Can Obama stand the gaff?

Rick Moran
Enduring nasty criticism as president is right at the top of the list under "Job Requirements." There's just no getting around it and every president - even George Washington - was forced to see his character, his reputation, his integrity challenged in the most personal way imaginable.

According to Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard Blog who has read WaPo political reporter Dan Balz's book on the 2008 campaign, President Obama was unprepared for this kind of criticism. And, the way David Axelrod describes it in a memo to Obama prior to the start of the contest, the candidate was hypersensitive to any criticism at all:

Obama's always talking tough...he's from Chicago, he brings guns to knife fights, he was editor of the Harvard Law Review, etc. But it seems not everyone inside his campaign was terribly convinced that Obama had what it takes to survive the rough and tumble of a national political campaign. From Dan Balz's new book, a memo from Axelrod to Obama before he announced in 2006:

Axelrod also warned that Obama's confessions of youthful drug use, described in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father," would be used against him. "This is more than an unpleasant inconvenience," he wrote. "It goes to your willingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism. At the risk of triggering the very reaction that concerns me, I don't know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch. You care far too much what is written and said about you. You don't relish combat when it becomes personal and nasty. When the largely irrelevant Alan Keyes attacked you, you flinched," he said of Obama's 2004 Senate opponent.

You can see it at his press conferences now. Even though most reporters fall all over themselves trying not to ask questions that imply criticism of his policies or his abilities, the very nature of the questions seem to rile our president. He stiffens as if someone rammed a board against his spine. His face tightens up, his jaw begins working, and his lips spread out in a straight line. He then uses sarcasm that sometimes sounds a little bitter to try and defuse the tension while his adoring sycophants laugh nervously in the background.

He carries this attitude over to foreign leaders as well. His relations with French President Nikolas Sarkozy cooled considerably after he criticized Obama's Iran policy and took him to task for his suggestion that the EU stimulate their economies as he was bankrupting ours. Sarkozy also had some choice words about Obama's relative youth and inexperience.

In response, Obama snubbed the French President's request for a lunch when he was in Europe in June, and distanced himself generally from the Frenchman. Was this spite? It can certainly be interpreted that way.

I'm sure no president likes to be attacked. But it's how one handles such adversity that reveals the true character of the man in the Oval Office. And to my eyes, Obama has shown himself to be small, petty, and much too sensitive to criticism to handle a job where a bullseye is imprinted on your chest every day of the week.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky





Enduring nasty criticism as president is right at the top of the list under "Job Requirements." There's just no getting around it and every president - even George Washington - was forced to see his character, his reputation, his integrity challenged in the most personal way imaginable.

According to Michael Goldfarb at the Weekly Standard Blog who has read WaPo political reporter Dan Balz's book on the 2008 campaign, President Obama was unprepared for this kind of criticism. And, the way David Axelrod describes it in a memo to Obama prior to the start of the contest, the candidate was hypersensitive to any criticism at all:

Obama's always talking tough...he's from Chicago, he brings guns to knife fights, he was editor of the Harvard Law Review, etc. But it seems not everyone inside his campaign was terribly convinced that Obama had what it takes to survive the rough and tumble of a national political campaign. From Dan Balz's new book, a memo from Axelrod to Obama before he announced in 2006:

Axelrod also warned that Obama's confessions of youthful drug use, described in his memoir, "Dreams From My Father," would be used against him. "This is more than an unpleasant inconvenience," he wrote. "It goes to your willingness and ability to put up with something you have never experienced on a sustained basis: criticism. At the risk of triggering the very reaction that concerns me, I don't know if you are Muhammad Ali or Floyd Patterson when it comes to taking a punch. You care far too much what is written and said about you. You don't relish combat when it becomes personal and nasty. When the largely irrelevant Alan Keyes attacked you, you flinched," he said of Obama's 2004 Senate opponent.

You can see it at his press conferences now. Even though most reporters fall all over themselves trying not to ask questions that imply criticism of his policies or his abilities, the very nature of the questions seem to rile our president. He stiffens as if someone rammed a board against his spine. His face tightens up, his jaw begins working, and his lips spread out in a straight line. He then uses sarcasm that sometimes sounds a little bitter to try and defuse the tension while his adoring sycophants laugh nervously in the background.

He carries this attitude over to foreign leaders as well. His relations with French President Nikolas Sarkozy cooled considerably after he criticized Obama's Iran policy and took him to task for his suggestion that the EU stimulate their economies as he was bankrupting ours. Sarkozy also had some choice words about Obama's relative youth and inexperience.

In response, Obama snubbed the French President's request for a lunch when he was in Europe in June, and distanced himself generally from the Frenchman. Was this spite? It can certainly be interpreted that way.

I'm sure no president likes to be attacked. But it's how one handles such adversity that reveals the true character of the man in the Oval Office. And to my eyes, Obama has shown himself to be small, petty, and much too sensitive to criticism to handle a job where a bullseye is imprinted on your chest every day of the week.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky