Days of Irritation


One of Barack Obama's most appealing qualities is his calm demeanor, which makes him seem thoughtful, reasonable, and disinclined to shoot from the hip. This quality is especially welcome in the wake of incidents such as the attempted sabotage of Northwest Flight 253 or the fizzled Times Square bombing, both because it encourages the public to keep the risk of terrorism in perspective and because it reassures those of us who worry about an overreaction from an administration that fails to do so. But the conventional wisdom in the Washington press corps seems to be that Obama needs to blow his cool to show he cares—really cares—about the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. That advice apparently influenced a statement Obama made on Saturday, when he said the seemingly unstoppable leak is "as enraging as it is heartbreaking." But did he really mean it? At a press briefing on Tuesday, A.P. White House Correspondent Ben Feller was determined to find out:

Feller: The President said when the top kill procedure failed over the weekend that the leak was as enraging as it is heartbreaking.  Have you seen the President enraged about this?

White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs: Throughout this process, absolutely.

Feller: Do you think that that has come through to the American people?

Gibbs: I think the American people are frustrated.  I think the people of the Gulf are frustrated.  I think the President is frustrated. I think the White House is frustrated. I don't see how anybody could look at what's happening in the Gulf and not be frustrated and heartbroken—absolutely.

The briefing then shifted to other topics. Fortunately, Chip Reid of CBS News picked up the ball from Feller, focusing with laser-like precision on the question all Americans are asking: Exactly how pissed off is the president?

Reid: You said earlier that the President is enraged. Is he enraged at BP specifically?

Gibbs: I think he's enraged at the time that it's taken, yes. I think he's been enraged over the course of this, as I've discussed, about the fact that when you're told something is fail-safe and it clearly isn't, that that's the cause for quite a bit of frustration. I think one of the reasons that—which is one of the reasons you heard him discuss the setting up of the oil commission in order to create a regulatory framework that ensures something like this doesn't happen again.

Reid: Frustration and rage are very different emotions, though. I haven't—have we really seen rage from the President on this?  I think most people would say no.

Gibbs: I've seen rage from him, Chip. I have.

Reid: Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do? (Laughter.) 

Gibbs: He said—he has been in a whole bunch of different meetings—clenched jaw—even in the midst of these briefings, saying everything has to be done. I think this was an anecdote shared last week, to plug the damn hole.

Holy crap. Obama clenched his jaw? This must be serious.

To some extent, the bizarre fixation on how angry Obama is and how he expresses it (Does he raise his voice? Does he curse? And if so, does he use the really filthy words that you still can't say on broadcast television before 10 p.m., although they're acceptable on HBO and A&E?) reflects the "cult of the presidency" that Gene Healy decries. New York Times columnist Maureen Dowd, whose infantile expectations of the president Healy has skewered, is one of the pundits who thinks Obama should be more emotional to show that he's engaged. But I'm not sure that demand makes sense even for those who view the president as the literal father of our country. If Obama went on a profanity-laced, LBJ-style tirade, would Feller, Reid, and Dowd be satisfied? Or would they be frightened by the sight of Daddy freaking out?

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  1. You don’t understand. Dowd et al. want this not for their own comfort, but because they think rubes like us need it. So we won’t keep attending tea bag rallies and such.

  2. He’s going to turn green and burst out of his britches anytime now.

    1. Hulk britches never burst. Shirts and shoes burst no britches. britches only tear at calves and turn purple.

      You lie about Hulk’s britches!!

      Hulk Smash!!!

      1. Well at least Hulk only smashes, STEVE might have smashed and raped.

      2. Fresno dan britches burst (in the crotchular region) when Fresno dan get excited at picture neked womans on innertubes

  3. Caption Contest!

    “Is someone frying balogna in here?”

    1. Minotaur image

  4. Is he as enraged with BP as he is about Galarraga’s perfect game?

    If the president doesn’t get that call overturned, then what does he think the presidency is for?

  5. “But the conventional wisdom in the Washington press corps seems to be that Obama needs to blow his cool to show that he cares?really cares?about the BP oil gusher in the Gulf of Mexico. ”

    Actually if he really wants to show he cares he could demonstrate some competence at marshalling our stolen money to productive use. I am not suggesting he “take over” or “direct” the operation but Michael Savage (who I rarely agree with) made a good point the other day. We have a “Coast Guard” do we not? Why not use this Coast Guard to do what the name implies? Guard the effing coast, in this case from oil? Would it stop all of it? Probably not, but it couldn’t hurt. They have a fleet that is large enough to at least help stop some of the oil.

    1. The coast guard Commandant (who can’t be faulted if he on the inside has a little Dante from Clerks thing going on now – he was supposed to retire last month) is right there working hand in hand with the BP executives.

