In the history of mankind, many republics have risen, have flourished for a less or greater time, and then have fallen because their citizens lost the power of governing themselves and thereby of governing their state. TR


It’s Not About “Optics”

President Obama was ready with excuses for Chuck Todd when asked on Meet the Press about his decision to immediately head for the golf course after making a statement last month about James Foley, who was murdered by ISIS. By the time Obama was done, you could almost be convinced he had DONE THE RIGHT THING.

The president claims a public relations mistake. But this is really something more profound, and unfortunately, typically disillusioning.

Not that I had illusions.

From the show, which was broadcast Sunday:

CHUCK TODD: I’ve got to ask, so during that vacation, you made the statement on Foley, you went and golfed. Do you want that back?

PRESIDENT OBAMA: It is always a challenge when you’re supposed to be on vacation because you’re followed everywhere. And part of what I’d love is a vacation from the press . . .

Because the possibility of a jarring contrast given the world’s news, there’s always going to be some tough news somewhere, it’s going to be there. But there’s no doubt that after having talked to the families, where it was hard for me to hold back tears listening to the pain that they were going through after the statement that I made, that I should’ve anticipated the optics.

That’s part of the job. And I think everybody who knows me, including, I suspect, the press, understands that you take this stuff in and it’s serious business. And you care about it deeply. But part of this job is also the theater of it. Part of it is how are you–

TODD: You hate that you–

OBAMA: Well, it’s not something that always comes naturally to me. But it matters. And I’m mindful of that. So the important thing is in addition to that, is am I getting the policies right? Am I protecting the American people? Am I doing what’s necessary?

What self-serving goop.

This man, who gave a speech at the Berlin Wall before being elected, for God’s sake, claims not to understand political theater. What he is telling us is, I’m so much better than optics and phoniness. But I realize I have to descend into phoniness sometimes, and it’s my bad for not lowering myself to the task.

Let’s review what happened here. From the pool report for that day:

The president walked quietly into the cafeteria of the school, tieless but wearing a blue jacket. Eric Schultz accompanied him. Obama stepped to a podium and delivered his remarks, then turned quietly and walked out of the room. The room was silent as he did.

Afterward, the motorcade drove to the Vineyard Golf Club.

He’s was on the golf course within minutes of a solemn statement. In fact, he made the statement as close as possible to the club, so there would be no delay.

This wasn’t about optics. This was a failure of leadership. You don’t console the country with a tribute to a murdered American and then go golfing. I don’t remember Bush making excuses about being uncomfortable with “optics” after he did this.

Obama failed to own up to his mistake. The president talks about having tears in his eyes while on the phone with Foley’s family, to prove that he in fact does care. What he doesn’t understand is that this is not about him. It’s about the country.

None of his presidency should be about him, but all of it is.

Obama’s problem is not that he is better than a mere politician. His problem is that he doesn’t appreciate and understand the office he holds.

If you are a leader, you lead. If you care about the job of President of the United States, it wouldn’t occur to you to make an important statement to a shocked and saddened nation, and then hit the links.

You might even forgo golf for a whole day, who knows?

40 thoughts on “It’s Not About “Optics””

  1. He has never been a leader. His job experience is organizing other people. We have a complete failure of leadership. You are exactly right, he has no understanding of the job he campaigned for and won.

    1. I seriously doubt he even “organized” anything in that previous foray. Rabble rousing and working the neighborhoods promising more handouts and freebies is not organizing.

  2. The Me issue is getting old. This man works for us. As well as American citizens he was addressing, their were people all over the world that listening to that comment he made.
    If he does not like being in the spot light, he should have become a drain cleaner, book keeper, etc.

    1. Like in that movie–Woody Allen–WHEN IN ROME (pretty bad, by the way) where a normal citizen suddenly “becomes” famous–no reason–he is horrified but when it transfers to someone else one day, he misses it.

  3. I was so disappointed in Todd’s interview. I know I was hoping for something that wasn’t going to happened but I really wanted him to step up and be a Russert. Instead he showed he’s still just another MSM puppet.

    Ed Henry had a good point on twitter yesterday:

    Ed Henry ✔ @edhenryTV
    Didn’t “theater of politics” — and then-Sen. Obama being “good at it” — initially propel him at 2004 Dem National Convention?
    10:25 AM – 7 Sep 2014
    104 Retweets 58 favorites Reply Retweet

  4. Kind of surprised he didn’t say

    “I really don’t like golf. I am not even very good at it. I only play because it seems to be in the tradition of Presidents past. If it were up to me I would spend the weekends with my family. But I am honored to sacrifice my personal time time for the American people. I apologize for allowing my dedication to the activity of Presidents past appear to be an irreverance and ambivalence toward Mr.Foley and his family and our country.”

    Which by the way it surely was.

      1. He’s probably had sons, he just didn’t want to be punished with having to raise them. Is anyone interested in the fact that Hawaii will have a new governor? Just incase anyone wants to erase the last 6 years.

  5. He’s really at an infantile level where an baby has no concept of a world outside of himself.

    There’s a cartoon on NRO which covers this topic also. He’s in the Oval Office supposedly reading the briefing but on the inside what he’s really reading is Golf Digest. Behind him on on the table are photographs–all of himself. Even one of those little I love (heart shown) signs: I love me.

  6. It’s worse than a failure of leadership. He’s got “a hole in his soul” (as Michelle once put it in her slander of Americans generally).

  7. Keith, wasn’t it Obama’s official photographer who took the photo?

    The part that really galls me is, describing how challenging it is to have people constantly follow him on vacation. He loves being photographed, he is the pimp and most media, are his prostitutes.

