President Obama accused Republicans on Tuesday of launching an “ideological crusade” to hold the “economy hostage” over “ideological” and “reckless” demands to dismantle his health care law. “In other words,” he said, “they demanded ransom just for doing their jobs.”
Several readers who support Obama said they were disappointed by the tone of his remarks. One from Ohio wrote, “He needs to chill. He looks defensive and has no reason to be.” An independent voter in Michigan wrote, “He seems like an angry kid.” A Maryland Democrat complained, “I love the man, but why is he yelling at me?”
I had a similar reaction listening to the remarks shortly after writing a column in defense of Obama’s position.
Is the president lecturing, belittling Americans right now? Or the GOP House? Comms issue: Voters watching might not know difference— Ron Fournier (@ron_fournier) October 1, 2013
An otherwise solid argument can be undercut by the words a president chooses and the tone that greases them. It’s not enough to be right as a leader if you insult voters with your righteousness. It’s not just Obama. Senior White House adviser Dan Pfeiffer recently said the White House is opposed to “negotiating with people with a bomb strapped to their chests,” an irresponsible and overheated image.
The Republican Party engineered this stalemate and is likely to shoulder most of the blame. That is, unless the Democratic Party matches the GOP on pettiness, stubbornness, and demagoguery. Presidents Reagan and Clinton had a way of attacking their rivals with a smile, making their point without making themselves look smaller. Can Obama?
Twenty-six hundred words into a long-winded address, Obama took a breath and said, “Let me repeat, I will not negotiate over Congress’ responsibility to pay bills it’s already racked up. I’m not going to allow anybody to drag the good name of the United States of America through the mud just to refight a settled election or extract ideological demands.” Ten sentences later, he added, “We’re better than this. Certainly, the American people are a lot better than this.”
Yes, they are. And they might expect a better tone from their president.
What We're Following See More »
With three days until the first debate, the polls are coming fast and furious. The latest round:
- An Associated Press/Gfk poll of registered voters found very few voters committed, with Clinton leading Trump, 37% to 29%, and Gary Johnson at 7%.
- A McClatchy-Marist poll gave Clinton a six-point edge, 45% to 39%, in a four-way ballot test. Johnson pulls 10% support, with Jill Stein at 4%.
- Rasmussen, which has drawn criticism for continually showing Donald Trump doing much better than he does in other polls, is at it again. A new survey gives Trump a five-point lead, 44%-39%.
In contrast to Hillary Clinton's meticulous debate practice sessions, Donald Trump "is largely shunning traditional debate preparations, but has been watching video of…Clinton’s best and worst debate moments, looking for her vulnerabilities.” Trump “has paid only cursory attention to briefing materials. He has refused to use lecterns in mock debate sessions despite the urging of his advisers. He prefers spitballing ideas with his team rather than honing them into crisp, two-minute answers.”
Donald Trump "is on the precipice of becoming the only major-party presidential candidate this century not to reach out to millions of American voters whose dominant, first or just preferred language is Spanish. Trump has not only failed to buy any Spanish-language television or radio ads, he so far has avoided even offering a translation of his website into Spanish, breaking with two decades of bipartisan tradition."
Bill and Hillary Clinton have purchased the home next door to their primary residence in tony Chappaqua, New York, for $1.16 million. "By purchasing the new home, the Clinton's now own the entire cul-de-sac at the end of the road in the leafy New York suburb. The purchase makes it easier for the United States Secret Service to protect the former president and possible future commander in chief."