The Giant Sucking Sound You Hear

Thursday, 17 June 2010 04:53 AM Written by 

(isn’t president obama with a straw)

But it is President Obama with a straw man. A leaden rhetorical touch. And a condescension so tone-deaf and inappropriate that it would have still seemed untoward if he’d been speaking to a group of elementary school children.

But here he was, two weeks ago, talking to a group of Grand Isle, Louisiana residents:

Even though I'm president of the United States, my power is not limitless. So I can't dive down there and plug the hole. I can't suck it up with a straw. All I can do is make sure that I put honest, hard-working, smart people in place ... to implement this thing.

I don’t know what’s more shocking: that he said it, that the locals didn’t vomit on the table when he did, or that the folks who run the White House multimedia ministry thought it was a nice moment to include in their online “West Wing Week” show. 

(You can watch the video here. The delivery, as distant and off-putting as the verbiage, begins at the 3:10 mark.)

I’ll leave the science and the logistics of this disaster to the experts, because Lord knows they’re beyond maddening and seeming to border on the impossible. But in the rhetoric and communication of this crisis, it’s clear that the oil is just about the only thing President Obama hasn't been sucking up.

To report inappropriate comments, abuse and/or repeat offenders, please send an email to socialmedia@post-gazette.com and include a link to the article and a copy of the comment. Your report will be reviewed in a timely manner. Thank you.