President Obama these days brings to mind “Being John Malkovich.” That’s Spike Jonze’s weird 1999 film in which Malkovich the actor and title character appears in multiple incarnations, sometimes simultaneously. It’s a hilarious bad dream.
OK, so the president hasn’t actually gotten that strange (although some of his tea partying opponents may disagree). But it seems as if the man has cloned himself.
He’s all over the place: Speeches, town hall cheerleading sessions, radio/YouTube broadcasts. And today he set the Olympic record for appearances on the Sunday morning TV talkfests.
Talk about a glutton for punishment! Having to explain again and again and again (and again and again) the details of your plan for healthcare reform. Not to mention racism in America today just because Banquo’s ghost … no, Jimmy Carter … brought it up days ago.
In fact, Obama covered a wide range of issues in responding to questions from his TV interrogators. Everything from Afghanistan and Osama bin Laden to North Korea and swine flu to the baseball playoffs. (He loves the White Sox but had good things to say about the Cardinals and the Yankees.)
But reforming healthcare in the United States was his main message. And despite the lack of congressional bipartisanship on any of the proposals on Capitol Hill, he says he’s still optimistic that a bill can be passed.
“[T]here are a whole bunch of details that still have to get worked out,” Obama told CNN’s John King. “But what I’ll say is, is that right now I’m pleased that, basically, we’ve got 80 percent agreement, we’ve got to really work on that next 20 percent over the last few weeks.”
And he rejected Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell’s assertion that Obama’s conservative opponents were “winning the healthcare debate.”
“Well, you know ... they were saying they were winning during the election, too,” he said.
Some have suggested that Obama is all over the place now, scrambling to take control of healthcare (and other issues) because he waited too long while his opponents ranted about “death panels” and a “government takeover.”
“The inmates took over the asylum, trivializing and poisoning the national discourse while the president bided his time,” New York Times columnist Frank Rich wrote last week in a piece headlined “Obama’s Squandered Summer.”
Others suggest that “the very public offensive could be a perfect prescription for his top domestic priority.”
"Their best card is Obama himself and his ability to sway a crowd,” Dan Amundson, research director at George Mason University's Center for Media and Public Affairs in Washington, told Reuters. "The big trick for them will be to make sure the message and the points stay consistent without becoming sort of the canned speech.”
In any case, Sunday is just a warm-up for a week full of presidential public appearances.
Obama will give a speech on the economy at Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, NY. It’ll also give him a chance to tout his 10-year plan for investing $12 billion in such schools. Then there’ll be major meetings at the United Nations, where the world will be looking for American leadership.
Before that, Obama will exchange witticisms with David Letterman. Because of the scheduling conflict Monday night, he won’t be able to appear on the season opener of “Dancing With The Stars” (as former House Republican Leader Tom “The Hammer” Delay is doing), nor can he sing in “Tosca” as the Metropolitan Opera opens its season.
Oh, well. The guy can’t do everything.
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