Much of the media and entertainment world spent the last eight years ridiculing President Bush's verbal communication -- Saturday Night Live made up “strategery” to make fun of him -- and lack of reading skills with jokes about Bush reading children's books or his barren library. But Monday night, CBS and NBC used President Barack Obama's first full day of vacation as a pivot to spin his “wee wee'd up” miscue, which certainly would have been widely mocked if uttered by Bush, and supposed summer book reading list -- into admirable positives.
“Mr. Obama,” Couric contended, “has continued a presidential tradition, what Thomas Jefferson called neology, making up a new word or giving new meaning to an old one.” Do you recall anyone in the media ever hailing Bush's “misunderestimated” as advancing “a presidential tradition”? After recalling how President Jackson “popularized the expression 'dead duck'” while Warren Harding came up with “bloviate,” she touted how “President Obama has introduced us to 'wee wee'd up.'”
Meanwhile, NBC's Brian Williams trumpeted how “we also learned the President's reading list.” He proceeded to list the five books the White House said he brought “to read on vacation,” including New York Times columnist Tom Friedman's advocacy of a “green revolution” in Hot, Flat and Crowded. “When you add it all up, that's 2,300 pages of reading,” Williams noted, but “then again, he does have ten days of vacation.”
Audio: MP3 clip (1:02)
From the Monday, August 24 CBS Evening News:
KATIE COURIC: President Obama spent his first full day of vacation on Martha's Vineyard not testing the way the political winds are blowing but testing which way the wind might take his golf ball. Mr. Obama, by the way, has continued a presidential tradition, what Thomas Jefferson called neology, making up a new word or giving new meaning to an old one.
Jackson popularized the expression “dead duck,” using it to describe political rival Henry Clay. For Harding, it was “bloviate.” He both used it and demonstrated it as he talked on and on. Now talking about the fuss over health care reform, President Obama has introduced us to “wee wee'd up.”
PRESIDENT BARACK OBAMA, AUGUST 20: There's something about August going into September where everybody in Washington gets all “wee wee'd up.”
COURIC: Puzzled reporters asked for a definition.
WHITE HOUSE PRESS SECRETARY ROBERT GIBBS, AUGUST 21: I think “wee wee'd up” is when people just get nervous for no particular reason.
COURIC: In other words, they lose control. We'll have to see if “wee wee'd up” makes it into the cultural lexicon or goes the way of Jefferson's “debarrass” which means to un-embarrass yourself, something folks in Washington rarely do.
Couric's the one who should be embarrassed, embarrassed by such a sycophantic approach to Obama.
Brian Williams on the NBC Nightly News:
The Obama family vacation is under way. Today it already featured golf and tennis. And today we also learned the President's reading list. The White House says he brought along the following books to read on vacation: Tom Friedman's Hot, Flat and Crowded, David McCullough's great John Adams, Lush Life by Richard Price. Last two books are Plainsong and The Way Home. When you add it all up, that's 2,300 pages of reading. Then again, he does have ten days of vacation.