.” “He wouldn’t be working for me after any of those statements,” said the President.
The full interview can be found here.
Watch a clip: