Obama's addiction to speeches: The more he gives, the less people listen
By Andrew Malcolm
Posted 09:02 AM ET
President Obama knows he's in trouble with the American people.
Yes, his job approval has slipped further since Christmas, down to 40%, and is worse than G.W. Bush's at the same point.
But you can tell Obama knows it anyway because he's fallen back on his path of preferred political action. He's giving speeches. Many speeches. Campaign speeches. Roll-up-the-sleeves speeches. Point-his-finger speeches. Call-on-others-to-do-something speeches.
It's what Obama does, throw speeches at things like pop singers throw eggs at neighbors. What he's always done because meeting, cajoling, joshing, building teams with Congress, bringing people together is not what he's good at. Despite the speeches in which he promised to do just that.
Obama believes he's good at speechifying. And he used to be.
Trouble is, more and more Americans are tuning him out. Seriously, how often have you seen his face on TV, said, 'Yeh, right' and clicked straight on by because he's always talking while never really saying anything? "I speak, therefore, I am."
Obama could give the next Gettysburg Address, mentioning himself twice as often as the Civil War, and no one would notice. Because the voluble Democrat has so cheapened the power of presidential addresses -- with so many of them, so many of them with recycled plans, the same old ideas and phrases, even cadences. Despite the ubiquitous assistance of a teleprompter.
Doesn't really matter what Obama's speeches are about anymore -- pre-school, jobs, bridges, college loans, fair shares. Yesterday Obama flew all the way down to Raleigh to talk about a business 'innovation.' Trouble is, he already talked about it last year during his endless State of the Union.
And as he spoke about the economy coming back, J.C. Penney's announced the closure and 33 more stories and sudden unemployment of 2,000.
By the way, stand by, please. Obama's next 7,000-word heave State of the Union comes up in only 12 days. Prime-time too. Goodbye, "NCIS."
When in doubt or not, throw in a speech. Earlier this week, Obama held a rare Cabinet meeting. But there were microphones. So, what did he do? The president gave a mini-speech for the media about what he was going to tell the cabinet sitting right there as high-paid photo props.
Trouble is, it was essentially the same speech he gave in his video weekly remarks days before. Except giving a recycled vow that 2014 was a surefire year of real action to a heap of stuffed bureaucrats just sitting there motionless pretty much contradicted the intended "Let's do it!" message of energy.
ABC News (Even Joe listens less.)
Obama has not said much about "Gates-gate," the book-length, expose evisceration of his leadership and hollow troop support by former Cabinet member Robert Gates, who sat at Obama's elbow at that same White House table.
Gates, who served eight presidents and is the only Defense secretary to work for presidents of both parties, sat in his old cabinet chair in a rural house outside Seattle the last two years to write his new best-seller "Duty." (C-SPAN2 will cover his book talk in Philadelphia Friday 6:30 p.m. Eastern.)
Today is Thursday. So, Obama is scheduled to give another speech. He's summoned university and company presidents, educators and non-profit leaders to the White House to reveal his thoughts on how very important a college education has become in modern America.
And how everybody ought to have a fair shot at success. (Applause.)
And how determined he is to ensure that opportunity despite the differing views of that uncooperative equal branch of government he so often side-steps.
And how determined he is to fight for that opportunity for all Americans, even if he is the only one doing it. Which he isn't, but that sounds good to be the Lone Warrior for fairness.
As a special treat, Michelle Obama will also give a speech on the same subject to the same crowd today. She's back now from her extended Hawaiian vacation and turns a half-century old tomorrow.
Then, of course, comes the week's intended main event Friday noon. That's the president sharing his pre-cooked thoughts on maybe somehow slightly perhaps changing the appearance of the National Security Agency's snooping on Americans.
This speech is critical, so important and so certain to contain explosive decisions that Obama scheduled it right as the Capitol emptied at the start of a three-day federal holiday weekend.
The president has already said he does not believe the NSA violated civil rights. But Obama understands the public needs some kind of big-deal speech and assurances to treat its fears.
Americans tend to be suspicious of things they can't see. Like monsters in the dark. Hungry fish beneath the waves. Radiation in the air.
And honest promises by Barack Obama.