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Do as I say, not as I do

Newt Gingrich, who for all intents and purposes is running for US president, went on Fox News on Thursday in order to slam Obama for publicly stating his NCAA basketball bracket during a time of crisis (by which I assume Gingrich is referring to the earthquake and tsunami in Japan). But it is the strangest slam I’ve heard in a long time:

You know, the president has this fixation with the Final Four. Spent time on ESPN giving us his version of what really mattered to him, which is the Final Four.

I like basketball. I think the president knows more about it than I do.

He may well be right about Kansas, although I must say I have a personal affection for Duke, where my best friend from high school went to school and where they have a great coach, and I kind of have a soft spot in my heart for Duke winning. But Kansas is a great school, so maybe the president is right.

But what’s strange is — with all of these crises — how can you focus that kind of time and attention as president of the United States? Not as a private citizen, not as a spectator, not as a hobby.

On second thought, maybe the crisis Gingrich is referring to is the fact that he hasn’t been elected to any office in a while.



  1. Jonah wrote:

    I actually agree with the newt. Hopefully the only time I will. BHO is a leader in troubled times and I think there are people who want to see their leaders to show that they focused on resolving problems and not who wins the ncaa bracket. BHO sometimes doesn’t seem to realize this. During the early days of the BP disaster he was roasting people at the press club instead of making sure the disaster was getting handled properly.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 7:55 am | Permalink
  2. PatriotSGT wrote:

    I have to second Jonah’s thoughts. Obama was elected with no or very little leadership experience and it has been plainly evident at different times. He’s extremely smart and learning, but these lessons arn’t necessarily in a book. What I don’t understand is why he doesn’t take the advice of his staff, whom have got to be giving him sound suggestions. If not he needs to fire them and get some people who know. Being a leader is not necessarily being the guy who knows everything, its being the guy who knows people who know everything and then actually listening.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 8:40 am | Permalink
  3. Iron Knee wrote:

    Sheesh guys! It doesn’t matter if you agree with Newt. The irony was that right after roasting Obama for talking about basketball, he went on and started talking about basketball. Has irony become chopped liver?

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 9:34 am | Permalink
  4. jonah wrote:

    Newt isn’t the president and, while i hate to defend him, he was clear about it in the text you posted. Like it or not the president of the free world has different standards.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 9:50 am | Permalink
  5. *low snickers* No IK, it’s not chopped, or liver. 😉

    But the frustration implied in Jonah’s and PatriotSGT’s comments, which responds to the implicit–if probably faked–frustration in Gingrich’s comments, is a just reaction. That fundamental frustration–dare I say with a do-too-little president?–is a legitimate concern. I don’t think we’re missing the irony you are pointing out, we’re just reacting to the tone in a way that is relatively sophisticated.

    Be glad, IK, you’ve got smart people reading you. 🙂

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 9:52 am | Permalink
  6. PatriotSGT wrote:

    Thanks Thought Dancer, you said it much better then I ever could.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 10:35 am | Permalink
  7. Iron Knee wrote:

    I understand, and I absolutely love the fact that I have smart readers (who don’t let me get away with anything!). But I also don’t agree with the meme that is being promoted by Republicans that Obama is a “do-too-little president”. See’s-accomplishments/ and

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 10:45 am | Permalink
  8. Jason Ray wrote:

    For once I think everyone has a point. A great deal has been accomplished in the Obama adminstration, and given the 100-year economic crisis that was in place when he took office I think we have to give him a significant amount of credit (no pun intended).

    On the other hand, he is not now, nor has he often, demonstrated the kind of leadership we all had hoped for – or that the country needs. I felt in the 2008 election that what we needed was visionary leadership – the kind of President that could sell the American public on a brighter vision of the future, and then rally them to pressure the COngress to start enacting the things needed to make that future a reality. I thought Obama was exactly the right man at the right time (especially compared to my other choice).

    The reality has been disappointing. Obama can, and hasn’t, used his great strength in motivational speaking to rally the citizens. He could have, and didn’t, paint a clear vision of a brighter future. And he should have, and refused to, take the lead even when the Democrats had super-majorities in both houses. Instead, he let Reid and Pelosi control the agenda and they got their payback in 2010.

