DATELINEImageville, September 9 –  Where in the world is Barack Obama’s gift of gab when he really needs it? As far as public speakers go, one fan puts him in the first trinity among U.S. Presidents in the modern era. The other two are JFK and FDR. That’s pretty rarefied air. Even those who aren’t nearly as fawning give him high marks for his oratory, at least some of the time.

Personally, I never thought much of the President’s grandstanding blah, blah, blah. It’s way too affected. The guy is a Harvard grad yet he uses poor grammar and speaks in the singsong, snake-oil cadence of a circuit-riding preacher. It grates. Still, he does have a way of getting his message across that lights a fire under his supporters.

But, he’s considerably worse when he gets one-on-one with an interviewer, even when he’s in the friendly confines of NBC’s Meet The Press. It’s just not scripted enough. His teleprompter is nowhere in sight. He has to be extemporaneous. Usually, he ad-libs himself into saying regrettably stupid things.

Last Sunday was no exception. Obama spoke to the Meet The Press moderator on a variety of topics. One of them was his golf outing that began within minutes after he condemned the James Foley beheading. Critics of all political stripes ripped him for being so callous at such a tragic time. Couldn’t he have just stayed indoors and played a rousing game of twister instead?

No need, according to Obama, because the problem with the golf outing was not his insensitivity, which, by the way, he never denied. The problem was “unanticipated optics.” He forgot to consider how bad his behavior would look to everyone on the planet except, of course, to ISIS. That his choice to play golf was heartless was not the point. The point was, it was just bad press.

The President had some bad words for the press, too. According to him, those people had to know how truly devastated he was over Foley’s death, but they chose to play up the golf angle anyway. It’s reassuring to know that, while his rhetoric may slip from time to time, his blame game remains sharp.

Obama did concede that he is not a good player in the “theater” of the Presidency created by the media. Right. He’s much better in the theater of the absurd.