Obama, a news junkie?
Lots of American presidents liked to pretend they didn’t dwell on the news — too busy attacking big problems for such a trifling. But then they would reveal themselves as news junkies (See 1992 presidential campaign and George H.W. Bush’s slogan: Annoy the Media — Re-Elect Bush).
President Barack Obama’s predecessor, George W. Bush, publicly boasted about ignoring most of what the press wrote and said about him. In reality, he had read the major newspapers by 6:45 a.m., while not paying much attention to television news.
Which brings us to Obama. He is making no bones about being a real news hound — even while holding the craven media mavens at arm’s length, as shown by his having avoided holding solo news conferences for seven months until a surprise appearance on Monday.
His news predilection is shown in small ways, like his recent speech in Tampa, Florida.
“I do also have to just mention — I’m going to mention — you know I love you in the media, but I will mention this little aspect of our media. Our friends with the pads and the pencils — last week I went to Ohio and I started saying what I’m saying now, which is, I’m going to fight for your future. And they got all worked up. They got worked up last week. They said, is he trying to change his message; is he trying to get more populist; is this a strategy that he’s pursuing to boost this, that and the other; is this something new?”
And then in Baltimore when he went toe-to-toe with House Republicans:
“So just a tone of civility instead of slash and burn would be helpful. The problem we have sometimes is a media that responds only to slash-and-burn-style politics. You don’t get a lot of credit if I say, ‘You know, I think Paul Ryan is a pretty sincere guy and has a beautiful family.’ Nobody is going to run that in the newspapers.”
At a dinner last week raising money for the Democratic National Committee:
“You know, the same folks who are now writing about what next, and what’s happened to the Obama — these are the same folks who were writing about how he doesn’t stand a chance; how after New Hampshire, that was it. After Pennsylvania, that was it. Right? We went through this. And they were saying your faith was misplaced and you set your sights too high, and your hope is naïve, and Washington won’t change. And now all of them are feeling like, see, we told you, Washington doesn’t change. And they’re feeling kind of self-satisfied about the fact that we haven’t yet gotten health care done.”
Talking heads on cable were not left out in a DNC reception speech in which he talked up healthcare:
“I love how the pundits on these cable shows, they all announce, ‘Oh, boy, this was really tough politically for the president.’ Well, I’ve got my own pollsters, I know — I knew this was hard. I knew seven presidents had failed. I knew seven Congresses hadn’t gotten it done. You don’t think I got warnings, ‘Don’t try to take this on’? I got those back in December of last year.”
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Photo credit: Reuters/Kevin Lamarque (Obama reads newspaper as he walks toward Oval Office, Obama gives impromptu news conference)