Social media is still a relatively new platform, and almost everyone in political office has had to catch up to it rather than have had it integrated into one’s development, as millenials have (for better or worse). That leads to some clumsy moments for politicos and their staffers, who probably don’t comprehend that their presumably brilliant hashtag strategies just look contrived and nonsensical. Washington Post reporter Juliet Eilperin chronicles one particularly ridiculous effort to make Barack Obama look, er, rebellious or something, but ends up making Obama a laughingstock:
Bears, beer and horse heads: What exactly is going on with the leader of the free world?
On a single day this week in Denver, President Obama scarfed down pizza and drinks with strangers, shot pool with Colorado’s governor and shook hands with a guy on the street wearing a horse mask. His top staffers are promoting these stops on Twitter with the hashtag #TheBearIsLoose — a term one of Obama’s aides coined in 2008 when the candidate would defy his schedule. …
But to some, breaking free can also look like running away.
Obama’s trip to Colorado and Texas this week took place against the backdrop of a burgeoning crisis on the Mexican border, where tens of thousands of children have been apprehended seeking entry into the United States. In Dallas, Obama dismissed the idea of heading farther south for a border visit as a “photo op” — not long after those photo ops showing him shooting pool and sipping beer in Denver.
House Speaker John A. Boehner (R-Ohio) — who is taking steps to sue Obama for doing too much by executive authority — captured the Republican view of Obama’s travels Thursday when he shouted at reporters: “He’s been president for 51 / 2 years. When’s he going to take responsibility for something?”
Democratic Rep. Henry Cuellar (Tex.) wasn’t much kinder. “If he had time, with all due respect, to have a beer and play pool like he did in Colorado last night, then I think after the fundraisers he should make time to go down there” to the border, Cuellar said Wednesday on CNN.
What looks like defiance and grass-roots connections to the White House looks an awful lot like work avoidance to the rest of the country. No one doubts that the President needs to blow off steam from time to time, but Obama does that pretty constantly on the golf courses and on his vacations. His next vacation to Martha’s Vineyard comes in less than a month, and he’ll get 15 days off from the grind while Congress goes back home to meet with constituents. That will give the President plenty of time to shoot pool and greet people dressed as horses, as long as those people can afford the same One Percenter vacations Obama takes.
In the meantime, maybe Obama would like to do his job. With a crisis on the border, Obama practically had to be dragged to Texas and still didn’t go to the border to see the problem for himself — although he made it as far as Austin for a fundraiser. He sniffed at photo ops, but made sure he got a picture with a young woman who sent him a letter and had her introduce him at that rally afterward. This looks a lot more like college-student goldbricking than rebellion, and Obama a lot more like an ostrich than a bear.
Someone might also want to mention that the bear is more associated with a very different country, one whose leader actually does seem to be “on the loose” these days, and mostly at Obama’s expense. Does Obama’s team really want to keep reminding people of that fact?
Update: Not even Wendy Davis is buying #TheBearIsLoose spin:
Pressure on President Barack Obama to visit the Texas border is now coming from the state’s most prominent Democrat, Wendy Davis, who on Thursday echoed Republicans urging the president to see firsthand the crisis of thousands of young migrants entering the U.S.
Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor, stopped short of criticizing Obama but expressed hope he would make time for a border visit.
“It’s one thing to hear the number. It’s another thing to see for yourself the people — thousands — who are coming across,” she said.
Maybe the White House can try a more appropriate cultural reference:
Update: The pool report from the White House press corps
yesterday Wednesday a month ago and obtained by Hot Air, written in this case by Yahoo’s Olivier Knox, included this shot at the White House hashtag spin. Apparently I’m not alone in wondering who thought the bear reference was a bright idea:
In the meantime, your pooler apologizes for propagating that whole “bear is loose” thing, which always makes him think “yes, and he gobbled up Crimea.”
Update: I misread the date on the pool report. I assumed that this was a reaction to yesterday’s “bear is loose”-ism, but it was from a month ago (June 10). You’d think the White House would have wised up after that, but no …