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FOR RELEASE FRIDAY, OCT. 10, 2014
THE DISTANT OBAMA
BY BOB FRANKEN
Given his low standing in the polls and the growing list of friends and foes alike who say he is too aloof and lacks the fire needed for leadership, do not be at all surprised if we suddenly see Barack Obama throw a temper tantrum in some very public place.
There was a time when being described as “No Drama Obama” was a plus for him, as he very carefully cultivated an image of being the coolest guy on the planet. He won two presidential elections, in part because he was perceived as being above it all, not covered in the muck that defines politics. He was the Democrats’ rock-star candidate and drew huge crowds wherever the campaign trail took him.
Now the campaign trail is the last place you’ll find him. Those same Democrats are no longer running with him, but from him. That’s because Obama’s approval ratings are in the dumpster. Of course, every president will tell you that he’s not ruled by the polls, or at least his peeps will, and every one of them is being untruthful. They care a lot, including this one, who is sensitive to the point that if the latest surveys show a particular criticism, you can bank on his trying to demonstrate that it just ain’t so. That’s why I think it’s just a matter of time before we will witness Mr. Obama letting loose on camera with an old-fashioned hissy fit. What a photo op that will be, maybe when he’s getting together with Joe Biden.
The vice president has been having a tough time of it recently. It’s the same old problem where he engages mouth before brain and blurts out something that makes him a gaffeingstock still again. This time he was ordered to call the leaders of Turkey and the United Arab Emirates for making remarks at Harvard suggesting that they had been ISIL enablers. Never mind that administration types have been saying the exact same thing privately, Mr. Biden did it right out in the open, which caused the leaders of two countries to go bananas themselves. Since they’re key to the anti-ISIL “coalition” that is more fantasy than reality thus far, Biden had to call them and eat a little Joe, even though he was speaking the truth.
I have to say that I wonder if we have it wrong, that Biden isn’t really blundering at all. Call me a cynic, but to me, it’s entirely possible that the president sends his veep motormouth out to express what the boss is really thinking, without having to accept the consequences for it. I’ve actually harbored those doubts since May 2012, when Biden went on “Meet the Press” to express his backing for gay marriage. The White House put on quite a show of putting down No. 2, because No. 1 hadn’t come out with his official support. A few days later, he did. Gee, what a surprise.
By all accounts, this is a president who truly doesn’t like to mix it up. The latest barrage of insults about that is more friendly fire, coming this time from former CIA Director and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta, one of the most respected men in Washington. Admittedly that’s a real slow track, but he is. He’s out hustling his new memoir, “Worthy Fights,” in which he’s scathingly critical of the way “the president relies on the logic of a law professor rather than the passion of a leader.” That’s the third recent book that trashes him. Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton also have dumped on him. Of course, they, too, are former Obamanistas.
Maybe that will be how his blowout will happen. He’ll invite all three to lunch, bring in the cameras and let them have it. Maybe sock it to ’em on live TV. Then again, he might just wimp out and have Joe Biden do it.
© 2014 Bob Franken
Distributed by King Features Syndicate, Inc.