    I think people need to give him a break, however, about the NCAA – we have to have a little humanity and little humor given the world the way it is. Now that Obama is starting back into campaign mode, I hope and pray he paints that vision of the future and starts motivating people to support it, because we desperately need that. And from the field of Republican challengers that are likely, I doubt we’ll have a better choice on the other side in 2012 even if he doesn’t.

    2008 was an election where I thought we had a real chance for change. I just hope that 2012 doesn’t become the normal choice between the evil of two lessers.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 12:01 pm | Permalink
  9. Iron Knee wrote:

    While I am inclined to agree with Jason, can I at least get you guys to admit that there is a chance that your disappointment with Obama might have been — even in a subtle way — influenced by the far right slamming pretty much everything he does? See for a new example.

    Actually, not just the far right. The mainstream media in general (in their never ending quest for false equivalences) needs to attack Obama for something and they love a story line, so they seem to have settled on the “disappointing” meme. Like the way they propagated the meme about Al Gore claiming to have invented the Internet, only better since being disappointed in someone can’t be proven right or wrong.

    Do I love everything Obama has done? Of course not. But in balance, I agree with more of what he has done than with any other president I can think of (including Clinton).

    Jason says that Obama should have taken the lead when the Democrats had a super-majority. Um, in case you didn’t notice, the Dems only had a super-majoriy if you counted Lieberman, who was not a Democrat. Not to mention that the Republicans fought every last thing Obama tried to do (even things that were originally Republican ideas). Were you hoping that Obama would rule as some kind of benevolent dictator who would force Congress to do his bidding? Were you hoping that he would “rally the troops” like the Conservatives did with the Tea Party — using millions of dollars of corporate money, plus all the free advertising they wanted from Fox News?

    Think about it, while the media was all bleating on and on about Obama’s NCAA picks, here’s what he was really doing — creating jobs and fixing the economy by doubling our country’s exports. Did you hear about that?

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 3:37 pm | Permalink
  10. Sorry, IK. I’m disappointed with him because of biases that are far to the *left* of what he’s accomplished. I realize that he’s done a lot. I don’t doubt that doing more would have been nearly impossible.

    I also think that doing more is necessary for us to survive as a first world country.

    I truly believe that if we don’t do such progressive/socialist things, such as universal health care, affordable mass transit, truly improved (and rigorous) schooling, we’re going to be doomed to internal collapse. I don’t know if anyone can do what needs doing. I just know that from the moment Obama found it necessary to give up on single-payer, I knew he couldn’t do what really needed doing.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 4:43 pm | Permalink
  11. Laurie wrote:

    I’m certain that I don’t know even a tiny fraction of what President Obama knows on any given subject, so who am I to judge. I feel that his heart is in the right place & he’s giving it his best shot given the obstacles with which he is confronted… every waking second of ever single day.
    I really never expected him to do only the things that suit my needs/wants… he’s too magnanimous to have it all even HIS OWN way.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 5:11 pm | Permalink
  12. Iron Knee wrote:

    Ok, so what is your solution, TD? Give up on Obama? Let the Republicans take over the presidency in addition to the House and the Supreme Court?

    I totally agree with you that we need those things, but blaming Obama for not getting them seems a bit backwards. Do you have someone in mind for president who would be able to magically overcome all the special interests and fix everything that is wrong with this country?

    Disappointed is exactly what those special interests want you to feel.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 5:23 pm | Permalink
  13. Disappointed isn’t the same with me as not supportive. Of course I’m going to support him, so long as he’s the best available person for the job (and he is).

    But, if someone does come along who truly could do the work that needs doing, and somehow also win the election, I’ll change my support.

    What I’m also assuming is that the current problems that need fixing are not fixable because our system can’t be lead the way that it needs leading (which, by the way, I believe should come more from the Congress, but that’s another issue): unfortunately, I’m a bit of a pessimist and I do expect some internal collapses to occur, though not for another 10-20 years.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 5:42 pm | Permalink
  14. Sammy wrote:

    Is there ever a time when there isn’t some crisis somewhere in the world that involves our president? So is he supposed to never ever ever ever have a moment of levity? Do you know how long it takes to fill out an NCAA bracket? Five minutes. And the Prez usually goes almost chalk the whole way, so make that 2.5 minutes. What’s next, criticism on how much fiber is in his diet, causing him to spend too many tax dollars in the bathroom?

