Green Room

Maybe someone should ask Obama what papers and magazines HE reads

posted at 8:39 am on October 4, 2012 by

Some on the left think PBS moderator Jim Lehrer was partly to blame for the president’s poor showing in the first debate with Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney. No, it wasn’t Lehrer’s lack of control of the debaters—if anything, the free-roaming sparring of the candidates versus a micromanaged back-and-forth  was refreshing.

But the Obama campaign might want to pin some blame on the media in general for giving the president such an easy ride over the past four years. The president was completely unprepared for substantive push-back and thus ended up looking like the proverbial deer in the headlights during the many moments where Romney challenged the president’s assumptions.

On MSNBC the morning after, New York magazine’s John Heilemann, however, provided this excuse for Obama’s bad night: the president, having to handle the burdens of the office, didn’t have time to prepare adequately. But isn’t being president enough preparation? Incumbents have the advantage of living deep inside the issues being discussed. They shouldn’t have to study as hard as the challenger—they’ve participated in the policy battles under discussion.

But often, the president looked and sounded as if he didn’t really know what he was talking about or how to adequately answer Romney’s points. When Romney started discussing the flaws of Dodd-Frank legislation, for example, the president looked adrift and unsure, as if he didn’t really know the specific details Romney was mentioning and therefore couldn’t weigh in for fear of showing his ignorance. This prompted one member of my household to say: Romney should ask Obama if he’s actually read the bill.

Certainly, his debate performance indicated there was a good chance he’d not done so. He was without rhetorical weaponry. He had nothing to fight back with because it appeared he really didn’t know as much as Romney did about the issue at hand. This happened on more than one occasion, leading me to wonder what the heck the president was scribbling all those times he kept looking down and taking notes as if earnestly looking busy would demonstrate his command of the subjects.

On the few issues where he seemed comfortable with details, he played defense. In particular, on health care, Romney put the president in the position of spending precious time talking about how terrific the health care panels would be—not something Obama’s team has wanted to focus on, as a Wall Street Journal editorial noted:

In particular he put Mr. Obama on the defensive about the so-called Independent Payment Advisory Board, the 15-member “expert” and unelected commission that will tell doctors how to practice and seniors the treatments they are allowed to receive. The President struggled to stick to his own talking points, perhaps because the damaging details speak for themselves.

Again and again, Romney brought up details of various issues that seemed to leave the president befuddled, unable to adequately respond for fear of saying something uninformed. The president was virtually silent when Romney mentioned green energy company failures (and those companies’ connections to Obama donors), oil company tax deductions’ impact on small companies, and the lack of bipartisan support for Obamacare.

The president only had talking points, or the spin he might have read in liberal-leaning publications or heard on liberal-sympathetic TV. So he could try to talk about the importance of regulating financial institutions only in clichéd terms, but he gave no indication he really knew what was in that Dodd-Frank bill to begin with.

That leads me back to my earlier point: one of the reasons the president wasn’t prepared was because he’s not really faced an adversarial press. The media hasn’t been interested in the administration’s flaws, failures or even outright scandals. Dodd-Frank? Great idea! Green energy investments gone bad? Ho-hum. Unemployment still high? Bush’s fault. Border agents killed because of botched gun-running scheme? Republicans playing gotcha politics. Terrorist attacks on anniversary of 9/11? Anti-Muslim film made them  do it! Afghanistan policy in shambles? Where’s that country again?

If the president has been reading and viewing the news, he’s probably been under the impression his ideas are winning and he’s made some stumbles, faced some “bumps in the road,” but nothing more. He hasn’t had to defend his positions or analyze his failures.

So here’s a question for the next debate moderator to ask: What magazines and newspapers do you read, what news do you listen to, Mr. President? If the answer is the New York Times, Vanity Fair, the New Yorker, NPR, the Washington Post or any other so-called mainstream news outlet, you know why the president is so uninformed.

—-

Libby Sternberg is a novelist

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Hee hee hee.

garnkikaloid on October 4, 2012 at 8:49 AM

Maybe someone should ask Obama what papers and magazines HE reads

Golf Digest and SI

Laura in Maryland on October 4, 2012 at 9:13 AM

Obama has historically avoided direct contact whether it was interacting with fellow facility at Harvard or his peers on the world leader stage.

He avoids close interaction with his peers so he can hide the fact that he is inferior intellectually to most of his peers.

And it shows… He was not in control of the situation last night and was exposed as being clearly out classed by Romney.

RockyJ. on October 4, 2012 at 9:20 AM

Maybe if Barky had a few real press conferences with a real media he would have some debate experience. Every time GWB went in front of the press, it was like a debate.

Brat on October 4, 2012 at 9:28 AM

leading me to wonder what the heck the president was scribbling all those times he kept looking down and taking notes as if earnestly looking busy would demonstrate his command of the subjects.

He was writing down the names of folks he was going to throw under the bus for his “poor preparation”.

GWB on October 4, 2012 at 9:50 AM

Top notch analysis, Libby. I would only add that, to those shills on the Left who complain about Lehrer (a man who I argued should do all the debates), it was the Windbag-in-Chief who benefited from Lehrer’s lack of control, to the tune of 12% more time than Gov Romney.

Tough to argue with a clock…

JohnGalt23 on October 4, 2012 at 10:32 AM

Maybe he doesn’t know how to read. Maybe he’s just “eye candy” a naked emperor who is happy to let others deal with issues so he can go off and campaign. Afterall he kavetched about having to do his homework for the debate. I can’t wait until his team turns on him ala Palin and they make a movie about him. Who will play Obama in the movie that shows what an incompetent baffoon he is?

magicbeans on October 4, 2012 at 10:37 AM

Obama is not a hands on president. Remember the time at the Health care summit Paul Ryan started talking to him about math and facts and numbers? Obama doesn’t handle the numbers or the facts so he can’t remember them. He chirps out cliches. And nods his head.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=zPxMZ1WdINs

Fleuries on October 4, 2012 at 10:46 AM

That leads me back to my earlier point: one of the reasons the president wasn’t prepared was because he’s not really faced an adversarial press.

the press has “kid-gloved” him…and on the few occasions when they didn’t, he refused to speak to them. his arrogance will hopefully get the best of him.

teejk on October 4, 2012 at 11:15 AM

Karma.

Allahs vulva on October 4, 2012 at 12:10 PM

if anything, the free-roaming sparring of the candidates versus a micromanaged back-and-forth was refreshing.

I agree. Said much the same thing to Mrs. Crazy Legs this morning. It was nice to hear both candidates get in more than just 2 minute soundbites. It also showed just how out-of-depth Obama was – even with 4 extra minutes he still couldn’t get anything out aside from um’s and ah’s.

crazy_legs on October 4, 2012 at 12:47 PM

What magazines and newspapers do you read, what news do you listen to, Mr. President?

PlayGirl? But only for the articles.

mrsmwp on October 4, 2012 at 1:28 PM

What does Barry read?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cAWp7dgk3V0

Stu Gotts on October 4, 2012 at 2:54 PM

Libby Sternberg is a novelist

I really enjoy this byline.

alwaysfiredup on October 4, 2012 at 10:17 PM