Media — and others — oddly unimpressed with presidential re-reruns

posted at 9:21 am on June 15, 2012 by Ed Morrissey

Rule Number One for major addresses and for presidential press conferences is this: a President had better have a good reason for announcing either one.  If the speech or the statement doesn’t break new ground — indeed, if it turns out to be the fiftieth iteration of a speech or statement made at the beginning of a presidency — the anticlimax will lead the media to think that the President has run out of ideas, or worse, is simply lying to cover for that fact.  Instead of just going to Ohio to campaign, however, Barack Obama and his team decided to promote his speech yesterday as a major “reframing” of his economic message, and ended up breaking both rules.  The media didn’t take long to rip the speech as a dull and long-winded repetition of practically every speech on the economy over the last four years, including the normally friendly environs of MSNBC.

Nor is that the only normally-friendly corner ripping Obama, and not just for the dull repetition.  For instance, can readers guess which columnist wrote this?

I had high hopes for President Obama’s speech on the economy. But instead of going to Ohio on Thursday with a compelling plan for the future, the president gave Americans a falsehood wrapped in a fallacy.

The falsehood is that he has been serious about cutting government spending. The fallacy is that this election will be some sort of referendum that will break the logjam in Washington.

It wasn’t Charles Krauthammer (who would surely not have had high hopes for the speech), but his Washington Post colleague Dana Milbank.  I’m not sure why Milbank had high hopes for the speech; Obama has repeatedly violated Rule 1 in both press conferences and speeches promoted as “major addresses” without delivering anything new.

Milbank hammers Obama for his rank dishonesty and false equivalence on spending cuts by claiming that both Democrats and Republicans have “laid out their policies on the table”:

Obama has made no serious proposal to fix the runaway entitlement programs that threaten to swamp the government’s finances.

“My own deficit plan would strengthen Medicare and Medicaid for the long haul by slowing the growth of health-care costs — not shifting them to seniors and vulnerable families,” Obama said. “And my plan would reduce our yearly domestic spending to its lowest level as a share of the economy in nearly 60 years.”

That’s incorrect. As Politifact has pointed out, Obama’s claim that he would reduce annual domestic spending to a percentage of gross domestic product not seen in 60 years is true only if you don’t count the enormous spending on programs such as Medicare. (Obama presumably means he would cut domestic discretionary spending to a 60-year low, a lesser boast.)

Of more concern is Obama’s nonsensical claim that he has a deficit plan that would strengthen Medicare for the long haul. He has called for doubling Medicare spending over the next 10 years, to nearly $1 trillion in 2022. His cuts in the rate of growth amount to just a few percentage points. As The Post’s Lori Montgomery has reported, the president’s 2013 budget marked “the second year in a row Obama has ignored calls to restructure Social Security and Medicare entitlement programs.”

Nor was Milbank and MSNBC’s Jonathan Alter the only people in the media to notice that Obama offered nothing new, and spent a lot of time delivering it.  Politicker aggregated media tweets during the event, and noted that some even begged the President to stop:

Prior to President Barack Obama’s marathon 54 minute speech in Ohio today, the Obama campaign sent our several statements promising the speech would be a major address framing the campaign going forward. Despite the hype, the speech was mainly a rehash of themes and ideas from the president’s recent stump speeches and his remarks were widely panned as overly long by the political press corps. …

All of these points have already been featured in the president’s other recent speeches. Between the pre-speech hype from the campaign, the lack of new material and the overall length of the speech reporters were clearly dissatisfied with end result. Read on for a sampling of Tweets from the political press slamming the president’s speech.

MSNBC’s Mike O’Brien checked out halfway through:

My friend Olivier Knox at Yahoo wondered whether the official transcript would be published in novel-length form:

Zeke Miller stuck to the facts:

It wasn’t just the media, either.  In a development which should deeply worry  Team Obama, Democratic Rep. Mark Critz of the critical state of Pennsylvania immediately followed the speech with a statement blasting Obama, hoping to put as much distance as possible between himself and the President:

Battered by a once-again slackening economic recovery, Democrats of late have publicly betrayed their concerns about President Obama. That criticism reached a fever pitch Thursday, when Rep. Mark Critz, D-Pa., issued an unsolicited rebuke to the White House moments after the president’s high-profile economic speech ended.

