Did the “full Ginsburg” work?

posted at 9:30 am on September 21, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

The Beltway media crowd had marveled this weekend over Barack Obama’s interview tour de force, appearing on five Sunday talk shows in pre-taped segments with different hosts.  The President appeared on all of the networks except for Fox News, indicating that Chris Wallace’s assessment of the White House as “the biggest bunch of crybabies” was probably accurate.  Obama got plenty of real estate on the tube this weekend in doing his “full Ginsburg,” but was it effective?  Did Obama make a better argument for health-care reform?

Howard Kurtz says it was the same old song once again:

Sure, this is a president who has dissected basketball brackets on ESPN, gone for burgers with Brian Williams, showed Steve Kroft his swing set, dissed Kanye West (off the record) with CNBC and ordered a general to shave Stephen Colbert’s head. By that standard, Obama’s Sunday blitz was a mere throat-clearing that, as it turned out, produced little in the way of big news. And some journalists — even as they continue to clamor for access — say he is diluting the product. …

So did Obama score?

While the White House plan was for Obama to focus primarily on health care and Afghanistan, he broke no new ground on either subject, repeating points he has made many times. Some topics varied — “State of the Union” host John King asked about North Korea; “This Week” host George Stephanopoulos asked about the ACORN scandal — but the game plans were strikingly similar.

This has been the problem with Obama for the last several months.   He keeps demanding access to valuable television time, which politicians usually do when they have something new to say.  Obama then uses either prime time or Sunday political talk shows to say essentially the same thing he’s been saying since April on health-care reform.  It’s as if the White House and Obama just can’t comprehend that people won’t swallow the party line without question, and instead of recalculating the bill or their approach, simply turn up the volume.

This runs the real risk of exposing Obama as an empty suit.  Most politicians find ways to win debates by adjusting or creating new, compelling arguments for their position.  Obama hasn’t had a new idea in months, really ever since Inauguration Day.  He’s playing a game of gotcha with the broadcasters in demanding all of this time, and showing up with nothing at all original.  Audiences have already begun to notice, and after this circus act that tied up their top-rank interviewers for 15-minute meetups on Friday, the broadcasters will begin to tire of the circus soon enough.

When Obama first launched his campaign, I described him as someone who impressed me as a mile wide and an inch deep.  Obama is a raconteur who can have good dinner conversation on a wide variety of topics, but once you scratch the surface, would be exposed as having little knowledge of any beyond slogans and populist groupthink.  His inability to rebut arguments and to produce new strategies, as well as his appalling lack of understanding of competition and the free market, corroborates my initial analysis.

Update: I’m not the only one reaching the “mile wide, inch deep” conclusion.  Edward Lucas writes in yesterday’s London Telegraph that Obama looks seriously out of his depth:

Regimes in Moscow, Pyongyang and Tehran simply pocket his concessions and carry on as before. The picture emerging from the White House is a disturbing one, of timidity, clumsiness and short-term calculation. Some say he is the weakest president since Jimmy Carter.

The grizzled veterans of the Democratic leadership in Congress have found Mr Obama and his team of bright young advisers a pushover. That has gravely weakened his flagship domestic campaign, for health-care reform, which fails to address the greatest weakness of the American system: its inflated costs. His free trade credentials are increasingly tarnished too. His latest blunder is imposing tariffs on tyre imports from China, in the hope of gaining a little more union support for health care. But at a time when America’s leadership in global economic matters has never been more vital, that is a dreadful move, hugely undermining its ability to stop other countries engaging in a ruinous spiral of protectionism.

Even good moves are ruined by bad presentation. Changing Mr Bush’s costly and untried missile-defence scheme for something workable was sensible. But offensively casual treatment of east European allies such as Poland made it easy for his critics to portray it as naïve appeasement of the regime in Moscow. …

The man who has run nothing more demanding than the Harvard Law Review is beginning to look out of his depth in the world’s top job. His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.


