Roger L. Simon

Public relations nitwits of the Obama Administration

I used to think the Bush Administration was terrible at public relations – and they were – but the Obama Administration is, if anything, even worse. From the terminally charisma-challenged Robert Gibbs as Press Secretary to the loudmouth bullying Rahm Emanuel, this crew makes you cringe. You’d think with the media and Hollywood so heavily behind them, they’d be on easy street. But the healthcare debate has revealed Team Obama to be less ready for prime time than a television used car salesman. They can’t sell us anything and every time they open their mouths, it gets worse. (Come to think of it,that’s an insult to used car salesmen. Cal Worthington was pretty good.)

Of course, this messaging problem all starts at the top and the man who was sold to us – and sold himself as – the second coming of the Great Communicator turns out to be not much of a communicator at all, off teleprompter. Instead he comes off as a self-contradictory bore, one day saying he won’t sign healthcare legislation without a public option and then the next day sorta… kinda… taking it off the table. And then putting it on again. (This is also the way he has treated such foreign policy issues as Iranand Honduras.)

When he tries to analogize for our edification, it gets even worse. Confusion reigns. Caroline Baum writes in a devastating column:

“UPS and FedEx are doing just fine. It’s the Post Office that’s always having problems.” — Barack Obama, Aug. 11, 2009

No institution has been the butt of more government- inefficiency jokes than the U.S. Postal Service. Maybe the Department of Motor Vehicles.

The only way the post office can stay in business is its government subsidy. The USPS lost $2.4 billion in the quarter ended in June and projects a net loss of $7 billion in fiscal 2009, outstanding debt of more than $10 billion and a cash shortfall of $1 billion. It was moved to intensive care — the Government Accountability Office’s list of “high risk” cases – – last month and told to shape up. (It must be the only entity that hasn’t cashed in on TARP!)

That didn’t stop President Barack Obama from holding up the post office[when trying to nationalize healthcare] as an example at a town hall meeting in Portsmouth, New Hampshire, last week.

Confusion, indeed. The problem for Obama is deep and not easily fixable. The hallmark of good public relations is to stay on message. Everyone knows that. But in order to do that you have to have a message. Some people seem to think his message is “socialism.” Maybe some days. I don’t even think he’s that consistent. I think this man is flying blind. Not surprising, really. All he ever did was run for office. No wonder he has had no time to formulate policy.