President Barack Obama speaks during the first presidential debate in Denver on Oct. 3, 2012.
Credits: REUTERS/Jim Bourg
Now we know why Barack Obama uses a teleprompter everywhere, even taking it once to a photo-op in an elementary school.
Now we know why he hasn’t had a press conference in months, preferring to go on entertainment shows like The View (he told his fawning interviewers he is “eye candy”) and David Letterman’s show (first question: How much do you weigh?).
We know because of the shock of last week’s presidential debate with Mitt Romney. The 60 million Americans who watched that debate had been told a hundred times that Obama was the smartest president since Jefferson, the greatest orator since Churchill. And they had been told that Mitt Romney was a heartless gazillionaire.
What they saw was the opposite, for 90 excruciating minutes. When Obama didn’t have a cue card or a teleprompter, when he couldn’t simply skip questions he didn’t like, or talk out the clock, he was a disaster.
The 90 minutes was summed up in a plaintive appeal, a whine, really, from Obama, mid-debate, to the moderator, Jim Lehrer.
“You may want to move on to the next topic,” he pleaded. But this was one time the media could not save him.
The topic Obama wanted to move on from was the economy. It hasn’t been a strength of his presidency. Forty-seven million Americans are on food stamps, unemployment has been around 8% for more than three years (much higher, when you include unemployed workers who have simply giving up looking for jobs). Banks continue to fail, debt has reached
$16 trillion, including more than $1 trillion held by China. Obama might have wanted to move on to the next topic, but Americans were riveted.
It wasn’t just his lack of command of the facts, or of a plan to deal with it. It was the revelation — through his tone, his body language, his stammering — that he actually didn’t even care too much about it. It didn’t interest him. “I think there’s a laziness in me,” Obama once told Barbara Walters.
That’s not true actually. Obama isn’t lazy. He’s just lazy about presidential duties. He’s an avid golfer, having done so 104 times since taking office. He has set a record for fundraising dinners. And as a fawning biography last month in The New York Times — headlined “The Competitor in Chief” shows — he spends hours training for amateur sports. According to the Times, he’s diligent at playing pool, cooking chili, playing cards, bowling, basketball and even doodling.
The Times wrote this as praise — that Obama wants to be the best at so many things. But for anyone not in Obama’s thrall, it was a terrifying look at how unfocused Obama is on the serious work of being president.
It’s simply too boring for him. He’s never been an executive before — never run a business, a town, anything really, other than running his mouth. But being president is hard.
It’s not just economics that Obama ignores. Foreign policy is a disaster, too. But Obama has skipped more than 50% of his daily national security briefings. Including the morning after the U.S. consulate in Benghazi was ransacked and the U.S. ambassador there was murdered. Perhaps he had been staying up too late the night before — the afternoon of the attack, instead of heading to the White House situation room, he flew to Las Vegas for a fundraiser.The debates revealed Obama as a lightweight. But they also revealed that for four years, the mainstream media has covered up that fact.