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Update: I’m not the only one reaching the “mile wide, inch deep” conclusion. Edward Lucas writes in yesterday’s London Telegraph that Obama looks seriously out of his depth:

Gee, ya’ think.

roux on September 21, 2009 at 10:29 AM

We had five chances to “Check out the big brain on Barry!” We were no more impressed than Jules was.

Akzed on September 21, 2009 at 10:32 AM

OK this is an honest question. What does Obama do from here – it’s pretty clear that his speeches aren’t going to move the numbers on this much, so what he’s got is somewhere b/w 55-60% (maybe 65% as time goes on) against this beast of a plan. Do they plan to ram it through with Dems only, and if so, what are they waiting for? A bill could be crafted in a short period of time (it could’ve been done already, and may be) do they pass it w/the slimmest of margins and claim victory?

The reason that I ask this is that Obama’s stategy seems psychotic at best (I know, I know) with this. The public doesn’t want it, his efforts seem to be getting him nowhere (and may be making things worse), he (and some Dems) claims that this is a moral crusade and personal politcs be damned (undercut by the fact that they have the numbers and yet won’t pass it), and yet they keep dragging this thing out. Maybe the gray matter is a little foggy taody but I just don’t get what he’s doing. Maybe expecting logic from the illogical is what we mhave here.

volnation on September 21, 2009 at 10:33 AM

And maybe, just maybe, he wasn’t legitimately elected.

Just starting to wonder.

stenwin77 on September 21, 2009 at 9:48 AM

“Welcome to the party, pal!”

Blacksmith8 on September 21, 2009 at 10:34 AM

It would have been more impressive if Obama had allowed himself to be questioned by each show’s panel, not just the sychophant,errr senior correspondent. Letting even the likes of George Will or David Brooks have a shot at him was too much for Obama’s fragile psyche.

xkaydet65 on September 21, 2009 at 10:35 AM

Isn’t Snake River Canyon about one mile wide?

joeeddie on September 21, 2009 at 10:37 AM

This man in a fool.

No executive experience, no business experience, no economics training, no military experience, no legislative accomplishments.

Whats not to like? Perfect President.

Dr_Irish on September 21, 2009 at 10:39 AM

This “Full Ginsberg” schtick took away from the real news of the day…the Lions going 0-19.

2X(0-16) YES WE CAN!

Goldenavatar on September 21, 2009 at 10:41 AM

I’m a pastor and missed the Sunday Shows, but I read snippets about his distance from the race issue ahead of time. I wondered if he was going to change his talk to a more general conversation in big government v small government ideology. That might be an argument he could sell to the casual politico if he could ever halt the polarizing stump speeches, born deep within his well developed persecution complex.

A move from, “the other guys are evil Nazi, obstructionists,” to his professorial tone saying, “they want small government, I want to make sure the needs are met by someone…” might engage the moderates in the middle who only watch the 6:00 news.

I can see him now painting Dubya as the last failed paragon of Reagan’s conservative ideals, ending with, “if the rich won’t help the poor voluntarily, someone should. Why not let us try?”

Never mind Dubya’s slide from social conservatism to conservative socialism is hardly a model of fiscal restraint, a change in tone doesn’t mean he’ll start telling the truth. Fortunately, it seems that our Neophyte in Chief hasn’t figure out that he’s not lobbying the Chicago Housing Authority.

realityunwound on September 21, 2009 at 10:41 AM

But at a time when America’s leadership in global economic matters has never been more vital

Well, let’s recall that the world was telling us we must vote for the brilliant and inspiring Obama. Be careful what you wish for, Skippy.

DrMagnolias on September 21, 2009 at 10:42 AM

“Obama hasn’t had a new idea in months…”

Wrong. He’s never had a new idea. There are no new ideas on the Left. Ever. Leftism is anaerobic, a sealed world of a few precepts continually re-cycled, re-spun, re-packaged. To offer a new idea is, of itself, a violation of Leftism, grounds for banishment.

rrpjr on September 21, 2009 at 10:44 AM

Obama views these segments as FREE commercials. What else should we expect from people who think money grows on trees.

javamartini on September 21, 2009 at 10:45 AM

He’s selling a clunker for cash.

