First, there was GOP Congressman Dana Rohrbacher’s assertion that President Obama is a “cream puff.” It’s a nice sound byte, unless you spend a second or two thinking. Along with the rest of the chorus saying “Do something, do anything!”, Rohrbacher seems to forget what happened when the last Decider-in-Chief felt a little impotent and went off half-cocked. Isn’t that really what the “cream puff” dig was about, another veiled shot at the President’s masculinity?
Now, the loons on the right are up in arms about the President taking his daughters for ice cream while Iran suffers violent turmoil. The uproar was so instantaneous and fierce that fellow White House reporter Mark Knoller had this to say only moments after tweeting about the dessert run: (via Twitter)
Surprised by the outrage at the ice cream outing. What is it you expect or want the US to do about Iran? Attack? War?about 23 hours ago from web
No, apparently, they expect him to crush a beer can on his head, hop into his taxicab-yellow Hummer, and start doing threatening donuts on the North Lawn.
Not the only, but surely the best, example of righties trying to score on the Prez for this is Jim Treacher:
Let them eat soft-serve. Confection accomplished. Heck of a glob, Barry. Barack Obama doesn’t care about lactose-intolerant people. “Now watch this drive… to the ice cream shop.”
In all fairness, that pic is from a previous ice-cream run, so his grin may not have been quite as wide yesterday.
To learn more about how our emperor dawdled while Tehran burned, check out Jeff “What enchants you, Mr. President?” Zeleny’s hard-hitting report. And then try to imagine the NYT’s coverage if Bush had pulled a stupid stunt like this on a day like yesterday. Of course, if it’d been Bush, he’d be taking a break from his responsibilities (like supporting democracy), not a break from shirking them.
It isn’t about the ice cream. People need to start realizing that Obama isn’t the President of the United States; the United States is the throne upon which Obama sits.
“How can the President eat ice cream at a time like this,” he typed, occasionally brushing the Cheeto dust off of his keyboard. It is a frivolous observation, one that cheapens the conversation about a deadly serious topic.
There has been a lot to be proud of in the response of ordinary Americans to the unrest in Iran. Most noteworthy is the emergence of Twitter as the best, sometimes only, means of delivering information to, and from, the violently oppressed demonstrators there. In a symbolic gesture of solidarity with those protesters, many tweeps have turned their icons green. Some see this as a hollow gesture, while others see a down-payment on war with Iran, but the move is also symbolic of the frustration that many of us feel. Although helping to shine a light on that which the Iranian government would hide is of great practical import, it is a necessarily passive task.
Beyond this, America is in a much better position to hurt the protesters in Iran than to help them. Press Secretary Robert Gibbs reiterated the need for caution at Friday’s briefing:
(L)et me repeat again, there are people in Iran that would love for us to get involved. There are people in Iran who would love not to make it about one side in Iran versus another, but to make this about Iran versus the West or Iran versus the United States of America.
While there are, as Gibbs says, many on the right who recognize the wisdom of the President’s course, there are others who either see the bloodshed in Iran as a chance to score cheap points against the President, or who feel that “tough talk” is a satisfactory substitute for actually helping the situation. I would place Senator John McCain in a separate category, though, as I believe that his statement about the President’s role was ill-advised, but made in good faith.
At this point, whatever the United States does must be done as part of the broader world community. To do otherwise would place the protesters between us and the government of Iran, not the other way around. The effectiveness, or lack thereof, of the UN is a seperate matter that only adds to the feeling of helplessness and impotence.
There may come a time when more direct US involvement is called for, and I hope that, until then, people like Rohrbacher will try to remember what happens if you expend your ammunition prematurely.