One of the more bizarre portions of the Health care summit was when Obama would chastise Republicans for merely spouting “talking points”. He ridiculed Eric Cantor for bringing along the 2400 pages of Health care legislation as “a prop”. Such things were not going to help us do the people’s business, he gravely intoned.
But then Democrats, one by one, would not say much at all. Instead, they used their time to tell sob stories, which of course was not substantive discussion of the issues, but an overly emotional attempt to appeal to the viewers. In other words, they were the most blatant “talking points” of all.
Obama’s habit of deciding what is a serious point and what are mere “talking points,” started out seeming like an attempt at fairness but ultimately revealed itself to be one of the more grating aspects of his personality and his philosophy (It’s worth noting that many points become talking points because they are such good points!). After awhile, it seemed Obama deemed many talking points to be illegitimate simply because they were inconvenient to his argument.
This is not news to certain people who have greater immunity to his charms. Obama has a very thin skin when it comes to disagreement. He has a Fox News obsession. At campaign-style events, Obama has insisted that he doesn’t want to “hear any talk” from the people who “created this mess” or some such. Remember his call for a “new declaration of independence not just in our nation, but in our own lives — from ideology and small thinking, prejudice and bigotry.” Translation: Ideological objections to what I want to do are akin to bigotry and stupidity.
I think one of the great explanations for the mess the Obama administration is in — the whole cowbell dynamic — is that he, his advisers, and many of his fans in the press cannot fully grasp or appreciate the fact that he is not as charming to everyone else as he is to them (or himself). Hence, they think that the more he talks, the more persuasive he will be. Every president faces a similar problem which is why, until Obama, every White House tried to economize the deployment of the president’s political capital. The Obama White House strategy is almost the rhetorical version of its Keynesianism, the more you spend, the bigger the payoff.