October 26, 2010

THE INCREDIBLE SHRINKING UNICORN RIDER:

White House Goes Into Bunker Mode :As the GOP prepares for a rout in November (The Daily Beast’s Election Oracle forecasts a 50/50 split in the Senate and a substantial Republican lead in the House), the Obama team seems powerless to stop it. Howard Kurtz on its fascinating belief that the bully pulpit has been downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention. (Howard Kurtz, 10/25/10, Daily Beast)

Obama certainly bears responsibility for a wide range of missteps and a perverse talent for turning winning (on the Hill) into losing (in the court of public opinion). But what’s fascinating is the belief that the bully pulpit has been permanently downsized, forcing the leader of the free world to shout for attention in a cacophonous world.

It sounds absurd: Obama can instantly command attention any time he wants. He can pop onto the Today show, plop himself on Jay Leno’s couch, get himself on the cover of The New York Times Magazine, chat up the kids on MTV, diagram basketball brackets on ESPN. This week he’ll drop by The Daily Show and match wits with Jon Stewart. Everything he says is news.

But he has to compete with the din created by Gawker, Glenn Beck, baseball, Hardball, Oprah, Olbermann, O’Reilly, SNL, Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube.


Huh? Why did they decide to make those trifles his peers? Had the Administration not trotted him out at the drop of a hat then the bully pulpit would still have its value, as it did when W announced his stem cell decision and in his series of post-911 speeches.

It's an open question whether Mr. Obama ever had it in him to be a significant personage, but in treating his office like a Twitterfeed he certainly helped make himself even more insignificant.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at October 26, 2010 6:24 AM
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