Obamateurism of the Day

This one is probably more specific to the White House press relations staff, but it’s amateurish enough to qualify for a slot in the series. Time’s Karen Tumulty expected to do some reporting while following Barack Obama to Arcadia University on his “Shut Up, He Explained” talking tour to tell people that the time for talk is over. Little did Tumulty realize that the time for reporting anything other than White House talking points — or perhaps talking-is-over points — was also over:

When I go to political events, I generally like to talk to people who attend them. You learn a lot that way.

Not today. I arrived at the President’s health care speech at Arcadia University in Glenside, Pa., about 45 minutes early, hoping I might chat with some of the Pennsylvanians who were here. No such luck. The press was stuck behind two sets of barriers. I tried asking several times (nicely, I promise) to wander a bit and talk to people, but was told I would have to wait until after the event. (Both the crowd and I had been through security screening.)


So after the event, I attempted to talk to people as they left. That effort, too, was shut down by the security people.

What was the White House afraid that Tumulty would learn? Presumably, the people who attended the event showed up of the own volition because they agree with Obama on the health-care takeover. Unless Obama’s folks started rounding up people at gunpoint and told them to look cheerful while Obama told them to shut the heck up, Tumulty would have been able to report on the enthusiasm of the attendees for Time Magazine.

Instead, she got to report on how the White House attempted to muzzle the press. Great job!

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!