John the Libertarian on September 21, 2009 at 10:46 AM

Michael Barone makes the brilliantly simple point in this column that liberals just aren’t used to being disagreed with.

That goes doubly so for the Anointed One, for a number of equally obvious reasons.

Nobody else seems to have noticed another point, quoted in the NYT, that Obama made in that interview with Stephanopoulos.

In his interview on ABC, Mr. Obama was asked whether he had a moment during the first eight months of his presidency when realized that he needed to do better.

“I think there have been times where I have said, ‘I’ve got to step up my game

in terms of talking to the American people about issues like health care,’ ” Mr. Obama said.

His interviewer, George Stephanopoulos, said: “You lost control?”

“Well, not so much lost control, but where I’ve said to myself, somehow I’m not breaking through,” Mr. Obama said, calling health care “a sufficiently tough, complicated issue with so many moving parts.”

“It’s very hard for people to get their whole arms around it,” Mr. Obama said. “And that’s been a case where I have been humbled.”

In other words, what humbles the Nation’s Professor is not any reflection that his arguments might be flawed, but rather that he underestimated the stupidity of his students. That’s why he’s going to keep on explaining over and over until we dullards finally “get it.”

Drained Brain on September 21, 2009 at 10:47 AM

His Joint Session, multiple speeches and Sunday blitz wasn’t about moving the numbers of the “People.” It was about moving the numbers within the Democrats in the House and Senate.

He does not need the “People”, he just needs them for 14 more months.

barnone on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Crybabies’ “full Ginsburg” missed FOX live, couldn’t walk the walk en route to media bail-out.

Howard Kurtz: By that standard, Obama’s Sunday blitz was a mere throat-clearing that, as it turned out, produced little in the way of big news.

…a mere throat clearing that accomplished little more than dislodging Paterson as flem.

maverick muse on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

My husband’s 85 year old parents were talking about medicare. Even at their advanced age, they know adding another 30, 40 million people to the program and cutting out 500 million bucks will mean even worse service and lots of rationing.

Obama isn’t fooling the old folks, that’s for sure. They know basic math. They aren’t STUPID, and feel rightfully insulted.

marybel on September 21, 2009 at 9:57 AM

No offense, but there’s a typo it’s $500 Billion and it’s going broke without the cut and without all the illegals. Thank you CRA, ACORN, Citi, Fannie, Freddie, Raines, Rangel, Dodd, Pelosi, Reid, Carter, Clinton, Waters, Jackson, Paulsen, Geitner, Greenspan, and Bernanke.

Blacksmith8 on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

“mile wide, inch deep”, “full ginsburg”

Please, I don’t comment on pron topics.

faraway on September 21, 2009 at 10:55 AM

This runs the real risk of exposing Obama as an empty suit.

And people are finally waking up to this only now?

GarandFan on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Again, we’re back to the first principle, deterence. Better to have the system in place, while building a track record of successful tests.

NeighborhoodCatLady on September 21, 2009 at 10:14 AM

“There’s a bear in the woods.” Doesn’t it make since to be prepared?

Blacksmith8 on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

A Rodent in Shining Armor

The metal An average of polls still show the man at 52% approval. The pop culture will continue to sell his coolness, the remaining libs will attack any and all critics and the Chicago staff will operate political gamesmanship at a high level.

Losing some plates A large crack will arise from his media organs’ discovering that parroting his talking points and lying about, or ignoring, events does not ring the cash registers.

Small chink in his suit is his visceral response to some issues, like Gates.

Arrow from Longbow The development of a problem that can’t be blamed on President Bush and which is so noticable that it has to be reported without lies or spin. I am not holding my breath.

You just skip the following unless you want info on some new media currents I have been noticing.

On Sunday at 5 PM on Fox a republican Congressman had his head handed to him by a talking Dem. The Dem even went so far as to aver that the administration’s foreign policy was a success. No answer from the Repub. Huh? Has anyone noticed how Korea and Iran have come to heel while The One has blessed us with His leadership? I also noticed that the Fox anchor actually jumped down the Repubs throat when he referred to the One’s ‘apology tour’.