    Someone needs to tell him, he is The President! Not an Emperor. Leaders of countries don’t go on vacation and be surprised that they can’t be left alone. Only us commoners can do that, when and if, we can afford a vacation.

    When is he not on vacation? The man is a completely vapid, immoral, self-centered, arrogant prick, who is utterly lacking any character.

  8. There is a perfectly logical explanation for his rush to play golf after his statement. Remember the timeline…
    Sun 8/17 – Mysterious, still unexplained return to DC.
    Mon 8/18 – Meetings, no golf.
    Tues 8/19 – Meetings, no golf.
    Wed 8/20 – Return to MV, make statement, chomping at the bit to get in some golf after a long absence. Darn those press people following him around.

    He sticks to an agenda. I remember another incident vaguely where he stuck to his scripted remarks (can’t remember details, seems like it was to bash Republicans), even though some other sad world event had just hit the wires. He doesn’t register emotion like other humans.

  9. Keith:
    Thanks for the additional info that he picked a venue close to the first tee, so as not to lose time. (He looks to have been later to his short talk than the amount of time it took him to tee off).

    Not into optics? That carefully set-up camera angle to ensure that every close-up framed him with flags… Fake doctors at the White House in smocks for his Rose Garden PPACA talk… Human props trucked in for nearly every speech… That smoking shotgun… That football throw at Soldier Field (where no video confirms the ball was even thrown)… That Presidential Podium that has to be flown around the world to give him “gravitas”… This man could change his name to Barack O-opticsenhanced.
    BTW: Were his eyebrows made up for his chat with Todd? (Looked like it on my TV)

  10. We have seen the “tears” coming out of the wrong part of his eye…whatever. That is the only clip I saw–even MoJoe’s regs were sorta yawny about the interview–tho Joe was double dog on waiting, thinking, being deliberate (did he suffer a head injury–he makes no sense if he ever did) . Speaking of optics–I could not take my eyes off that THING (mole, wen) next to the president’s nose–isn’t it time to get it sawed off?

  11. Our analysis of Chuck Todd’s first show…
    MEET THE PRESS courtesy of
    Chuck Todd had his highly hyped first show “in the chair” today. It went pretty well. The exclusive interview with Pres. Obama avoided the obvious adoration and many of the softballs that are usually served up NBC’s stable of unethical “journalists” who serve their chosen chief first and their viewers a far distant second.
    The greatest shock came when panelist Andrea Mitchell briefly behaved like a real journalist when she admitted that…”the Saudis and others in this region don’t trust this President”. Of course Political Prophet Predictions has been making that point for years so she is a little late to the party. True to form, she attributed the lack of trust to the single failure of Obama to “arm the Syrian opposition” rather than to Obama’s five year marathon of lying to everyone about everything and she indicated, incorrectly as we have noted repeatedly, that the Saudis are the only folks who routinely throw pianos further than they “trust Obama”.
    The real show was not Obama and certainly not Mitchell but rather Todd himself who was about as relaxed as could be expected under the circumstances. After all, Meet the Press was a job killer for Todd’s immediate predecessor, David Gregory who was subjected to one of the longest running televised executions in history.
    Overall, he equipped himself pretty well and the Obama “get” was a feather in his hat. Fox News’ Chris Wallace was in second place with a really good interview with Gov. Mitt Romney who was much more effective as a 2014 observer than he was as a 2012 candidate.
    We wish Todd well for a number of reasons not the least of which is that CNN and all three network news departments need to learn that unethical journalism is fast fading from the marketplace because the consumers of news are becoming more discerning. If Todd can elevate his game and join Jake Tapper, Sharyl Atkinson, Keith Koffler and most of the journalists at Fox News as ethical journalists who practice an honorable and absolutely essential craft, America will be the better for it.
    Todd has the potential for the integrity and true professionalism that his new post demands for more than just a short run. Clearly it will not take NBC six years to pull the plug this time and it is obvious that eyeballs will go elsewhere if Todd tries to serve his political friends rather than his viewers.
    While is known more for putting feet to the fire than for giving heart-warming help to journalists, Todd’s launch on Meet the Press merits an initial helping hand. Therefore, we Ask the following questions for Todd to answer on air…
    1) Was every moment of your interview with Obama aired today?
    2) Specifically, were any “retakes” allowed or was anything edited?
    3) Were you told that any question or subject was “off limits”?
    4) Were you asked to include a particular subject in the interview?
    5) Was anyone with MTP asked to provide interview information in advance?
    We must note that a CNN anchor who moderated one of the 2012 debates appeared to have engaged in secret communications with Obama or his campaign before the debate began and her credibility suffered greatly. Contrary to the philosophy of some network executives, the news is not show business. Interviewers, those being interviewed and the viewing audience should all get the information coming from the interview at the same time. Entertainment shows use scripts and often do retakes to improve their presentations but that is not appropriate for ethical journalism. So Chuck, please respond to and broadcast your answers on or before next Sunday.
    Thank you and good luck.

  12. I think he truly doesn’t care, particularly. the murdered white journalists (one with dual Israeli citizenship) aren’t of interest to him because he can’t relate to them.

    I think the most revealing gaffe Obama ever made was mispronouncing “corpsman” three times in a single speech. it was obvious that our president didn’t know enough about the military to have ever seen that word before. frightening.

    I want to say “How did we reelect this guy?” but I already know: a depressing combination of low-information voters who went to the polls and 2 million Romney-hating conservative purists who didn’t.

  13. Don’t you just love it when he suggests he needs a vacation from the press? He’s had 6 years of vacation from the press! The arrogance of it all is stunning.

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