Martha Joynt Kumar, a scholar of presidential communications strategies at Towson University, reports that President Obama is almost everywhere in the media. In their first four months, Bill Clinton gave 11 interviews, and George W. Bush gave 18, compared with 43 from Obama. He has offered his eloquence to ABC News at least six times, seven times on CBS and nine times on NBC.
That large number doesn't count his latest TV interview blitz, or the four prime-time press conferences. But all this access to the media -- based on the strategy that Obama's charisma can overcome all objections to his policy nostrums -- isn't stopping the collapse of his attempts to rush the country into massive new spending and regulation schemes.
The public is getting bored. About 24.7 million viewers tuned in to Obama's latest TV show last week, according to Nielsen ratings, some four million fewer than watched his last evening news conference in April, and only half the number that saw his first one in February. The media are getting bored, too. Their decision to play up Obama's thuggish attack on the city cops in Cambridge, Mass., demonstrated Obama was losing control of the political narrative on the health-care front.
That didn't mean that reporters weren't trying to break news, but in the face of serious questions, Obama stonewalled. ABC's Jake Tapper asked point-blank whether the American people are "going to have to give anything up" in taxes or health-care limitations. Obama rambled strangely about an imagined scenario where a patient would supposedly see three specialists to get the same exact test, and the patient, the doctors and the insurance companies are all too dumb to realize this is unnecessary and wasteful, and they need the federal government to break this fabled logjam of cluelessness.
CBS's Chip Reid asked it another way: "You talk about cuts in Medicare, and they talk about cuts in Medicare, but there are never many specifics. Specifically, what kind of pain, what kind of sacrifice are you calling on beneficiaries to make?" Obama objected: "No, no." Reid inexplicably changed the subject and allowed Obama to skip over the sacrifice.
Again and again in the Bush years, the media insisted that Bush never asked the American people to sacrifice. But when reporters put the sacrifice question to Obama on health-care rationing or Medicare cuts, he isn't answering the question. Liberal reporters and pundits weren't outraged in the aftermath that he wasn't brave enough or honest enough to call for sacrifice.