ABC News reports that Barack Obama has returned to Washington, only to step off the plane and "into his next domestic crisis." He "planned to leave the details of health care reform to Congress, but today the White House says he'll play a much stronger role." The Associated Press says Obama is "backing away" from his "'it's-all-on-the-table' approach" and is "prepared to get louder and more involved in the details of a health care overhaul." "This weekend," NBC Nightly News explained in its lead story, "the president signaled an aggressive stance to put his personal stamp on the sweeping legislation."
There's only one problem. These stories were all reported nearly three months ago upon Obama's return from his largely failed European mission. And yet, the Wall Street Journal reported Thursday that Obama's planned address to a joint session of Congress next week "will insert the president into the heated debate in a way he has avoided all summer." The Washington Post informed readers that the "White House is scrambling to take control of the health-care debate after watching from the sidelines." A "senior aide" to Obama says the president will be "much more prescriptive."
Why the White House press corps didn't just change the date on their old copy and run it again is beyond me. And I'll leave it to others to ponder the media's seemingly infinite capacity to give Obama as many do-overs as he might need.
Why the Obama administration is determined to do the time warp again is easier to decipher. Obama's advisors think the answer to every problem is more cowbell, if by "cowbell" you mean "Obama." It's like Obama guru David Axelrod is the Christopher Walken character from the "Saturday Night Live" skit about Blue Oyster Cult (if you don't know the reference, Google "cowbell").
Every time someone comes up with an alternative to throwing Obama on TV, Axelrod says, "No, no, no. Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription ... is more Obama!"
But is that really what the doctor ordered?
Obama's address next week will be his third prime-time appeal in three months and the fifth in his 7-month-old presidency. The networks are chagrined about this, not least because the ratings half-life of these events is severe. (Fox's broadcast network beat out the other networks by running "So You Think You Can Dance" instead of his last prime-time press conference.) More relevant, they haven't done Obama much good.