I believe that Fox gets more tame every time the White House shafts them. Didn’t The One talk about “working the refs”?

Meantime, the NYT, probably feeling the loss of all credibility, actually covered the Edwards scandal.

I’m wondering if the media will all move to the center. Well, slightly.

IlikedAUH2O on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Karl Rove and Ari Fleischer predicted this months ago—around the time of Obama’s first press conference (the enchantment one)—and they advised conservatives to adopt a strategy that didn’t get much airtime:

Give Obama as much rope as he wants.

When I first heard this “overexposure” argument about Obama I was incredulous whether or not it was a good idea to keep encouraging the media to let Obama exercise his rhetorical ability. But now I think I agree, the public will get tired of hearing Obama speak much much MUCH sooner than Obama will get tired of hearing himself speak.

Eventually it will dilute not just the issue he’s tackling at the moment, but it will weaken his ability to promote ALL the issues he stands for.

At this rate, given enough airtime, it’s conceivable that Obama can talk himself into irrelevance.

Khorum on September 21, 2009 at 11:01 AM

Every time I see Obama on TV I think of the I Love Lucy Show.
While the world may of loved that show, and called it comic genius, 50 years of me seeing it over and over and over in syndication tends to push me to revulsion when ever I hit a station playing it.

Jeff from WI on September 21, 2009 at 11:03 AM

A poor player
That struts and frets his hour upon the stage
And then is heard no more: it is a tale
Told by an idiot, full of sound and fury,
Signifying nothing.
Shakespeare

Marco on September 21, 2009 at 11:03 AM

I’m a big Letterman fan, but he’s an unabashed Obama supporter.

Still, I’m hoping against hope that he’ll do something, anything, amusing during the interview tonight. He’s a smart interviewer, and asks tough questions of, well, Republican candidates.

YYZ on September 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM

since s/b sense
Who typed this drivel?

Blacksmith8 on September 21, 2009 at 11:09 AM

His credibility is seeping away, and it will require concrete achievements rather than more soaring oratory to recover it.

Too bad soaring oratory is all he’s got.

Kafir on September 21, 2009 at 11:14 AM

Watching an Obama interview is like watching a rampant global warming enthusiast being read a new scientific report concluding that the Earth has been cooling for 10 years. Or like eating out of a septic tank. One of the two. No, just exactly like both scenerios. He actually makes me gag just listening to him talk. “Empty suit” is like the understatement of the last 5000 years.

Griz on September 21, 2009 at 11:16 AM

I’m a big Letterman fan, but he’s an unabashed Obama supporter.

Still, I’m hoping against hope that he’ll do something, anything, amusing during the interview tonight. He’s a smart interviewer, and asks tough questions of, well, Republican candidates.

YYZ on September 21, 2009 at 11:04 AM

Even after all the Palin bashing Bitterman has done. If I was you I would be ashamed to admit I watch Bitterman. Have some principles and stand for something at least.

Clyde5445 on September 21, 2009 at 11:18 AM

So we have MicHELLe going for a 20 minute shopping spree the other day and THE ONE doing the rounds with his propagandists… just how much did all that end up costing the taxpayers?

CynicalOptimist on September 21, 2009 at 11:24 AM

His credibility is seeping away

To those of us with eyes and ears, his credibility seeped away the first time we heard him open his mouth!

Christian Conservative on September 21, 2009 at 11:28 AM

It would have been more impressive if Obama had allowed himself to be questioned by each show’s panel…

Good point.

It would have been more impressive, and perhaps the end of this foolish charade, if Obamba would allow himself to be questioned by any competent trial lawyer, under oath, for the same 15 minutes.

Call it his 15 minutes of shame.

Or our 15 minutes of truth.

He’s a contradiction wrapped in a conundrum, propped up by straws, held together with chewing gum and baling wire. Or something like that — put it all in a blender and pour it into your favorite Obama-shaped mug and — voila — I give you — POTUS Obama.

