Sandy saves Obama from himself
If President Obama had the time for some introspection on the campaign trail, he might take offense at all the media speculation (and, in many cases, wishful thinking gussied up as speculation) that his response to Hurricane Sandy will give him the edge on Election Day.
In effect, people are saying: “Obama is doing the minimum requirements of his job; what a game-changer!”
Now, one could quibble about whether he's really doing what a president should. He's handing out a bunch of checks, which is warranted, but he has staff to do that. Moreover, presidential photo ops at disaster sites aren't all that helpful. In his remarks Wednesday, the president thanked some local politicians and told people to visit the FEMA website if they have electricity. The imperative for him to be the one delivering that message is no doubt obvious to all.
Still, the conventional wisdom is probably right that acting presidential during a crisis helps Obama politically. And it's probably true that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's praise of Obama is helping at the margins, too. Though it's probably helping most in New Jersey, where Obama would win anyway — and with the D.C. press corps, which loves both stories of bipartisanship and stories that help Obama.
But if this tragic natural disaster is boosting the president in any meaningful way, it's not because of any of that. It's because the storm saved Obama from himself.
During the weeks leading up to the storm, the president, vice president and the Obama campaign were being, to use a family-friendly term, jerks.
The president in particular was acting like he was auditioning for Keith Olbermann's old time slot at MSNBC.
In the first presidential debate, Mitt Romney said he didn't think it made sense to borrow millions from China to subsidize public television, including the immensely profitable outfit that owns Big Bird.
Obama's response was to mock Romney for his war on Big Bird, insinuating in ads and condescending rants (often punctuated by Obama laughing at his own jokes) that Romney thinks Big Bird is the source of all of our problems. Anyone who watched the debate knew that Obama was being both petty and dishonest.
At the end of an interview with Rolling Stone, an editor there told Obama that his 6-year-old daughter had a message for the president: “Tell him: You can do it.” Instead of replying with an aw-shucks thank you, Obama immediately snapped back with a remark about how little kids can tell Romney's a “bull(expletive).”
I know what you're thinking: Classy. Presidential. High-minded.
The irony is that the president was projecting a label better applied to himself and voters were catching on to it in ways they hadn't before, even when he promised to make the oceans heel to his command. I still expect the president to fail in his bid to be re-elected. But if he squeaks by, it just might be because he was saved from himself — by the very oceans he failed to conquer.
Jonah Goldberg, editor at large of National Review Online, is the author of “The Tyranny of Clichés.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Rossi: Looking at the next great Steeler
- Steelers swap draft pick for Eagles cornerback
- After early criticism, Haley has Steelers offense poised to be even better
- McCullers’, McLendon’s prowess in clogging trenches crucial to Steelers defense
- Shell shovels millions into proposed Beaver County plant site
- EPA diktats: Pushing back
- Penguins not alone in top-heavy approach to salary cap
- Starting 9: Examining Pirates’ deadline decisions
- Pirates notebook: New acquisition Happ more than happy to fill spot in rotation
- Steelers notebook: Injuries finally become issue at training camp
- McCandless woman 1st in region with implant aimed at halting seizures