And so we come at last to the final Obamateurism of the oil-spill press conference … Barack Obama’s insistence that he has been so focused on the unfolding disaster in the Gulf that even his pre-teen daughter bugs him about it in the morning:
And so my job right now is just to make sure that everybody in the Gulf understands this is what I wake up to in the morning and this is what I go to bed at night thinking about — the spill. The — and it’s not just me, by the way. You know, when I woke up this morning, and I’m shaving, and Malia knocks on my bathroom door and she peeks in her head and she says, “Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?” — (soft laughter) — because I think everybody understands that, you know, when we are fouling the Earth like this, it has concrete implications not just for this generation but for future generations.
Perhaps she does. However, this has the feel of a carefully crafted Political Anecdote, which serves as both a Very Cute Family Moment but also as an Instructive Lesson on the True Victims of Said Disaster. Unfortunately, it also sounds a lot like the President with whom Obama has been increasingly compared: Jimmy Carter. In his 1980 debate against Ronald Reagan, Carter also tried playing the out-of-the-mouths-of-babes card, and wound up a national joke for it overnight:
Obama has been pretty good in his presidency in avoiding using his family as public-relations shields, which given his serious decline in the polls, has to be a huge temptation these days. That’s one of the reasons why this moment was so odd, apart from the fact that we were somehow asked to believe in Obama’s commitment to an issue not because of the lives it had already cost and the billions of dollars in damage the disaster was causing, but because his daughter bugged him about it one morning. It’s a laughably phony attempt to humanize his response to the Deepwater Horizon crisis.
Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.
Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!