Or, as I call him, TACPTPOTUS (The Actor Currently Playing The President Of The United States).

IndieDogg on September 21, 2009 at 11:32 AM

It’s a fail. Or, as my juvenile human would put it, an Epic Fail.

I happened to glance at the front page of Obama’s hometown newspaper, the Chicago Tribune, this morning … among the other stuff, I found this article:

http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-tc-nw-obama-tv-0920-0921sep21,0,4877251.story

Obama thinks he’s not “breaking through”. I’m not 100% sure what “breaking through” means, but it seems to me he’s like the door-to-door salesman who just keeps coming back, trusting that his persistence will eventually wear down the potential customer.

This seems bizarre to me in a President. I don’t recall Carter or Clinton trying to sell me on stuff I don’t want, they either had the votes to pass it and did, sneak it around by executive order if necessary, or if there was just no way, they tried to hang the failure on the Repubs… sometimes with some success.

Unfortunately, as all sales types who succeed discover, it’s not about how hard you try to “break through”, it’s about both having a product or service the customer wants, and having enough trust with the customer that they’ll give you money for the product or service.

So, Mr. Obama, I see you have stopped by again. I’ve put my “no solicitors” sign out, I will thank you to respect it in the future. I am happy with my insurance plan, and have no intention of changing it. Please take yourself off my property. Now.

Mew

acat on September 21, 2009 at 11:36 AM

it’s $500 Billion and it’s going broke without the cut and without all the illegals. Thank you CRA, ACORN, Citi, Fannie, Freddie, Raines, Rangel, Dodd, Pelosi, Reid, Carter, Clinton, Waters, Jackson, Paulsen, Geitner, Greenspan, and Bernanke.

Blacksmith8 on September 21, 2009 at 10:54 AM

Let’s not leave out GWBush/RINO Congress and Medicare Part D. Progressives come in Red as well…

Empiricist on September 21, 2009 at 11:56 AM

Keep talking Barry.

farright on September 21, 2009 at 12:03 PM

He keeps demanding access to valuable television time, which politicians usually do when they have something new to say. Obama then uses either prime time or Sunday political talk shows to say essentially the same thing he’s been saying since April on health-care reform.

I heard this weekend that Hugo Chavez has a weekly show called “El Presidente” or something. And it’s pretty boring as he will often drone on for more than an hour and a half. All the TV stations have to air it.

I think Ogabe is borrowing a page from his old friend Hugo.

Still … if we could kind of pen-up Ogabe to an hour and a half segment per week … I’d be supportive if it meant he stayed off the tube the rest of the week.

I can easily turn off the tube an hour and half every week. I’ve been meaning to start an exercise program – that would be good tredmill time I suppose.

HondaV65 on September 21, 2009 at 12:03 PM

“I think it’s important for the media — you know, not to do any media-bashing here — to recognize that right now, in this 24-hour news cycle, the easiest way to get on CNN or FOX or any of the other stations — MSNBC — is to just say something rude and outrageous,” Obama said. “And, you know, part of what I’d like to see is all of us reward decency and civility in our political discourse. That doesn’t mean you can’t be passionate, and that doesn’t mean that you can’t speak your mind. But I think we can all sort of take a step back here and remind ourselves who we are as a people.”

Enter 24hr Media Czar?

NickelAndDime on September 21, 2009 at 12:08 PM

The worst thing for Barack’s pathetic media blitz was that he claimed he didn’t know that ACORN received federal funds.

You lie, Barry!

Buy Danish on September 21, 2009 at 12:15 PM

Wasn’t this really a 4/5s Ginsburg?

I understand the rationale of leaving out Fox — I heard the statement, but it is the statement of a petulant child, not the leader of the greatest nation on earth.

scm on September 21, 2009 at 12:16 PM

he broke no new ground on either subject, repeating points he has made many times

“yes we can WHAT?”

TN Mom on September 21, 2009 at 12:28 PM

I’m not the only one reaching the “mile wide, inch deep” conclusion.

Three feet wide and NO depth – only two-dimensional.

The suit has no emperor.

