By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Daring to be dull

In my latest for The Guardian, I argue that media coverage of last night’s news conference represents the normalization of the Obama presidency. By daring to be boring, Barack Obama hopes to lower expectations for himself, if not necessarily for what he wants to accomplish.

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24 Comments

  1. Bill Baar

    We should be so lucky for dull.Check the word cloud over at the Weekly Standard from last night and Ham’s note on the word well standing out so, and Obama’s luck that uhhhs and ummms not transcribed.What you take for dull is Obama’s disconnectedness from governing. Obama does politics, he doesn’t govern (or lead) save spending money and contracts to bind the Democrat factions.It means we’re in for far from dull times, and we’ll pay a dear price for it. It’s only started and we’ve yet to hit Biden’s sure to come foreign crisis.

  2. Tunder

    Bill,Glad you emerged long enough from your paranoid bunker to watch Obama’s press conference last night. Other than a “feeling” you have, anything to base you certainty that not only will some terrible foreign crisis happen soon but that Obama’s national defense team won’t be up to the task? And Cheney spewing that Obama is making us less safe doesn’t count.

  3. An Astute Observer

    **Other than a “feeling” you have, anything to base you certainty that not only will some terrible foreign crisis happen soon but that Obama’s national defense team won’t be up to the task?**Well, it’s more than a feeling..it’s the VP Biden’s predictions.DO you have naything other than a “feeling” that the team WILL be up for the task?Oh, I forgot, you are depending on his vast experience and track record.

  4. Bill Baar

    We’ll find out soon enough I fear.Witness the Geitner / Goolsbee gaffees on the dollar today.This isn’t government by the left, or liberalism; it’s government by clods.The economy is a problem in America. It’s a catastrophe in many other part of the world and will contribute to instablitity and violence to already unsettled world. (Witness UU William J. Perry’s advice to Obama on North Korea for example.) Or Mexico were workers already returning home to what given lack of US jobs?Like I said, dull times these will not be…. ummh…uhhh… those aren’t a commander’s words.

  5. Tunder

    No, not Obama’s vast experience, his national security team. Remember, Casey? The guy Bush thought so highly of?

  6. Bill Baar

    PS Bill Perry, a UU and Obama Foreign Policy adviser not so long,“If North Korea and Iran cannot be contained, we face the real danger of a cascade of proliferation” of nuclear armed-states, he said. “Indeed, I believe that today we are clearly at the tipping point of nuclear proliferation. And if the world does tip, it will be irreversible and dangerous beyond the imagination of most people.” Dull it ain’t.

  7. An Astute Observer

    **Remember, Casey? The guy Bush thought so highly of?**Yeah, you remember him too, he same guys the Liberals hated?

  8. Peter Porcupine

    DK – let Geithner make one more speech, and then sell Grandpa’s gold watch for more than Ed McMahon ever dreamed. Our new multi-national currency must have evangelicals a-twitter (I’m told it’s a mark of end times).

  9. Neil

    Dubya of course set a new standard for inarticulateness that no politician will match for the next 100 years, Obama’s “umms” notwithstanding. Umm away, if after you’re done you emit a coherent sentence. Bill, what’s this “UU” stuff? What does it have to do with the topic?

  10. Bill Baar

    Neil, I get DK through a Unitarian Univesalist feed… Perry is a UU…so is DK I gather..It’s really the only connection and only of interest I guess to fellow UUs who land here.

  11. Bill H.

    I get a hoot out of anybody criticizing Obama for being “dull,” “boring” and for the occasional ums and ahhhs that turn up when he speaks off the cuff. Here we have just completed eight years of the most patently inarticulate, incompetent drivel delivered in all too infrequent press conferences and we slam the new guy for being thoughtful. “Mission Accomplished!” “Bring it ON!!” Great and exciting stuff from yesteryear, delivered in unequivocal certitude. Ah, for the good old days.

  12. zadig

    What we’re seeing with Obama is what we would have seen with President Gore — an intelligent, well-informed president who gives measured, thoughtful, and above all accurate answers.The press has all, to a person, jumped on the Boring bandwagon because they’re used to short, easily-quoted, but sadly inaccurate or incomplete sound bites, and they’re annoyed at having to work hard.But they can’t go to Obama barbecues or sit down to have a beer with him! So he’s dull! Boring! Uses big words they don’t like!I say if they can’t handle a smart president, they should quit and let people who want to do Journalism take over.

  13. Bill Baar

    Obama’s not dull. He’s disconnected. He’s parochial focused on local things. He’s a Chicago Ward Politican. What counts is how he translates into Farsi, Arabic, and Korean because leaders there will react to him, and will hit when we least expect it in the space of an Obama ummh… Biden got that right.

