The Obama administration is in crisis mode. The president’s push for healthcare reform is not going well, and it’s reflected in his approval numbers. After seeing a slight bump for his sharply-worded address to Congress – which likely came only from folks in the “I Hate Joe Wilson Fan Club” – public approval has slipped again as Democrats and Republicans continue their bipartisan effort to patriotically come together . . . and totally oppose a new healthcare proposal.
But that’s not all. In the past few weeks, Obama’s faced some backlash for allowing his attorney general Eric Holder to open an investigation into CIA interrogation methods, after sanctimoniously promising during his campaign that he would look forward, not back.
Then there was Van Jones, Obama’s gift to Glenn Beck, as well as the brilliant lunacy that is the surviving czars Cass Sunstein and John Holdren. One thinks rats should be able to sue you, and the other thinks abortion is a super means of population control. It’s like the “Real World: Pennsylvania Avenue,” and we’re all just waiting to see who’s going to get slapped, who’s going to end up drunk and in flagrante together, and who’s going to say something racist.
And now, it is only a matter of time before Obama must personally deal with the allegations against ACORN, the community organizing outfit he once represented and mentored. The group’s unabashed proclivity for corruption, uncovered by two intrepid 20-somethings in fur coats, cannot be prosecuted by the press or the public alone. So in addition to answering Charlie Sheen’s request for a Truther lunch in the Rose Garden, Obama has an uncomfortable statement on ACORN to look forward to.
After enjoying the kind of public support during the campaign that is usually reserved for Super Bowl winning quarterbacks and the late King of Pop, it seems like everywhere Obama turns there is now only opposition.
Republicans, with the exception of perpetual fence-riders like Olympia Snowe, are against him.
Democrats, with the exception of the loyalists paid to agree with him, are against him.
The public, with the exception of those precious few college students still clinging to their 2008 Obama T-shirts, is against him.
So what’s he doing about it? Why, he’s going on David Letterman, of course.
This administration has taken a page out of the celebutard crisis-management playbook, it seems. Scandal after scandal, setback after setback, and suddenly David Axelrod, cunning strategist-in-chief has morphed into Elliot Mintz, spray-tanned, Versace-besotted publicist to the stars.
Thoughtful political strategists would tell Obama that less is more, of course. The less public the president is, the more weight he actually carries. Thoughtful political strategists would also tell him that appearing on five television networks in one day – ABC, CBS, CNN, NBC and Univision – as he did on Sunday, is not a good way to sell healthcare or anything else. It’s merely a good way to look desperate. And thoughtful political strategists would tell him that sitting down with David Letterman, the schlocky, stammering Medieval Times court jester of the media, is not the best way to convey the seriousness of Obama’s message.
But thoughtful political strategists have clearly been expelled from the White House, apparently replaced by the Persian Bizarre public relations gurus that deal so deftly with the Paris Hiltons and Lindsay Lohans of the world.
For this administration, the disaster that is Obama’s healthcare push is like a leaked celebrity mug shot after a night out with Divine Brown. The celebutard penance isn’t to go off and quietly do good works (in Obama’s case, hammer out a truly saleable, bipartisan healthcare bill) – it’s a public appearance on a feel-good, late-night talk show.
For this administration, the public outrage over bizarre statements by comrade Jones, kooky Cass, and harebrained Holdren is like an image-destroying sex tape, a train wreck that is downloaded and watched over and over and over again. And the celebutard response isn’t to take responsibility and apologize, it’s to reinvent! Get pregnant! Volunteer (on camera) at a soup kitchen! Do “Dancing with the Stars!” (Or in Obama’s case, as someone on Twitter suggested to me, “Dancing with the Czars.”)
And for this administration, the news that ACORN is dirtier than Mike Rowe in a vat of sewage, is like the accidental nip-slip or crotch-shot caught on tape by pesky paparazzi. A good celebutard publicist would tell you, "Pretend it didn't happen. Just ignore it, and it will go away eventually."
The problem with all of this is that the kind of damage control that works in Hollywood – Hugh Grant’s sheepish apology for cuckolding Elizabeth Hurley on Jay Leno instantly restored his image as America’s favorite floppy-haired fop – does not work in Washington, where there’s far less patience and far less room for error.
If healthcare is serious to Obama, he needs to act seriously. If he’s really interested in bipartisanship, he needs to be less partisan. If wants the country to trust him, he needs to be trustworthy, and surround himself with serious, trustworthy people.
Otherwise, the president looks like any other hopeless, eccentric, stumbling celebrity who can’t seem to get his act together, running breathlessly around the media to see if someone can make him look good. That might be okay for Mickey Rourke, but Obama might want to abandon the celebutard playbook before he and his healthcare reform end up in reality show hell, on the D list.
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