Mangy Scot on September 21, 2009 at 12:33 PM

It’s as if the White House and Obama just can’t comprehend that people won’t swallow the party line without question, and instead of recalculating the bill or their approach, simply turn up the volume.

Eh, it’s not that incomprehensible – after all, a year ago it worked just great for him.

Message to Barry: Not all Republicans are like Johnny Mac though. Pretty much none of the conservative-leaning ones are, and more self-proclaimed “independents” lean conservative-individualist (especially on government spending!) than lean statist-leftist. Just some food for thought as we close in on the 3/4 point… of the first 1/4 of your term.

Blacksmith on September 21, 2009 at 12:35 PM

I heard pundits discussing the removal of missile shield technology and one saying that “only 50% of the systems actually work”… assuming he meant that the systems work 50% of the time (else… let’s pick the 100% system and leave those silly 0% systems behind!) and that our short/mid-range systems are much more successful, so Iran is not a threat to us.
 
Actually, Iran is what I like a call a long-range enemy: if they have anything at all that could be a threat to us (they’ve demonstrated 3-stage rocket technology launching a satellite into orbit), it could only be the stuff we’ve just removed the shield to defend against.
 
I’d rather knock 5 out of 10 nukes out the sky before killing millions of Americans than just let all 10 through.
 
5*[millions] = (10*[millions]) / 2 !!!

CLaFarge on September 21, 2009 at 12:43 PM

The Brits will never be taken seriously until they learn how to spell. /s

SKYFOX on September 21, 2009 at 1:11 PM

Accurate polls would show 80% of the American people do not want obamunistcare. They do not want government health care in any way shape or form.

Health care is not something government should be involved in. Government could pave the way for competition by removing the barriers to competition, like the prohibition on insurers from offering insurance across state lines.

Bozo is an empty suit. A lot of us knew that.

dogsoldier on September 21, 2009 at 1:53 PM

He actually did not run the Harvard Law Review.

He was only the head on paper.

He did nothing.

Sapwolf on September 21, 2009 at 3:45 PM

Obama then uses either prime time or Sunday political talk shows to say essentially the same thing he’s been saying since April on health-care reform.

Except for the occasional gaffe, some mysteriously changing numbers, or pi$$ing us off with new snide comments, it’s actually the same stuff he’s been saying since at least the beginning of 2008.

Dr. ZhivBlago on September 21, 2009 at 5:20 PM

Did the “full Ginsburg” work?

NOPE

Its time for the “full monty”

macncheez on September 21, 2009 at 5:51 PM

I am sure the world thinks Obama is a pushover, a pushover who does not even like his own country all that much.

Terrye on September 21, 2009 at 5:58 PM

…his appalling lack of understanding of competition and the free market…

He’s way beyond appalling: he’s an out-and-out economic ignoramus. The “Profit to Earnings Ratio” Precedent couldn’t square the definition of tax with what’s proposed in “his” health care plan(s) and he “…absolutely reject[ed the] notion” that the bills contain tax increases.

“…the fact that you looked up Merriam’s dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you’re stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn’t have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition.”

He hasn’t a clue regarding economic policy and neither do his economic advisors. (And BTW, shouldn’t his argument that those without health insurance impose cost burdens on those who do — and this must be fixed — be applied equally forcefully in the field of income taxes, i.e., by mandate, every person should have to pay income taxes, or would that upset his politcal base of slacker liberal statists?)

ya2daup on September 21, 2009 at 6:30 PM

At what point will the knee-padded press stop taking it from him? Yes, they are ideological soul mates, but he’s killing their brand and making them look stupid in the process.

Which suits me fine.

leftnomore on September 21, 2009 at 7:42 PM

In watching this guy I finally figured out what bothers me about him: He is always pointing his fingers at people and has the body language of Old Benito Musselini. Jut the jaw, point the fingers, command the trains to run on time. I get the feeling the ‘whiskey delta’ reporters are intimidated and they look like they are being scolded by the neighbor who won’t give back the baseballs that land in his yard.

kens on September 22, 2009 at 10:01 AM

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