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Obama Dances Around Tea Party Questions In Iowa


During every campaign, often by chance, there is a defining moment where momentum can swing from one side to the other in an instant. Usually in the form of an off the cuff discussion, how a candidate handles himself typically is remembered more so than the issue itself --- for good or ill.
 
While not yet witnessing that moment in this presidential race, it’s fair to say that we just glimpsed a precursor of what’s to come. Not surprisingly, the exchange in question involved a Tea Partier and President Obama.
At a campaign event in Iowa this week, the President was mingling with supporters when several Tea Partiers asked him questions about the lack of civility in politics, especially poignant since Obama has often derided how acrimonious it has become.
 
When asked to comment on the Vice President’s comment describing Tea Party folks as “terrorists,” the President evaded a direct answer, instead stating that that was not what Biden had said or what he meant.  The problem with not answering directly is that it only generates more questions.
 
Several minutes later, the President was asked about possibly inappropriate statements from Homeland Security Director Janet Napolitano about the Tea Party and right-wing extremists, which he also sidestepped. Rather than answering, he brought up Oklahoma City bomber Timothy McVeigh, which had little to do with the subject matter at hand.
 
It’s worth noting that throughout the “discussion,” the President rarely looked the questioners in the eye, preferring to shake hands with other folks and not fully engage the Tea Partiers.
 
As the conversation became more pointed — in large part because the Tea leader (very respectfully) refused to let the President off the hook — Obama trotted out the standard line that his questioners weren’t allowing him to speak, and monopolizing the conversation.
 
Which was simply not accurate.
 
Without question, the President’s close allies have put him in a difficult position, because no matter how much spin is put on the situation, they said inflammatory and inappropriate things about the Tea Party. While natural instinct may be to rally behind and protect one’s friends, honesty would served this President infinitely better. And it could have been done without embarrassing Biden or Napolitano.
 
If he simply admitted that in the heat of the moment, some things were said that should not have been, and apologized for inappropriate statements, he would have been vastly better off. The American people are incredibly understanding, and while they may not necessarily be in agreement with a candidate on all the issues, they nonetheless respect leaders who genuinely admit a wrong and pledge to make it right.
 
But the President didn’t do that.
 
So now the country has been treated to the video of the Commander-in-Chief squirming to get out of a difficult decision, without having the political courage to engage in a straight-talk discussion. Obama performed the Washington Two Step to avoid taking a tough stand — which, ironically, is exactly what most Americans abhor.
 
While certainly far from a show-stopper, if this encounter is any indication of how the President will handle future questioning — let alone respectful confrontations — as the 2012 campaign heats up, he will be in for a very rough road.
In this regard, Mr. Obama would do well to heed two basic Tea Party tenets: honesty and truthfulness.
 
 
 

 
Posted by TPI editor on 8/18/2011 5:00:04 PM
Filed under: iowa, obama, party, tea


 
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