It’s easy to tell the pros from the amateurs. Pros understand that politics ain’t beanbag and know how to roll with the punches. Amateurs throw punches but get, er, flustered when punches come back. Earlier this month, the Washington Post reported which of these applies to Barack Obama in an article headlined, “President Obama bristles when he is the target of activist tactics he once used” (via Jennifer Rubin):
Obama looked taken aback by the direct confrontation from Salas and then turned to aides seated against the wall, according to several participants. The aides affirmed that, yes, criminals were the priority. …
The president spoke sternly. Several participants described him as defensive. One person said that, at times, Obama was “pissy.” …
The session began on a tense note when one of the participants, a young Colombian immigrant named Juan Rodriguez, refused to shake Obama’s hand as the president tried to greet him. Rodriguez, 20 at the time, had been invited to represent the “dreamers” who had walked from Miami but could not gain access to the White House because of their legal status. Rodriguez had recently gained legal residency.
“I’m sorry,” Rodriguez recalled telling Obama. He then started to tell the president that this breach of etiquette was a protest on behalf of fellow immigrants who could not attend. Obama, visibly annoyed, cut him off. “Okay, I get it. You’re not going to shake my hand,” the president said, quickly moving on to greet the next advocate. …
“Don’t know exactly why you’ve got to holler, because we already hear you, all right?” Obama said, trying to quiet the shouts from the crowd. CNN was airing the remarks live. Obama showed a rare public flash of anger when a woman could be heard yelling, “It’s time for equality for all Americans.” In a sarcastic tone, he said to the demonstrator, “I’m sorry, do you want to come up here?”
Obama later vented to one of his senior aides, Jim Messina, while leaving the event in his limousine. He didn’t see why these activists were angry with him when he was so clearly supportive of their cause, according to a person familiar with the conversation.
Of course, Obama finally took some action to mollify them, even if they’d be crazy to take advantage of it, as Greta van Susteren argued on Wednesday:
Under the president’s new immigration policy, those here illegally, but who came here before age 16 and are younger than 30 (and meet certain other qualifications) may sign up and get work permits. That might sound good… but think deeper. The president’s new policy is a TEMPORARY PROGRAM — a TWO YEAR PROGRAM. (Yes, it could be extended but right now it is only a two-year protection from deportation.)
To get that work permit, the person here illegally would have to admit being here illegally (why else would the person need a work permit?) and provide all sorts of personal info (e.g. where to find the person!) In other words, the person would be putting a big target on his or her back for ICE deportation in two years when the program expires (if not extended.)
What person here illegally (and in his right mind), will go to the government, announce being here illegally (e.g. plead guilty), provide all sorts of information as to where that person lives etc. to get a work permit only to be a target for deportation in two years? Or, perhaps sooner if Governor Romney is elected and he decides to cancel the temporary program? Answer: no one.
People here illegally are not looking for ways to identify themselves to the government for a temporary program. The president’s new immigration policy will be rationally perceived as simply bait for ICE, and not some great dream.
Reading the Washington Post article on both immigration and gay rights, it becomes pretty clear that Obama only did just enough to keep his own allies from being mean to him … and that’s even more amateurish.
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!