Kick the Can
Even if you are not closely following the BP oil spill disaster, by now you have probably seen the clip of President Obama discussing his approach to determining precisely whose ass to kick so many times that you can recite it from memory. It is true that force of rhetoric is an important component of presidential leadership, and you shouldn’t underestimate the significance of the symbolic role played by the Commander-in-Chief during times of national crisis. But Obama’s careful choice of words in this particular instance strikes me as just too calculated for this late date in the Gulf catastrophe.
I understand that Obama was responding to Matt Lauer’s prompting on the desire of Americans to see him kick butt on this issue, but it is clear that mounting criticism of the president’s detached demeanor has finally gotten under his skin. Most telling is Obama’s additional comment about not holding a college seminar with experts on the subject, an obvious presidential retort to the relentless conservative mocking of him as an effete intellectual, rather than a man of action. Rhetorical sparks are often a necessary part of moving the political process past a crisis and toward recovery, but President Obama’s timing here was off.

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