President Barack Obama paid homage to the fallen Navy SEALs on Tuesday, as criticism about his nationally televised speech on the credit downgrade reverberated.
He canceled a trip to Springfield, Va., at the last minute to fly to Dover Air Force Base in Delaware to view the return of the bodies of the 30 U.S. troops, including 22 SEALs, killed when a helicopter was shot down in Afghanistan. The ceremony was closed.
Earlier, it had been reported that he was going to spend the day in closed-oor meetings discussing fuel efficiency standards for trucks. Press Secretary Jay Carney’s daily White House media briefing was canceled with no explanation.
Obama was criticized heavily for Monday's speech, which did nothing to calm plummeting stock markets. The Dow Jones Industrial Average dipped below 11,000 for the first time in nine months as he spoke and then dropped 230 more points by the end of the day.
“It was a vote of no confidence,” The Washington Times proclaimed in an editorial headlined “Markets to Obama: shut up.”
In the first draft of his speech, the president didn’t even plan to mention the Standard & Poor’s downgrade, Dana Milbank reported in The Washington Post. That is why the speech was pushed back half an hour — and even then, he was 22 minutes behind schedule by the time he reached the podium.
Milbank said it is not fair to blame Obama for the Wall Street plunge. “Almost certainly, the markets ignored him. And that’s the problem: The most powerful man in the world seems strangely powerless, and irresolute, as larger forces bring down the country and his presidency.”
John Podhoretz in the New York Post described the speech as “the worst moment of Obama's presidency, bar none.” He likened the president’s comment that the United States always will be “a triple-A country” to a little league coach’s comments to boost a bunch of 10-year-olds.
“Gosh, thanks for bucking us up after the loss to the Bad News Bears, Mr. O!” Podhoretz wrote. “After we shower, can we get pizza and ice cream?”
The “triple-A country” comment was also called out by the Chicago Tribune, which said in an editorial, “The lesson from the latest debacle on Wall Street is that America won't be a triple-A country unless those in power step up to their responsibilities.”
Andrew Malcolm in the Los Angeles Times said Obama’s speech was “like a grand restaurant with the most romantic atmosphere, crackling fireplace, flickering candles, exquisite place settings. And with impressive style the waiter proudly serves an empty plate – and awaits your awe.”
Malcolm criticized Obama for saying he intends to present his own recommendations “over the coming weeks” on how the country should proceed.
“Over the coming weeks?” wrote Malcolm. “The need for a balanced, long-term approach was clear the day he took office $3+ trillion dollars ago and sometime soon he'll share his plans?
“Obama is still saying, 'Yes, we can.' But he never explains why we haven't.”
Bret Stephens even asked whether the president is “stupid” in The Wall Street Journal. “He makes predictions that prove false. He makes promises he cannot honor. He raises expectations he cannot meet. He reneges on commitments made in private. He surrenders positions staked in public. He is absent from issues in which he has a duty to be involved. He is overbearing when he ought to be absent.
“Every time he opens his mouth, he subtracts from the sum total of financial capital,” Stephens wrote.
“Stupid is as stupid does, said the great philosopher Forrest Gump. The presidency of Barack Obama is a case study in stupid does.”
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