“President Obama and others in Washington need to realize that we cannot spend our way to prosperity and that to in order to create jobs,” Critz, who represents much of the late John Murtha’s district around the Western Pennsylvania town of Johnstown. “We need to address unfair trade deals that ship jobs overseas and enact policies that allow us to take advantage of our vast natural resources such as coal and natural gas in a safe and responsible manner which will lower energy costs and create jobs and approving the Keystone XL Pipeline would be a good first step.”
Ouch. Not even a passing criticism of Republicans or any momentary mention of protecting popular safety net programs like Social Security or Medicare. Just a head-on, unqualified attack at his own party’s leader.

Ouch, indeed.  If Critz is running away from Obama so dramatically, what does that say about Obama’s chances in Pennsylvania?

That’s what happens when a party leader repeatedly sets up his own team for disillusionment and disappointment.  It’s akin to Lucy and the football, and it’s not conservatives who are getting repeatedly disillusioned by these stunts.  Conservatives already knew that Barack Obama was a one-note President who had no ability to come up with a Plan B.  He’s run out of gas, intellectually and on policy, and can’t help himself from offering the same speech over and over again with increasing stridency in the hope that people start believing it again.  The only effect that this has is to make his intellectual bankruptcy unmistakable to independents and even to his own allies on the Left.  The more this continues, the fewer people Obama will have to line up to kick his football in this election.

Update: Turns out I’m not the only one to use the Lucy-and-the-football analogy.  ABC’s Amy Walter tweeted me shortly after the post went up:

Like I said, it’s not support from conservatives that Obama risks losing with disillusionment …

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I didn’t know marxist-progressive-socialist-liberal loons listened to their ‘leaders’ speeches. I thought they just sat, smiled, and laughed, and clapped robotically.

yhxqqsn on June 15, 2012 at 10:57 AM

Axelrod or whoever allowed Obama to ramble on for 54 minutes without saying anything should be fired by noon today.

Paraphrasing a note from Big Nate on Twitter, I’ll bet you a 64-oz Big Gulp to drink on the steps of Gracie Mansion that it was Obama’s call all the way. Remember, sometime in the first year he whined “My words have weight!” He also believes himself to be his own best speechwriter. The man believes to his core that everything he has to say is major.

It is this self-deluding quality that defines Obama. Like Gatsby, he “sprang from his Platonic conception of himself. He [is] a son of God … and he must be about His Father’s business, the service of a vast, vulgar and meretricious beauty.”

Obama is a mere propagandist. He spouts lofty-sounding epigrams and fills the air with glitter-dust all in service of his own myth. But now the realities of the world he wants to create are there for all to see: an economy mired in quicksand, an overreaching government serving tendentious goals, a public economy that cannot be sustained and a complete, total and willful inability on his part to present a single proposal of any sense (when your own budgets repeatedly go down without a single affirmative vote, what more do you really need to know?)

As things stand, the election is Romney’s to lose.

UnrepentantCurmudgeon on June 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

Glad to see Democrats and their propagandists (eg, the media) are seeing the light, but they get second dubs when jobs start returning to the economy under Romney. After all, they were ones sneering when we warned, and warned loudly, that job creators were going Galt with all the regulatory crap and government seizures of future capital (also known as “deficit spending”).

So we get the first jobs that are created and they can suck wind for awhile. It’ll be good for them.

MTF on June 15, 2012 at 11:00 AM

@ crazy_legs on June 15, 2012 at 9:41 AM

Very VERY well said!

conservative4freedom on June 15, 2012 at 11:01 AM

Poor Obama has no clue what to do next. He’s made two big mistakes in about a week – offering up a press conference like he had something important to say and instead gaffed big time – then announcing a major speech on the economy that obviously wasn’t. It’s as if he needs to impress people that he has important things to say and pay attention to him. But it’s the same old whine and not in new bottles either.

