November 25, 2009

The Shine is Dulling Quickly

Obama's shine is quickly fading, on all sides of the spectrum.

It's not just the big things about this adminstration that are irratating people, it's starting to be the little things too. Like words ...

Perhaps it was a sign when President Barack Obama sat down in January to record his first weekly address and announced: “We begin this year and this administration in the midst of an unprecedented crisis that calls for unprecedented action."

What has followed is declaration after declaration of “unprecedented” milestones. Some of them are legitimate firsts, like the president’s online town hall at the White House in May.

But others the president wins merely on a technicality, and several clearly already have precedent.

I guess you could say it's unprecedented for the media to say something bad about Obama.

The White House’s announcement of its unprecedented – “a first by an American president visiting China” – town hall meeting with students in Beijing, for instance, drew a collective eye-roll in certain circles back home, namely among former aides to President George W. Bush who had already been grumbling about Obama’s carefree application of “unprecedented.”

“I think I attended a town hall with President Bush in China,” former Bush adviser Karen Hughes quipped with a laugh, recalling a 2002 Bush speech in Beijing where he took questions from the audience

Far be it from Obama to admit that Bush did something before he did ...

And when it comes to the Chinese town hall, White House officials say the ex-Bush aides have it all wrong – saying it was the first full-blown “town hall” by a U.S. president in China (compared to Clinton and Bush, who took questions after a speech). It was also the first U.S. presidential event streamed to an Internet audience in China, the first with questions from the Internet and it garnered the biggest viewership, with 55 million Internet hits alone – making its audience unprecedented, the official said.

So while Bush and Clinton may have done it first, they didn't do it like Obama did it so that makes Obama doing it first because his was a better way to do it.

It's even better that the media is calling him out on this ...

Either way, for a president whose approach to exaggerated critiques of his administration is to “call ‘em out” and who has made an issue of forcing corporate America to expose the fine print, it’s a wonder if his use of “unprecedented” would pass his own litmus test.

And the experts they asked about Obama's use of the word unprecedented says about himself stop short of saying his narcassitic ...

It’s also a reflection of the president personally.

“It says how very unique he feels he is,” said Stephen Hess, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution, who worked in the Eisenhower, Nixon, Ford and Carter administrations. Hess described Obama as “a man who sees himself as unprecedented in every way … given his background – his mother, his father, where he grew up, how he became president of the United States.”

“Of course, Biblically there’s nothing new under the sun and most everything he’s done as president there is some precedent for somewhere,” he added. “What he does is variations on a theme.”

“I don’t think he gets special credit for being unprecedented, but he thinks that way,” he said. “I think that tells us more about him than really anything else about how he runs the White House.”

Ouch, That is going to leave a mark.

But just how much does Obama's administration use the word unprecedented?

Obama has relied on “unprecedented” in more than 90 instances, using the word at least 129 times in everything from major addresses to small speeches, statements, memorandums and proclamations. (Bush, by contrast, used the word in 262 instances over eight years.)

Andrew Jackson was the first president to use the word “unprecedented” in 1831, according to a search of the archives of The American Presidency Project. For more than 100 years afterwards, presidents only used the word “unprecedented” in 72 speeches and mostly reserved it for major addresses.

And to throw another punch in that really is unrelated to the article but yet segways with the word unprecedented ...

“It comes close to a certain arrogance,” Hughes said, “as if this president has done things that no other president has ever done before – except that they have done them before.”

Obama even treads on unprecedented territory in ways he’s not trying to highlight. At this point in his presidency he’s spent more time on the golf course, for instance, than his immediate predecessor. He’s also attended more fundraisers. And sometimes he surprises people with his use of the characterization, such as in Tokyo last week when he declared himself “America’s first Pacific President.”

The article gives many instances where Obama feels he did something unprecedented but then tells you who did it before Obama did it.

A good article to cheer you up a bit! And I found the link to the article on Yahoo's front page!

Posted by Quality Weenie at November 25, 2009 09:58 AM

And the press is finally taking the 'unprecedented' step of noticing these unprecedented precedents.
*rolls eyeballs*

Posted by: Mrs. Who at November 25, 2009 05:27 PM

It's always been about him and it always will be; it's what he knows.

Sad, isn't it?

Posted by: Pam at November 25, 2009 09:13 PM