Each time the Obama Administration puts its foot down to claim some credit, it collectively puts that same foot in its mouth, thereby damaging its credibility. Recent incidents could have profound repercussions for the Administration and for America.
President Obama has to wonder sometimes: with friends like these, who needs enemies?
Further still, he probably wonders: with a reputation for eloquence, how come so many verbal miscues have soiled the best and worst of times for this White House?
Everyone is quite aware of the human verbal gaffe also known as Vice President Joe Biden. From the vice president’s vulgar faux pas over the big “blanking” deal that was Obamacare to Attorney General Eric Holder’s early 2009 statement over America’s unwillingness (and perhaps the president’s, as well) to tackle race relations in the era of the first Black president, the president can’t seem to catch a break when it comes to public statements that haunt later on.
This unfortunate trend doesn’t mind the times. It occurs regularly, regardless of whether the political tide for the president is at a high (in one incident, by his Washington-tenured vice president) or during a time when another damaging distraction comes about when the tide – and mood – of the nation turns against him (as is the case with the attorney general and the Fast and Furious controversy)
Granted, the president has been down this path before and, at least as a candidate, he was able to overcome it. Mr. Obama dealt with the fallout of the Jeremiah Wright media situation of 2008, finding himself maintaining control and positive momentum afterwards, especially since the damning words were actually not his own. Of course, that wasn’t the case later on in the campaign when speaking to potential voters or even after becoming president (as was the case during the “summer of town-hall health care protests” in 2009 and the Beer Summit and the infamous CBC speech.
Despite generally overcoming those obstacles then, the stakes are higher now and the verbal missteps coming from the Obama Administration over the past few days may have profound impact on the nation, both domestically and geopolitically.
On the election front, the more that Vice President reminds America publicly that the “doldrums” that the Obama Administration has presided over since 2009 (one year with a supermajority in Congress no less, only to lose that advantage soon after), the more that voters may feel a change at the top is necessary to turn it around. The sense of political desperation coming from the vice president with such remarks is obviously not the message the president wants to convey. The continued pressing from the vice president to try to round up the troops, all while keeping the doors open for his own presidential bid in 2016 signals a strange mix of panic and distraction at an inappropriate time.
Everyone within the administration should be intently focused on putting forward a professional, classy image of governmental success and political decorum –things that they have claimed since 2008 that the Party of Bush was not, thus leading the United States into the domestic and geopolitical mess we find ourselves in.
If the sounds of political distress coming from the vice president were not enough to blur the image of “No Drama Obama” from the last election, the recent unguarded statement from President Obama’s secretary of state concerning the death of deposed Libyan dictator Muammar Quaddafi just may.
Secretary of State Clinton’s abrasive joke concerning the United States’ role in the fall of Quaddafi, made with cowboy-like bravado, was eerily similar to the type of brashness that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were mercilessly crucified for by both media and left-wing grassroots alike. Even as President Obama continues to compile an impressive foreign affairs record, he will now deal with the gift-wrapped, propaganda-type sound bite from Mrs. Clinton that can (and likely will) become high-level fodder for some sect of Muslim radicals that see the “Great Satan” as being too much involved in the affairs of the Arab world. While President Obama tries to project “peace through multilateralism and strength”, the latest comments make the drone-heavy, 4-war fronts Administration look more like his White House predecessor’s stereotype than his own “Hope and Change” image.
For a man that many thought might rival the Great Communicator once in office, President Obama again confronts a stinging pattern of verbal miscalculations, missteps, and misappropriated sentiments. Now, those words could cost him – and America– dearly. In all likelihood, at this point, President Obama might prefer the sounds of silence until things turn around – such as figures that matter most to voters and his campaign committee.
Lenny McAllister is a political commentator found Saturdays with host TJ Holmes and fellow pundit Maria Cardona on “CNN Saturday Morning” at 10:30 AM Eastern (9:30 Central / 7:30 AM Pacific.)