SALT LAKE CITY, August 16, 2011—A few days ago, the president told Wolf Blitzer that Rick Perry would learn soon enough what to say and what not to say on the campaign trail.
Like many professors, Obama is long on theory and short on practical application.
Prompted by Perry’s claim that the men and women in the military would “really like to see a person who’s worn the uniform in that office,” Blitzer naturally asked the president if he thought the comment was disrespectful.
An appropriate answer would have been, “No.” The best answer would have been, “No.”
He even could have turned the tables on Perry and shown some magnanimity with a response like, “I admire Governor Perry’s service to our country, and think he probably made a fine Air Force pilot. I’ll leave it up to American voters to decide whom they want as their Commander-in-Chief.”
But President Obama is incapable of giving a simple answer. Or a direct answer. To be fair, Obama kept it relatively short, especially when compared to his seven-minute plus answers at most press conferences. But his response wasn’t to the point, at least not a point that the President of the United States ought to have been making.
Instead, he tried to be cute, witty, and above it all. “This isn’t like running for governor or running for senate or running for Congress.
You’ve gotta be a little more careful about what you say. But I’ll cut him some slack.”
It came off as smarmy and arrogant. It also showed how thin-skinned this president is. He often engages when he shouldn’t, betraying his self-consciousness and need to prove everybody else wrong.
Obama is the teacher you never wanted to have: incapable of admitting he doesn’t understand something or letting a student get credit for having a good idea; always having to have the last word, and demeaning anybody who challenges him; lecturing too much and listening too little, with scant need of student input or discussion.
Indeed, he is incapable of not blathering on about his opinion on every single topic raised by man.
Many Americans might find it refreshing to see as occupant of the Oval Office someone who doesn’t claim to know it all.
As a teacher myself, I have learned that an admission of ignorance every now and again bolsters one’s credibility.
Why does Obama feel impelled to comment whenever provoked, no matter how slightly?
Perhaps it is his phenomenal success at winning elections. Getting so good so fast has made him believe that he has the Midas touch. Now, he is finding out that what appeared to be gold is badly tarnished.
A better explanation would be his belief that he has all power to affect change for the better. Setting aside the question of whether his policies would bring the kind of success that Americans demand, his ideology holds that government does and should have the authority to weigh in on every issue facing every citizen. He has faith that government, its operators, bureaucrats, and elected officials should render judgment in every facet of our lives.
Armed (or weighed down) by such a world view, it is no wonder that Obama comments extensively on every question posed to him.
Calvin Coolidge famously said, “Perhaps one of the most important accomplishments of my administration has been minding my own business.”
Obama thinks everything is his business. There is nothing trivial for a liberal.
Except this was very trivial. Sure, Perry is a presidential candidate, but what he said wasn’t particularly controversial. Obama should have dodged instead of taking the hit.
Finally, his backhanded advice that Perry will learn soon enough how to campaign was a transparent dig at the Texas governor.
It is Obama who needs to learn a thing or two about campaigning this time around. He’s going to have a lot more competition, a lot more unfriendly press, and a lot more to answer for.
He ought to take his own advice: “Be a little more careful about what you say.” I would add: Sometimes it’s best not to say anything at all.
Learn more about the author at Rich-Stowell.com.
Rich is a teacher and a soldier. He is the author of Nine Weeks: A Teacher’s Education in Army Basic Training; Tunnel Club; and Not Another Boring Textbook: A High School Students’ Guide to their Inner Conservative, which you can follow on Facebook.
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