    And Newt is so full of contradictions and hypocrisy, he’s going to someday be the very definition of it.

    Sunday, March 20, 2011 at 9:31 pm | Permalink
  15. PatriotSGT wrote:

    For my 2 cents, I think Obama gets a lot of unwarranted abuse, but that also comes with the job so what. However, with ourlegislature wallowing in the mud and stench of budget reform the President is earily silent about the direction he wants the country to take. Same exact thing with healthcare. He let congress fumble around for months then took what they offered. Maybe he doesn’t have any idea’s, and just wants to see what someone else comes up with. Thats what I think, either he has no clue, or he’s sitting back protecting his re-election at the expense of the country.
    He had an excellent oportunity after the AZ shootings, people were beginning to believe in him again, to see his potential. He dropped a budget on congresses desk and then dissappeared from sight again.
    I don’t care if he makes basketball picks, goes golfing, fishing, whatever. What I do care is what he does the rest of the time.

    Monday, March 21, 2011 at 10:57 am | Permalink
  16. Jason Ray wrote:

    @IK – My key point about Obama not taking the lead wasn’t about the super-majority – it was about taking the lead. I understand the Republicans fought everything, and that Lieberman can’t be counted on for anything truly controversial. And I will definitely be supporting Obama against any of the so far identified Republican contgenders, and frankly I don’t expect any better choice will arise that can survive through the Republican primary process.

    I didn’t expect a benevolent dictator, or that he would be the chief rabble-rouser using anyone’s money. What I was hoping for, and what I think the country needs, and what he did NOT do, was get out ahead of the Congressional whirlpool and articulate a clear, comprehensive and compelling vision of the America at the end of his presidency. And without it, he didn’t use it to keep the news cycle focused on what he was trying to do rather than on what the Congress was doing to itself.

    I can’t speak for anyone else, but my perspective of what Obama is and has done isn’t influenced by the far right noise. I’m only focused on what has actually happened. I applaud with vigor all the things that have been done, and the rapid economic recovery. And I think he’ll continue to improve as President. I was just hoping that what he showed on the campaign trail would carry over into the Presidency, and that we would have a young, energetic, visionary leader that could enroll the country in his vision of the future. I guess I’ll have to settle for getting the first two and solid progress instead 🙂

    Monday, March 21, 2011 at 12:12 pm | Permalink
  17. I think what many of us are saying is that Obama’s communication skills, while President, didn’t live up to his remarkable skills from when he was running for President.

    We needed, in effect, fireside chats. I had hopes that the YouTube radio addresses would work out to be the modern version of such, but they didn’t.

    I also had hoped that he would do a *lot* more traveling in the country: listening tours to us. I realize he was working on our miserable diplomatic status abroad for many of those early trips. But I still think he would have done himself, and us, a favor if he had worked through a 50-state tour during his few years: spend several days in each of the 50 states, listening to us. Townhalls as part of a listening tour would have been great.

    There’s a strong sense in the country that once our leaders get to Washington, they never look back. He would have won lots of on-going political capital if he had done just that, looked back at us, regularly. And that capital could then have been used to win fights in Washington, or so it seems to me.

    (Oh, I would have especially have liked to see him visit those states that are not as easy an airplane ride from DC as the bulk of the east coast / midwest is. He would have really impressed people if he had visited Montana and Nebraska, for instance.)

    Monday, March 21, 2011 at 12:34 pm | Permalink
  18. BTN wrote:

    Well, Obama looks to be getting us into a third war (what happens if the UN wants a “peacekeeping” mission in Libya, are we really going to veto that?)

    Doubling exports? First of all, in 2010 our exports were at 2007 levels, so he has a lower bar. Even then, there’s no way we get to 2014 without another major recession because he, Bush, the FED and Congress papered over the last one. If someone goes into debt by overspending, another loan will only go so far.

    I’m majorly disappointed in Obama, but it’s not like he was reading to some kids during a major terroisst attack against the US…. Obama has shown me that he isn’t a visionary – he’s a politician.

    Tuesday, March 22, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Permalink