Far be it from me to criticize someone who likes the spotlight. After all, I love it. Really. All that attention. Everyone focused on me. A full-length mirror isn’t my favorite possession by accident. But, even I know that too much of anything is, well, too much. Over exposure can cheapen to the point of demeaning both the message and the messenger. When you add a hefty dose of disdain to the tone of the overkill, you’ve cooked up a recipe for voter turnoff.
And that’s going on right now with our current President. Mr. Obama is on TV so often he’s starting to look like a rerun of Leave It To Beaver without the interesting parts. And his Press Secretary, Robert Gibbs, is so mocking in his tone and disrespectful of folks he disagrees with that he’s painful to watch. In fact, not watching him is a lot better.
How did this happen? In our age of technology, it’s not surprising that Obama has been on TV more than any other President. But, in just his first 8 months in office, he did three times more TV interviews than his two predecessors combined in the same period. Then there was September’s Saturation Sunday when he did five major TV news shows. And, most days, he’s on CNBC blabbing about everything from soup to nuts.
Obama’s also been on a late-night talk show, the Food Network, ESPN and Comedy Central, all since assuming the Presidency. And, he was on Oprah’s White House Christmas Special, which, because he’s on so much, wasn’t all that special.
Why the non-stop barrage? Obama apparently believes that constant communication as President will carry the day like it did for Candidate Obama. Placating platitudes in place of positive performance. But what really happens is something way different. He’s there so much that he’s not really there at all. The omnipresent ends up blending invisibly into the background. Tuned out. Turned off. Ignored. And no one is placated in that process.
Then there’s that Gibbs guy. The Press Secretary is a senior White House official who speaks for the President. But, Gibbs doesn’t speak so much as scoff. Whenever he’s asked a question he doesn’t want to answer, he belittles, using mean-spiritedness as a substitute for substance. And when the press brings up a person he feels threatened by, he makes fun of him or her.
Take the Sarah Palin incident just last week. Gibbs disparaged her immediately after Obama called for an end to petty politics. Or his attack on Howard Dean in December over the Senate’s version of the healthcare bill. Or slamming Fox for not covering the President enough (he had to be kidding about that one). Or taking the media in general to task for the way they covered the healthcare debate. Or his harangue of the Obama birthers last year. And so on. When did mud wrestling replace professionalism?
Of course, it’s fine to disagree. But, when people resort to ridicule, it’s usually because they don’t have anything worthwhile to say. So, Gibbs should dump the derision. It’s more transparent than Obama’s administration. And one more thing. In being disrespectful of others, Gibbs also disrespects the office, and the man, he represents. Is that really the message the President wants us to get?
See you in the mirror.