      And the home page image of bp’s website: http://www.bp.com/bodycopyarti…..Id=7052055 has a Coast Guard Lieutenant Commander front and center.

      1. I think what he was saying is that a flotilla of ships should be used to block the flow of oil to the coast.

        1. All 247 coast guard cutters currently in the inventory laid end to end would cover a distance of approx 9 nautical miles.

      2. Where’d they get those snazzy vests? Did they have a box of them sitting around in case of an emergency?

    2. And the coast guard just ordered BP to pay for the construction of 6 barrier islands to do just that, guard the coast from oil


  6. WTF?

    Obama doesn’t seem calm and thoughtful at all. He’s a seether, generally, but effrontery, especially from people who subtly remind him of his mother (Hillary and Palin, most prominently), invariably pisses him off enough to “shoot from the hip” with the petty insults (the famous “enough” and “pig” non-jokes, respectively).

    If his fans want to see him get his wee-wee on at the oil spill, they have to feed him a line that it thinks he ain’t shit. And that it’s a white lady with a bitchy voice.

  7. I hated Bush, but of all the things I blamed him for, there was one thing that never made the list:

    I never blamed him for not “seeming like he cared” after Katrina.

    I fucking hate the media’s obsession with the President “seeming like he cares”.

    On the one hand, the media is conscious and aware of the fact that 90% of what passes for our political life is deliberate staged deception.

    On the other hand, they can’t stop calling for more deliberate staged deception.

    News flash, assholes: if you consciously plan an opportunity for the President to be seen appearing to lose his temper spontaneously, you are what is known as a “lying hobag”. A faker. A poseur.

    I wish people weren’t so fucking stupid that they would fail to understand that you can’t have honest politics while demanding that politicians engage in calculated pretense in order to make TV viewers “feel” like “something is being done” or “a problem is taken seriously”.

    1. “I wish people weren’t so fucking stupid that they would fail to understand that you can’t have honest politics …”

      Your sentence should have ended there.

      1. “I wish people weren’t so fucking stupid.

        The period is bold in case you can’t tell.

    2. I hears ya, Fluffy.

      But, as long as we are talking about appearances, I would agree that “calm and thoughtful” aren’t the words I would choose for his demeanor. “Cold, calculating, and easily provoked”, I think, are a better fit.

      1. “Cold, calculating, and easily provoked”

        Which makes him different from Hillary how, genitally notwithstanding?

    3. I always contrasted Bush in Katrina to what Clinton would have done. Clinton would have been down there jumping into water to save someone in front of the camera. He would have been crying on people’s shoulders about their heartbreak. And it all would have been fake bullshit that didn’t make a dime’s worth of difference. Yet, that is exactly what some people want. I don’t get it.

      1. They want it because they have been allowed to argue that “appearances matter”.

        No. Appearances do not matter. Realities matter. It has to be repeated over and over.

        I think there is also a subconscious belief that leadership itself is always deception – that it’s always stagecraft – particularly when it’s charismatic leadership, which is the only kind these infants understand. “Wah! If our leader cared about us, he’d lie to us more! Wah! We wanna be inspired!”

        1. But nitwits like Dowd who destroyed Bush for not “caring enough” now have a real problem. Obama looks just as detached as Bush. Yeah, it was unfair as hell to Bush. But they either have to admit that and say they were wrong about Bush and Katrina (something they will never do) or go after Obama. It is hilarious to watch them twist in the wind.

          1. Don’t be absurd, John. They’ll have it both ways and will know that their TEAM BLUE fellow travelers will never call them on it.

          2. The difference is that they’re convinced that Bush was a RACIST!!!!!! And Obama is The One.

        2. +1000

          Perception is not ipso facto reality.

          We’re idiots for letting that phrase gain ground.

  8. “One of Barack Obama’s most appealing qualities is his calm demeanor, which makes him seem thoughtful, reasonable, and disinclined to shoot from the hip.”

    Seriously? You buy into the hype? You actually believe that?

    1. I think it just makes him look stoned.

    2. The police acted stupidly.

  9. I’m certainly no Obama fanboy. Didn’t vote for hin, hated the stimulous, the GM and Chrysler bailouts, the toxic sausage called health care reform. I despise having 200K troops in Asia propping up corrupt and incompetent regimes. The list goes on and on.

    His handling the environmental clusterfuck in the gulf has been excellent, I give him at least a B, maybe an A-.

    I don’t need someone who “feels my pain”. I want a president who realizes the limitations of government, who acknowledges that shit does indeed happen and doesn’t overreact when it does.

    He ain’t God. He ain’t even a Zechariah. Get over it you dumbass Obama worshippers. You’re embarrassing yourselves.

    1. There ARE no limitations to government. Get over it.

      1. Yes there are. Government’s cannot make mana rain from the skies. No matter how much legislation they pass demanding that the priests make it happen.

