Mr. and Mrs. Cranky Pants
So, it turns out that the cool cat billed as “No Drama Obama” by his sycophants is actually quite the drama queen. While the White House publicly pretends to ignore conservative detractors of his administration, Chief Touchy-Touchy seems to be personally consumed by our critiques. Yes, mine included.
On Wednesday, the president had himself a mini-”Toddlers and Tiaras”-style meltdown with Arizona GOP Gov. Jan Brewer after landing in Phoenix for a post-State of the Union dog-and-pony show. As Brewer told pool reporters on the scene, Obama took umbrage at Brewer’s recent memoir. She minced no words on the cover: “Scorpions for Breakfast: My Fight Against Special Interests, Liberal Media, and Cynical Politicos to Secure America’s Border.”
And she minced no words describing her impressions of Obama as they sparred over her state’s tough immigration enforcement law, which is now the subject of a Justice Department witch-hunt. Brewer called Obama “patronizing” and “condescending.” I’d say she was excruciatingly polite.
According to Brewer, “He was a little disturbed about my book. … I said to him that I have all the respect in the world for the office of the president. The book is what the book is. I asked him if he read the book. He said he read (an) excerpt.” In the shadow of Air Force One, Obama complained that Brewer hadn’t “treated him cordially” and then stalked off while she was responding mid-sentence.
Photogs captured the fracas on film. The civility police gasped at Brewer’s “disrespectful” finger-pointing. On cue, one progressive commentator insinuated the gesture was a “racist” jab tantamount to lynching.
The president was singing a more laid-back tune last summer. As debate on Capitol Hill over the debt ceiling and spending sizzled, Obama bragged to reporters: “I’m not trying to poke at you guys. … I generally don’t watch what is said about me on cable. I generally don’t read what’s said about me even in The Hill (newspaper), so part of this job is having a thick skin and understanding that a lot of this stuff is not personal.”
Uh-huh. At least two other Republican governors — Rick Perry of Texas and Bobby Jindal of Louisiana — have recounted similar presidential snit fits on the tarmac. He sulked over a letter Jindal wrote to the administration about food stamps for Gulf oil spill victims; he bolted after a half-minute meeting with Perry at an Austin airport over border security issues.
You know those “petty grievances” of “Washington politics” that Obama has long condemned? Now it can be told: He knows whereof he squawks.
As New York Times reporter Jodi Kantor’s new book, “The Obamas,” reveals, the president and his inner circle spent even more time carping about conservative influence on public opinion. “He wanted the media to be more of a referee; to put unfair Republican charges to rest,” Kantor discovered. “He could brush off the wildest, most baseless attacks themselves, he told (senior adviser and Chicago pal) Valerie Jarrett, along with (campaign finance bundler and treasurer) Marty Nesbitt and (bundler and finance mogul) John Rogers, at lunch in the little dining room next to the Oval Office.”
But what “galled him,” the book observed, “was when they gained mainstream credibility despite distortions of truth.”
Kantor then dutifully served as a pro-Obama referee:
“Rogers had just noticed a new book by the conservative columnist Michelle Malkin called ‘Culture of Corruption: Obama and His Team of Tax Cheats, Crooks and Cronies.’ Among many other allegations, Malkin wrote that Michelle Obama — the president’s ‘bitter half’ — was secretly running the country in Lady Macbeth-like fashion. Malkin even took a hatchet to long-dead Fraser Robinson (Mrs. Obama’s father), arguing with no evidence that his job at a water plant made him part of the ‘Chicago political corruptocracy.’ The book debuted at number one on The New York Times nonfiction bestseller list and stayed there for weeks.”
The facts? It was a former alderman in Chicago, Leon Depres, who provided evidence that Robinson’s job in the city water department was a reward for loyalty to the Daley political faction.
It was Washington Post writer Liza Mundy who reported that the department was “a renowned repository of patronage jobs.”
It’s the Illinois press that has long documented Mrs. Obama’s ties to the Chicago machine. It’s Kantor herself who spotlighted the first lady’s internecine warfare with her husband’s Cabinet. And from her meddling in everything from the AmeriCorps inspector general firing case to her aggressive, Big Labor-backed push for a publicly subsidized food police corps, Michelle Obama has been openly expanding her East Wing fiefdom in Marie Antoinette-like fashion.
How long before we see a FLOTUS tarmac tantrum? We did get two divas for the price of one. As longtime observers of the royal Obamas have long observed: Mr. and Mrs. Cranky Pants’ problem has never been the color of their skin. It’s the thinness.