How Obama's California Dream Became a Nightmare | NBC New York

How Obama's California Dream Became a Nightmare

A bad western trip

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    Obama tried to come of cool and collected out in the California sun, but a gaffe here and an unflattering comment there, and this trip turned out to be a tough one for the young president.

    With DC politicians in a panicky meltdown, could President Obama's trip out West have come at a worse time?

    Or been any weirder? 

    The president had barely landed in the Golden State, than he was getting flak over his NCAA tournament bracket. Duke Coach Mike Krzyzewski was none too pleased that Obama had not only picked rival UNC to win it all -- he didn't even have Duke making the Final Four.  Coach K's response: “As much as I respect what he’s doing, really the economy is something he should focus on more than the brackets.’’ Ouch!  A combined sports-political slap-down of the President of the United States

    Well, if he got no love from Krzyzewski, Obama practically got a marriage proposal when he met the governor of California -- a man who has been a superstar movie actor and champion body builder. Arnold Schwarzenegger practically melted into the role of gushing school girl with the president of the United States: 

    “I’ve never seen that,” Schwarzenegger said to a couple reporters as he and his wife, Maria Shriver, tried to make an exit. “Usually people are so guarded. The aides are always so guarded. They’re so afraid that you will blow it or that you will make news that’s unintended and all those things.”

    Schwarzenegger continued to gush about Obama.

    “But I think he’s so smart,” he said. “He’s so clear with his thinking and he’s so well informed and has been dealing with policy in all this and is also very philosophic it’s almost like. I think he’s just like – I think it’s beautiful.”

    Of course, the planned high point of Obama's trip was the first-ever appearance by a sitting president on "The Tonight Show."

    Obama was technically fine. Why wouldn't he be? But, there was nothing that he said -- explaining the A.I.G. mess, for example --  that couldn't have been done in another format and closer to home.  (For that matter, Obama has another prime-time press conference scheduled for next Tuesday, where he's likely to reach more awake people than Leno would.)

    But the main goal for a forum like this is to appear both comfortable and casual -- and make sure not to make an embarrassing gaffe.  Well, fine on the first part. 

    But the second? Not so much. 

    The president compared his historic bad bowling game during the campaign to..."the Special Olympics or something."   

    No surprise, the White House immediately went into damage control, putting out a late evening press release:

    "The president made an off-hand remark making fun of his own bowling that was in no way intended to disparage the Special Olympics," White House deputy press secretary Bill Burton said. "He thinks the Special Olympics is a wonderful program that gives an opportunity for people with disabilities from around the world."

    Of course, the Special Olympics were founded by Eunice Kennedy Shriver -- mother of Maria Shriver, wife of the aforementioned governor of California!  Oops!   


    The president of the United States -- the first to appear on "The Tonight Show" while serving in the White House -- actually said something telling while sitting at Leno's desk. Speaking of the absurdity of paying out bonuses even as the firms were going under, Obama said, "That I think speaks to a broader culture that existed on Wall Street where I think people had this general attitude of entitlement . We must be the best and the brightest..."

    Hmmm...attitude of entitlement? Not just on Wall Street, Mr. President. Not just on Wall Street. 

    He added: "The larger problem is that we've got to get back to an attitude where people know enough is enough and people have a sense of responsibility. And they understand that their actions have an impact on everybody. And we can get back to those values that built America, then I think we're going to be OK."

    Physician, heal thyself. 

    Robert A. George is a New York writer. He blogs at Ragged Thots.