        1. Nor can they properly educate Tony.

      2. Evidently they can neither prevent or fix (at least in a timely fashion) oil leaks. Or as you stated before, keep corporations from contributing to campaigns. Sorry to spoil your worship of teh all powerful gubmint.

    2. He ain’t God.

      For once he recognizes this.

    3. I want a president who realizes the limitations of government, who acknowledges that shit does indeed happen and doesn’t overreact when it does.

      And you think Obama’s response to the oil spill demonstrates that? Don’t confuse a politician who is incompetent with one who believes the government has a limited role.

  10. “LBJ-style tirade”

    Hell, fuck that. I’m expecting Obama to take off one of his shoes and pound it on the podium, Nikita style.

    1. La Femme, or Kruschev?

  11. I find the oil spill story boring, and can’t imagine anyone not directly affected getting “enraged” about it. Has anyone been killed? Why should I even care about this oil spill? It’s like hearing that some people I have never met have been in a fender bender or are getting a divorce; its a misfortune for them, but it’s got nothing to do with me.

    1. Has anyone been killed?

      Yes, actually.

      1. I guess they have become kind of unimportant in all this. More important to discuss whether or not the president is mad enough.

        1. Dead BP workers are unimportant. Politicizing the oil spill is what is important, because politicizing every fucking thing in the world is what has become important to the chattering classes.

          1. If only there was a bisexual transgendered shemale roughneck amongst the wreckage. The media could whip up some frothy tears over that, right? RIGHT?

            1. As long as it can be framed as TEAM RED vs TEAM BLUE, they’ll love it.

    2. I find the story rather boring as well, but not because I don’t care. I just get tired of everyone I talk to going on about it every day and all of the ginned up impotent rage. This is a really big deal in a lot of ways and will take a long long time to get better. I hope whoever is responsible get what they deserve, but I can’t get worked up about it.

  12. If our poor excuse for intelligentsia would focus more on reality, utility, and solving real problems and less on manipulating perception, we’d be a lot more productive and efficient in everything we do. The emphasis on and the applause of the art of bullshitery is a huge flaw in the modern American character. Spin, spin, spin down the commode.

  13. It’s painfully clear to everyone by now that among his other flaws, the President has no experience running anything at all. And it really shows…

    It should also be obvious to everyone now that there isn’t anyone in the Obama Administration with industry experience either.

    In any industry!

    I checked. I looked at the top 30 or so people in his Administration, and I didn’t see anyone–anywhere–who had ANY private industry experience.

    They’re all career bureaucrats and academics–they’ve never had to run anything despite that crazy, wild, unpredictable thing the rest of us call “the real world”. …and it shows.

    1. One of the things that bugs me?

      …if you don’t understand the following–your level of competence will always be limited.

      When you have a problem that needs to be resolved–that absolutely, positively needs to be resolved–you don’t approach it sequentially. Everybody’s first response is to say okay, I’m going to try Solution 1, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try Solution 2, and if that doesn’t work, I’ll try Solution 3, and so on…

      The competent problem solver/leader tries every possible solution at once.

      When I’ve asked people if they got something done, nobody’s ever told me, “Well, I called the guy, and he never called me back.” twice. ’cause I need that done regardless of whether some bonehead calls you back!

      I’ve gone in and camped in people’s offices until they found the time to see me–my investors will never lose a penny because I was too damn lazy to do anything more than leave a voice mail.

      And that’s the kind of response I’m seeing from Obama. I’ve called them, and launched a criminal probe, and threatened them and held press conferences–but that isn’t about solving the problem. That’s about Obama covering his own ass politically.

      I’m still hearing about what BP is or isn’t doing… First they’re trying Solution 1, then they’re trying Solution 2… And that isn’t the way to solve this. You never know which solution is going to be the one that works–so he should be trying all of them at the same time. …even ones that maybe don’t involve BP.

      But Obama still seems to think the problem is public opinion. Like if I’m yelling at you because you didn’t get something done? The problem is that you didn’t get something done.

      …if you don’t understand that, and you think the problem is that I’m yelling at you?

      You’re so fired.

      1. From a general engineering point of view, it is emminently plausible for a problem to be able to be solved by a few different processes, but the the individual processes are mutually exclusive due to resource or physical constraints or both, or that portions of the processes would work at odds with each other.

        1. Just to be clear, it isn’t that I think he should get involved personally in the engineering here.

          But why are we waiting for BP to figure it out?

          Why is Obama’s response limited to “Gee, I hate BP–those guys better figure something out quick!” and finger pointing?

          The correct answer is incompetent management. He may be great at PR, but he’s no manager. He doesn’t know anything about management or, apparently, problem solving. He couldn’t manage his way out of a paper bag.

