If it’s Thursday, it must be Obama. Or Friday. Or Saturday. Or just about any day.
Barack Obama has gone from being historic to being ubiquitous.
He doesn’t just control the news cycle, he is the news cycle.
Need an auto exec fired? A pirate killed? A dog patted? A Cuba policy addressed? An Easter egg rolled? An economy stimulated? Hey, he also does Seders!
This is not automatic for a president in his first 100 days. George W. Bush was so quiet he was virtually speechless in his first 100 days in office, even though he had to deal with an international crisis (the Chinese government took 24 Americans hostage) and a domestic crisis (race riots in Cincinnati).
Today, we have a president who so fills the airwaves that he really should have his own network with the motto: “All Obama, All the Time.”
Scratch that. He doesn’t need it. Cable news is pretty much that already.
I am not complaining. But it strikes me that President Obama is now speaking to us even when he doesn’t really need to speak to us.
His speech Tuesday was a good example. It was a perfectly good speech. But it was not the “major” address that the White House advertised. Still, it was interesting. Obama likes to use his speeches to address his critics — even though polls show he does not have an overwhelming number of critics — and Tuesday he made a direct reference to one of his former critics.
In January 2008, just before the New Hampshire primary, at a speech at Nashua High School North, Hillary Clinton had made fun of Obama’s use of inspirational rhetoric by quoting Mario Cuomo’s famous line: “You campaign in poetry, but you govern in prose.” After the speech, Clinton said of Obama: “I applaud his incredible ability to make a speech that really leaves people inspired. My point is that when the cameras disappear and you’re there in the Oval Office having to make tough decisions, I believe I am better prepared and ready to lead our country.”
The country disagreed (though Clinton did go on to win the New Hampshire primary and became Obama’s secretary of state). But in his speech Tuesday at Georgetown University, Obama began by saying: “This is going to be prose, and not poetry. I want to talk about what we’ve done, why we’ve done it, and what we have left to do.”
It was supposed to be a meat-and-potatoes speech to get us used to the fact that we are going to be seeing so much of President Obama that we can’t expect soaring rhetoric each time we see him. We can’t expect — as Hillary Clinton again chided him on Feb. 25, 2008, in Rhode Island — that “the skies will open, the light will come down, celestial choirs will be singing and everyone will know we should do the right thing and the world will be perfect.”
Except Obama couldn’t help himself Tuesday. He slipped in a little “celestial” stuff anyway by quoting the parable at the end of the Sermon on the Mount about how you have to build your house upon rock and not sand. “We cannot rebuild this economy on the same pile of sand,” he said. “We must build our house upon a rock. We must lay a new foundation for growth and prosperity — a foundation that will move us from an era of borrow and spend to one where we save and invest.”
Not bad for meat-and-potatoes speech.
Wednesday, he was back again. It was April 15 and there was no need for a speech, but some conservatives were running around making a tempest in a tea bag about paying their taxes, and even though the White House could have sent anybody out to make a speech about the tax code, they sent out their star in chief.
And he delivered. “For too long, we’ve seen taxes used as a wedge to scare people into supporting policies that increased the burden on working people instead of helping them live their dreams,” Obama said. “That has to change.”
Then he got ready to go to Mexico and Trinidad and Tobago where he will make speeches on everything from drug trafficking to trade to global poverty.
So if a tree falls in the forest and Barack Obama is not there to talk about his forestry policy, does it really make a sound?
Not a chance.