  14. Bill Baar

    Try it this way.Watch Assad, Akmenijad, Kim Il Sung speak. Watch if they use a teleprompter or big screen TV for fear of a slip before their people. Watch if the seem measured and thoughtful, and then ask yourself how they’ll preceive Obama’s measured, thoughful, responses.As yourself if they will see a leader uncomfortable with his power instead, and how sure how to use it.Then ask how you’ll think they’ll play him.I didn’t see dullness there. I saw a man with vast power not clear what he was about… I shutter when I hear him and I fear when the test comes he’ll lash out with fearful revenge… Perry is telling Obama …irreversible and dangerous beyond the imagination of most people…When that wake up hits Obama, God help the world.

  15. Bill H.

    I think that it’s difficult to argue that Obama is disconnected when his approval rate tops 70%. And there seems to be no question that his administration is viewed more favorably overseas. I’ll take my chances with a prudent, thoughtful president anytime. Bravado and bombast didn’t keep us from being “hit” on 9/11. This country needs to rely on a strong, multinational intelligence network to ward off the crazies, and in my view we have a much greater opportunity to have that now than we did before.

  16. Dan Kennedy

    Bill Baar: Yes, I am a UU. What is the feed you’re using? I’m curious.

  17. Rob

    Whatever Bill Baar is smoking, I want some of it. He clearly is not living in the world most of us reside in.

  18. lkcape

    I really find it interesting that a lot of people keep harping back to GW and making excuses for Obama’s lack of substance.Perhaps they wish for a Bush return so that they have someone to bash without having to tread on one of their own.Obama, last night, appeared to have command of his talking points. But he also appeared scared to death that he was going to fluff them and have his puppet masters, lead by Chief-of-Staff, Emmanuel, skin him in the morning.

  19. An Astute Observer

    **I think that it's difficult to argue that Obama is disconnected when his approval rate tops 70%.**Poll puts Obama's rating at 'about 50-50'http://content.usatoday.com/communities/theoval/post/2009/03/64542435/1– One pollster puts Obama's approval/disapproval around 50-50: "The honeymoon is over, a national poll will signal today as President Obama's job approval stumbles to about 50% over the lack of improvement with the crippled economy. … **And there seems to be no question that his administration is viewed more favorably overseas.*8Have you not noticed the Palestinians & Iranians all have snubbed Obama? And Al Queda called him the "boy in the White House".Many in the world hate us, not because of Bush, but because of envy. Doesn't matter who is president. Most of the world live in flats as big as our refrigerators.

  20. Dan Kennedy

    Not So: The day after the Zogby poll is discredited, you give us … the Zogby poll!

  21. An Astute Observer

    The Zogby poll is discredited byyyy…..people who don’t like the result of the Zogby Poll! WHat a surprise!(BTW…What’s the citation for the Obama approval rating “topping 70%”? I missed that.)

  22. Bill Baar

    Dan, I follow via http://uupdates.net/ If that’s a feed or an aggregator I don’t know. But you come over with the rest of the UUs.By disconnected I mean he’s insulated himself with this Chicago crowd of Axelrod, Emmanuel, and Jarret. He sounds just like Richie Daley in these press conferences and it seems these guys will try and run things just as Daley runs Chicago. Patronage, contracts to buddies and allies, and a profound tin ear to some constitutience e.g. the notion to bill insurance on service connected vets, figuring they can get away with known tax problems on appointments e.g. Geitner, and Dashle. It’s the arrogance of typical Chicaog Politicans.Except now these guys are on a world stage and North Korea getting ready to launch a missle today or tomorrow… these guys only think of Koreans as a group they can shake down for donations. That’s how small their world is… they’re disconnected.A note from a friend on Cap Hill today…. …he [Obama] doesn’t have a lot of leg experience and has outsourced everything on that score to Pelosi which will come back to bite him in the ass and he’s totally overexposing himself in the media which devalues his only real currency which is his positive, reasonable tone. If people get tired of listening to him, he’s done could be a three-year lame duck.That’s not a forecast certain. Just how one guy who’s been around a while sees Obama setting himself up. I think a set up a guy who’s really disconnected does: very insular… the only thing people not factoring in (except Biden) is a foreign crisis… that’s coming for sure and will crash down on Obama. I really fear how he’ll respond. It could be a really kinetic response… that would be very Chicago of him too where shoot to kill was one Mayor’s response. It’s a tough town and what Obama was a student of some tough people.PS Chicago Trib today on Rahm E’s stint with Fannie Mae… he’s a human cash register.http://www.chicagotribune.com/news/politics/obama/chi-rahm-emanuel-profit-26-mar26,0,5682373.story

  23. Dan Kennedy

    Bill Baar: That’s an interesting-looking feed, although I’m staying away from it — it looks like new content comes in about every 20 seconds. Too much. But glad you’re reading Media Nation.Not So Astute: I did not post the refutation of Zogby for your benefit, because I know you’re uneducable. Those who know and respect the work of Nate Silver will find it enlightening, though.

  24. An Astute Observer

    In The Tank Dan: Im educable enough to realize there are 2 sides to the political discussion. You are so into your own Liberal loop you can’t see anything else besides your own perspective. Your blog should be called “Liberald Nation” or “Obama Nation”…since you can’t seem to say anything ‘cept the party line.Do me a favor…on BTP press this week, see if you can go a week without having Sarah Palin on the brain.

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