After Barack Obama finally held an open press conference 309 days after his previous one and more than five weeks after the Deepwater Horizon blowout in the Gulf, I fully expected his defenders in the media to rush back to his side and declare him The Most Caring, Wonderful, and Transparent President Evah. The White House probably did, too, which is what makes the continued blasts from Chris Matthews and now Maureen Dowd so remarkable. Unlike Matthews, Dowd spends some of her time defending Obama’s deliberative mien, but concludes in the end that perhaps Bill Clinton should get a gig as “Feeler in Chief,” as the irony of the title completely eludes Dowd:
Obama and top aides who believe in his divinity make a mistake to dismiss complaints of his aloofness as Washington white noise. He treats the press as a nuisance rather than examining his own inability to encapsulate Americans’ feelings.
“The media may get tired of the story, but we will not,” he told Gulf Coast residents when he visited on Friday. Actually, if it weren’t for the media, the president would probably never have woken up from his torpor and flown down there.
Instead of getting Bill Clinton to offer Joe Sestak a job, Obama should be offering Clinton one. Bill would certainly know how to gush at a gusher gone haywire. Let him resume a cameo role as Feeler in Chief. The post is open.
And it comes with a White House office, an intern, and a fully-stocked humidor! But I digress.
This isn’t the first time Dowd has exploded at Obama’s lack of engagement and effort. In the wake of the EunuchBomber’s attempt to blow up a Northwest flight on Christmas Day, she ripped Obama’s dispassionate reaction and the administration’s obvious lack of urgency in dealing with terrorism. Dowd highlighted Obama’s dedication to the golf links as opposed to his dedication to the job, granting him that most cutting of liberal accolades: “Heck of a job, Barry.”
In fact, Dowd channels her inner right-wing fury in this attack:
He’s spending the holiday weekend in Chicago when he should be commemorating Memorial Day here with the families of troops killed in battle and with veterans at Arlington Cemetery.
That’s a little unfair, for reasons I mentioned in this post. Obama will commemorate Memorial Day at a national cemetery in the Chicago area, and other Presidents have done less without attracting criticism for it. On the other hand, those Presidents haven’t developed a consensus about their lack of depth for the position as Obama has, especially in the last few weeks:
Republican senators who had a contentious lunch with the president last week described him as whiny, thin-skinned and in over his head, and there was extreme Democratic angst at the White House’s dilatory and deferential attitude on the spill.
So if he’s whiny and thin-skinned, Obama’s problem isn’t that he doesn’t feel anything. It’s that he only feels when the issue relates directly to Obama. We can cancel the humidor and the cigars, in other words, and actually give Obama a title that once belonged to Clinton: The Big Me.
Addendum: As I continue to think about the unintentional hilarity of suggesting Clinton for “Feeler in Chief,” the worse it looks. How did Dowd’s column ever make it past a New York Times editor?