Out on a Limb

Daily Best of the Web   —   Posted on November 29, 2010

The following is an excerpt from OpinionJournal.com’s “Best of the Web” written by the editor, James Taranto.

NOTE: The excerpts below are from the Nov. 24 BOTW Archives.

Out on a Limb
“Deliberate or Accidental, a New Korean War Would Be Devastating”–headline, PoliticsDaily.com, Nov. 23

My Fellow Americans–Oh, Look! A Squirrel!
“Real life has a way of intruding on Barack Obama’s presidency,” a New York Times blogger observes in a post on the latest Transportation Security Administration kerfuffle titled “Pat-Downs Ensnare White House in New Distraction”:

It all felt vaguely familiar. Mr. Obama has repeatedly found himself off message and embroiled in events that quickly capture the imagination of the public, the news media and his adversaries.

Early in his presidency, Mr. Obama was caught up in the whirlwind surrounding the arrest of an African-American professor in Cambridge after he said the officer in the case had “acted stupidly.” The media frenzy didn’t end until the three men shared a beer at the White House.

There was the flap over the mosque to be built near ground zero in New York, which for a time became the primary focus of attention in the White House briefing room. Mr. Obama contributed to the spirited public debate by weighing in on the subject during an iftar dinner at the White House.

The oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico strained the physical resources of the federal government as containment efforts failed for months. But the issue became political and strained the communication resources of the White House, which was repeatedly diverted from focusing on the economy to explain the government’s actions.

In July, the odd case of Shirley Sherrod, the agriculture department employee who was fired, again pulled Mr. Obama into a sideshow about race and politics. In September, a Florida pastor threatened to burn a Koran, once again pulling the White House into a national conversation.

As Tom Blumer of NewsBusters.org notes, Obama was scarcely “caught up” or “embroiled” in the Skip Gates “whirlwind” or the Ground Zero mosque “flap.” He needlessly inserted himself into both. The problems attendant to the Shirley Sherrod “sideshow” and the oil spill response were both the result of decisions made by Obama administration officials, We suppose the threatened Koran-burning was a genuine distraction–but it likely wouldn’t have amounted to anything if the president had resisted the urge to speak out on behalf of the Ground Zero mosque provocateurs.

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