New York Times reporter Helene Cooper wants to know: Does Barack Obama seem like, you know, a crybaby?
Cooper’s piece (6/14/12) about the campaign’s economic messaging dwells on Obama’s tendency to pin the blame elsewhere—namely on his Republican predecessor and others in the party who adhere to favor similar policies. She writes that
as the furor created last week over Mr. Obama’s remark that the private sector is “doing fine” demonstrated, the president must walk a tightrope whenever he talks about the economy.
What kind of tightrope? According to Cooper, Obama must talk about his accomplishments but “he cannot go too far in sounding optimistic.”
That makes sense. But the real problem, as she sees it, is that Obama blames Republican policies and the legacy of the Bush administration for the economy he inherited:
So Mr. Obama ends up falling back—again and again—on the Barack Obama Defensive Offensive—which largely means, blame the Republicans. And while that strategy is not necessarily doomed to fail—polls show far more Americans still blame President George W. Bush for the economic decline than blame Mr. Obama—it also runs the danger of making Mr. Obama come across as a crybaby, not to mention opening him up to ridicule from the right.
Let’s set aside the danger of being ridiculed by the right, which will happen no matter what. Obama might be a “crybaby” for criticizing the Bush era? As in the way most Americans continue to blame Bush for the economic disaster? That doesn’t make any kind of sense.
Then again, this is a newspaper that once told readers (1/28/08) that Bush’s economic record “would be the envy of most presidents.” And a paper that seems unusually concerned with the dangers of populist economic appeals—calling talk of raising taxes on the wealthy is “politically sensitive“—though that idea is supported overwhelmingly by most Americans.