More is less … and the robotic repetition of the same is a lot less

Howard Kurtz at the Washington Post comments critically on Obama’s overexposure on the Sunday talk shows.

Also, see in Alessandra Stanley’s TV column at the New York Times the weird photos released by the White House showing Obama giving the identical interview five times over to five different TV hosts in the same room in the White House with the interviewers sitting in the same chair and with the same camera angle.

Here is the Times’ photo montage, made a bit smaller to fit on VFR’s main page:


It’s … Stalinesque?

Below are highlights from Alessandra Stanley’s article (I’ve left out the parts where she goes on at length criticizing Obama for not including Fox in the interviews, which is less interesting to me than the sameness of the interviews that he did give, showing a complete absence of any new or better arguments on behalf of nationalized medicine).

No one shifted an armchair, moved a flower arrangement or asked an unexpected question.

President Obama gave five back-to-back television interviews broadcast on Sunday that were as tightly choreographed—and eerily similar—as the multiple Magritte bowler-hatted men milling in the remake of “The Thomas Crown Affair.”…

But for so well-spoken and confident a president, the lack of spontaneity on Sunday was striking. So was the homogeneity: Mr. Obama appeared on Univision, but he drew the line at Fox….

In each conversation, Mr. Obama proved what most people already know: he is a deft and appealing speaker who can stay on message. But there was nothing in those stagy interviews that shed light on whether his message would take hold. When asked by ABC if a health insurance mandate was the same as a tax increase, the president replied: “What I’ve said is that if you can’t afford health insurance, you certainly shouldn’t be punished for that.”

He added: “For us to say that you’ve got to take a responsibility to get health insurance is absolutely not a tax increase. What it’s saying is that we’re not going to have other people carrying your burdens for you anymore.”…

Mr. Obama did not openly convey any animosity in his Sunday interviews. He was poised, thoughtful and, most of all, consistent, assuring each interviewer, in almost identical phrasing, that he had no immediate plans to send more troops to Afghanistan and that an economic recovery is at hand.

He was just as steady when his five interviewers asked if racism was responsible for some of the fiercer attacks on his presidency. Nipping the hands that he was feeding, Mr. Obama suggested that the news media were fueling the furor.

“I do think part of what’s different today is that the 24-hour news cycle and cable television and blogs and all this, they focus on the most extreme elements on both sides,” he told Mr. Schieffer. “They can’t get enough of conflict. It’s catnip to the media right now.”

He said the same to David Gregory, the host of “Meet The Press” on NBC. “The media loves to have a conversation about race,” Mr. Obama said, adding, “This is catnip to, to the media because it is a running thread in American history that’s very powerful.”

Mostly, however, Mr. Obama demonstrated that the news media are catnip to presidents.

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Leonard D. writes:

” … the robotic repetition of the same … “

I would not use the description “stalinesque” here. Stalin would have never acted in even one improv/play, and certainly not one that boring, much less giving five performances of the same drab pathetic play on the same day. What it is, is “Breznevesque.” (Although I doubt even Breznev would have ever done such a stunt five [!] times, I can see him doing one. At least we’re in the ballpark.) This kind of plodding manufacture of consent is a symptom of decayed government, what Mencius calls the “red-giant state.”

David B. writes:

Regarding your entry about Obama’s overexposure on the Sunday talk shows, this is one of the things that was so annoying about Bill Clinton. There was no escaping him. Clinton was always hectoring the public about something or another. He also started off with “health care.”

It is even worse with Obama as he insists on doing every Sunday network show but Fox. To top it off, our “post-racial President” causes the subject of race to come up with every interview. Wasn’t Obsma’s election supposed to end this issue? Think how tired of him we are going to be by 2012.

I remember watching JFK’s first live TV press conference in January 1961, age 10. This had never been done before and was a big thing at the time. I have read that JFK was concerned about being overexposed on TV and was careful not to appear too often. This was when there were only 3 major networks.

Marco Jawsario writes:

Since the relationship between the Obama Administration and the so-called mainstream press is comparable to that of the Soviet Politburo and Pravda, none of these staged events will be of any use. We can expect more of the same for the next three or seven years, Dios, ayudanos!

I, Marco Jawsario, am so certain that this Presidente has never been and never will be asked a tough question that I will offer any gringo—liberal or conservative—10,000 pesos if he or she can show me one instance in which Obama has been asked a tough question. These so-called reporters are afraid to ask “the question” which may break their “El Salvador.” For example, since everyone wants an honest discussion on race, I would ask El Presidente the following three questions,

Q1. “What exactly did you mean when you referred to your grandmother as a “typical white person?”

Q2. “Given the very high rates of black-on-white crime, do you feel it is justifiable for white people, particularly white women, to fear black men when they encounter them on the street, or when they drive through black neighborhoods?”

Q3. “What was the most outrageous thing you heard Reverend Wright utter about white people? How did you feel about it? Did it cause you to think about leaving the church?

So confident am I that Obama will not be put on the spot, that I am staking the Jawsario Family Fortune.

N. writes:

In recent weeks, we have seen president Obama address a joint session of Congress, give speech after speech, and now he has provided interviews to multiple Sunday TV shows. Yet the poll numbers on the amorphous blob that is “the health care plan” barely budge.

It seems that President Obama believes that he’s just not getting his message out, and will not accept the idea that his message is simply unwanted by a significant portion of the polity. Therefore he redoubles his efforts in the expectation that somehow minds will be changed if he just “gets in our face” enough.

A popular definition of insanity is “Doing the same thing over and over, expecting a different result”. I do not believe that the President has sanity problems, but it appears he does have difficulty with reality.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at September 21, 2009 10:00 AM | Send

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