People are sick of him cavorting around with the elites while we’re pinching pennies. It’s plain to see that he’s not doing his job at all, so we all wonder why we’re paying him a salary. The more we see kisser and hear his blather daily on TV, the worse his poll numbers become. Keep it up, champ. I can see November from my house!

Bob in VA on June 15, 2012 at 11:03 AM

This speech was written by Repetitive Redundancy Incorporated, Inc.

rhit87 on June 15, 2012 at 11:06 AM

In fairness to Obama, he is doing the same thing he did at the beginning of his term and he doesn’t understand why the media is no longer lapping it up as the best speechifying ever.

txmomof6 on June 15, 2012 at 11:07 AM

Conservatives already knew that Barack Obama was a one-note President who had no ability to come up with a Plan B. He’s run out of gas, intellectually and on policy, and can’t help himself from offering the same speech over and over again with increasing stridency in the hope that people start believing it again. The only effect that this has is to make his intellectual bankruptcy unmistakable to independents and even to his own allies on the Left.


Obama had a Plan A???? Who knew????

….and he “ran out of gas”???? I thought Obama was wind-powered!!!

landlines on June 15, 2012 at 11:19 AM

Here’s the irony….

We had to listen to it to see what wasn’t in it.

right2bright on June 15, 2012 at 9:30 AM

That’s funny.

But it isn’t true.

Out of respect for the country he represents, and the [albeit misguided] voters who elected him, I gave this Jackass-in-Chief 2+ years to prove he was capable of ultimately becoming a worthy President.

But he hasn’t grown, evolved, matured or improved since he stopped getting his own way. What a pathetic individual. What hope does he have for personal change?

So I no longer have to listen to his speeches to know what isn’t in them. He will always blame everyone else for why he is a lazy, unskilled and impotent politician and suggest that we should exempt him from having to work at solving our country’s problems.

There. I just told you what was in the speech without boring you with all the angst.

rwenger43 on June 15, 2012 at 11:22 AM

rwenger43 on June 15, 2012 at 11:22 AM


OldEnglish on June 15, 2012 at 11:32 AM

I’m not sure why Milbank had high hopes for the speech

Because Milbank is still a ‘true believer’.

How many times does someone need to get kicked in the crotch before it dawns on them that their Obamassiah is an empty suit?

GarandFan on June 15, 2012 at 11:41 AM

@EdMorrissey at a focus group in CO this week, an actual voter used the term “Lucy and the football”. Also, some Tim Tebow references

Tim Tebow??? Not sure I see the connection.

KS Rex on June 15, 2012 at 2:27 PM

Calling it a “reframing” was a dead giveaway that it would be BS.

That’s a word that experts use behind the scenes in discussions about how they intend to influence opinion. In public, the use of the word is disastrous. It tells everyone that they have no new ideas, but are just reframing, repackaging, BS-ing the old ones because everyone is stupid to figure it out.

forest on June 15, 2012 at 2:32 PM

Maybe someone already mentioned this up thread. If so, I apologize. Is it possible that Obama needed a speech to make this an “official” trip so he could bill the taxpayers for a campaign trip? So someone just threw something together?

hopeful on June 15, 2012 at 2:41 PM

Obama followed up his worthless speech by announcing he will add 800,000 illegals to compete with unemployed Americans for the nonexistent jobs he’s created.

jqc1970 on June 15, 2012 at 4:03 PM

@EdMorrissey at a focus group in CO this week, an actual voter used the term “Lucy and the football”. Also, some Tim Tebow references

Tim Tebow??? Not sure I see the connection

It was a focus group in Colorado, where there are still true believers…in Tebow, if not in Obama.

brambo_42 on June 16, 2012 at 8:58 AM