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Saturday, October 6, 2012

Thomas Friedman, "Can I Phone a Friend?": Actually, the Obama Presidency Has Never Been About Communication

So today it is Thomas Friedman's turn to ponder Obama's debate debacle. In his latest New York Times op-ed entitled "Can I Phone a Friend?" (, Friedman writes:

"[Romney's] presentation crackled with a freshness and a sense of possibility that was completely missing in Obama’s monotone discussion of health care, deficits and government programs. And where Obama had a chance to talk about how his own green jobs initiative has actually spurred all kinds of innovations and start-ups, he whiffed. (As some have noted, it is too bad the debate rules didn’t allow him to phone a friend.)"

Yup, Tom, a reference by Obama to Solyndra would have done him a world of good.

Friedman continues:

"Obama needs to stress that he, from his side, aspires to restore bipartisanship and has a plan to overcome paralysis and pull the country together in a second term."

Apparently Tom has forgotten what Senator Olympia Snowe, one of three Republicans in the US Congress who voted for Obama's economic stimulus plan in 2009, had to say about the president. Snowe told Jonathan Karl that she has not had a face-to-face meeting with Obama in two years, and asked if she had to grade Obama on his willingness to work with Republicans, she replied that he would be "close to failing on that point" (see:

Friedman concludes:

"This new Romney sounded like a man applying to be the C.E.O. of a country that needs a turnaround. Obama sounded like a man who forgot — or resented — that he needed to reapply for his job at all."

But why should Obama feel the need to reapply for the job? You will recall how Obama declared (

"I would put our legislative and foreign policy accomplishments in our first two years against any president with the possible exceptions of Johnson, FDR and Lincoln."

What is Obama still smoking? Or does this obtuseness owe to the fact that he has surrounded himself with a gaggle of fawning advisers who dare not challenge the One?

I see the problem otherwise: Obama, with no knowledge of economics or foreign affairs, was never qualified for the job, but this was kept a secret. Concerning the 2008 campaign, former White House Communications Director Anita Dunn explained (

"One of the reasons we did so many of the David Plouffe [Obama’s chief campaign manager] videos was not just for our supporters, but also because it was a way for us to get our message out without having to actually talk to reporters. We just put that out there and made them write what Plouffe had said as opposed to Plouffe doing an interview with a reporter. So it was very much we controlled it as opposed to the press controlled it. . . . very rarely did we communicate through the press anything that we didn’t absolutely control."

And this policy of avoiding communication has continued into Obama's presidency. As observed after the debate by Washington Post columnist Dana Milbank in an opinion piece entitled "Obama pays price for ducking the questions" (

"For the past four years, he has worked assiduously to avoid being questioned, maintaining a regal detachment from the media and other sources of dissent and skeptical inquiry.

Obama has set a modern record for refusal to be quizzed by the media, taking questions from reporters far less often than Ronald Reagan, George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton and even George W. Bush."

Or as I see it, the Obama presidency became an adventure in narcissism of Axelrod's making. In the beginning, everyone could see in Obama what they wanted to see. No longer. On Wednesday, there could be no hiding the warts and wrinkles.


  1. Of course, he was never qualified for the job.
    He's a charlatan. Empty suit. I am angry.

  2. Obama is an effective communicator? See:

  3. I have no doubt that he calculated that the retarded American "liberals," overfed, overprivileged and overprimitive, full of complexes and pretensions would carry him like a precious baby to the White House and take care of him during his tenure there. Then he will move on to billions.