Alter, appearing Wednesday on MSNBC’s “The Daily Rundown,” called the BP oil spill crisis “the perfect metaphor” for Obama’s presidency so far. “It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors,” he stated.
Alter added that Obama is trying to stop an economic depression “that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch.”
“It is a distraction from Obama’s own agenda,” Alter added about the oil spill, “and in that sense, it irritates him.”
Not to be outdone, MSNBC anchor Savannah Guthrie chimed in, affirming that the word of the day was “frustration.”
“You mentioned frustration, and that’s really the word,” Guthrie opined. “Because you do get the feeling that the President, and certainly his lieutenants over there at the White House, really resent this Washington game that requires the President to emote for public consumption.”
As Newsbusters reported Tuesday, Alter has sounded the same criticisms on other cable networks. Appearing on Comedy Central’s The Colbert Report Monday, he claimed that Obama had to run “the shovel brigade” at the beginning of his presidential term.
“A shovel brigade,” he eloquently explained, “you know, the guys who sweep up after the elephants when the elephants leave their (expletive) all over the circus, right?”
As a guest on the Joy Behar Show on HLN that same night, Alter said that Obama is “frustrated,” and is “cleaning up Bush’s messes,” namely Wall Street, the war in Afghanistan, the auto industry mess, and now the BP oil spill crisis.
Describing his encounters with President Obama and his Cabinet inside the White House during his first term, Alter said that “we were all living history. This man prevented another Great Depression.”
The transcript of the June 9 segment of The Daily Rundown, which aired at 9:39am EDT, is as follows:
CHUCK TODD: You know, watching him deal with a crisis–this is the first big test–what did you learn about him in year one that you sit there and say, ‘Boy, the lesson he learned from this he’s applying to the oil spill’?
JOHNATHAN ALTER, NEWSWEEK: Well first of all, the oil spill is the perfect metaphor for Obama’s presidency so far. It’s been cleaning up a lot of the messes left to him by his predecessors, whether it was bank bailouts, auto bailouts, Afghanistan–which turned out to be a much bigger mess than anybody anticipated–preventing a depression that, you know, began to happen on George Bush’s watch.
So this is more of the same, and I think they put it in that category, and in that sense, even though they’ve been much more focused on it from the beginning than I think a lot of the public realizes, it is a distraction from Obama’s own agenda–things like health care, education, that he wants to do that are not so-called ‘legacy issues’ for him. And in that sense, it irritates him. You know, you know that he–he’s very disciplined, very focused, does his homework, is on the case, but it’s not what he wants to be dealing with. And I think it’s part of the reality of being president is that you have to deal with the cards that you’re dealt. And that frustrates him.
And then I think the other big problem for him in this is that he’s terrific behind closed doors–that’s what I try to do in The Promise, is I try to take you into what he’s like behind closed doors–at stripping out emotion from any of his calculations, right? And that gives him a higher batting average on decisions, if you make them rationally. But he fails to put emotion back into the equation for the public parts of his job. And that’s where he’s struggling on this oil spill.
SAVANNAH GUTHRIE: You mentioned frustration, and that’s really the word. Because you do get the feeling that the President, and certainly his lieutenants over there at the White House, really resent this Washington game that requires the president to emote for public consumption. I mean, they really resent everything about Washington that’s expected of them. Just the way the President hates the idea of having to do a sound byte.