          This kind of behavior is actually very typical of low level managers who are never going anywhere–when something goes wrong, their first priority is making sure they don’t get the blame, and then they follow procedures to the letter until someone else steps up and does something.

          The idiot masses are about to come to the right conclusion about Obama. He’d make a great spokesperson for some charitable cause somewhere, but no matter where you fall on the political spectrum–he’s just not management material.

          1. Fuck managers. And people with business experience. You want to talk about rewarding incompetence, take a look at practically any workplace.

            I presume you have a better way to handle this situation? It is just a fact that BP has more technical capability than the US government to deal with this problem–a problem that unfortunately hadn’t been adequately planned for. Blame government and BP all you want–but I fail to see how Obama’s doing anything wrong leadership-wise, or what your alternative is, besides bitching for its own sake.

            1. And I can only imagine what a libertarian society would reward in the workplace. I imagine cleavage would have more influence on promotions than competence.

              1. Usually this kind of thing isn’t worth responding to…

                No management experience in private industry–from more than 30-40 of the top people in the Obama Administration?! That’s as it should be? Management skills are of no value? That’s ridiculous…

                But I did want to point out that for me personally? I’ve had a paying job since I was 14. I’ve worked bailing hay and cleaning out chicken coops on local farms. I’ve worked as a construction laborer alongside illegal aliens. I’ve worked in the HIM department of a small private hospital on the edge of South Central Los Angeles. I was a number-cruncher at a commercial real estate investment company, a quality control analyst at a company that made financial software for hospitals.

                I work for myself now. But of all the other people I worked for? None of them ever treated me as badly or took me for granted like the government does. I’ve worked with government employees, and I would never subject myself as a government employee to government trained management.

                That should be cruel and unusual punishment.

      2. I absolutely agree with this. There’s no reason to have waited to see if top kill worked before detonating a nuclear device.

        1. I wasn’t saying he should necessarily get involved in the engineering or that he should do every possible solution including nuke the site ’cause it’s the only way to be sure.

          But why wait for BP to figure it out? Why isn’t this a Coast Guard, Army Corp/Lots of other oil companies/whoever else has an idea operation already?

          Why are we still waiting for BP to figure it out?

          It’s like Obama’s an ER doctor, someone comes in with a bullet wound, and all he wants to do is talk to the victim’s family about how the shooter should have to pay for the funeral.

          I appreciate that BP’s gonna have to pay for the clean up, Mr. Obama, in the meantime, I’m no ER doctor, but shouldn’t we try to do something about that bullet wound?!

          1. Do you really think that FEMA or the Coast Guard or any other government agengy has more insight, expertise, resources and equipment to handle problems with an oil spill than BP does? Granted BP isn’t really cutting mustard at this point, but there should be no real question as to who is more qualified to handle the spill. Unless the government is actively hiding away engineers and scientists who specialize in deep water oil well malfunctions while deferring to BP, that is.

            1. “Do you really think that FEMA or the Coast Guard or any other government agengy has more insight, expertise, resources and equipment to handle problems with an oil spill than BP does?”

              I don’t know.

              And I’m usually the last guy to mistake activity for achievement.

              But I know that in the absence of any activity, there probably won’t be a lot of achievement either. And right now, I’m not seeing much activity.

              I’m seeing press conferences. But that isn’t even activity! That’s just bullshit. And I haven’t seen any activity from the president for more than month, and although that’s a different kind of bullshit–that’s bullshit too!

      3. So if you face a stuck door, you simultaneously pick the lock, use a battering ram, grab a crowbar and blow the door open with high explosives?

        1. I think this obstacle is a little more difficult than that.

          But if I can’t get a project financed because there’s a flood way on it?

          1) I go to the land seller and try to negotiate the price down for the impacted land.

          2) I meet with a hydrology consultant to find out the plausibility of getting the map changed a FEMA.

          3) I challenge the map at the County.

          4) I go the city and ask to renegotiate other fees to offset the cost of the unusable land.

          5) Get the Army Corp to process a flood map change through FEMA.



          And I do them all at the same time.

          Only one of them has to work–and you never know which one it’s going to be. But when one of them has to work, and time is increasing the damage or killing the prospects for success? If you don’t try Solution 2 until Solution 1 has failed? You may never get to Solution 6–the one that worked.

          …or worse–you put the solution off so long that the damage just becomes horrendous. And that’s what we’re seeing right now. And every good manager in the country is shaking their head watching this…

          It isn’t just that he doesn’t know what he’s doing. It’s that he doesn’t know how to manage anything except public relations.

  14. “I call upon all everybody to do everything they can to stop this oil leak. Thank you. Now watch this drive.”

  15. you’re told something is fail-safe and it clearly isn’t, that that’s the cause for quite a bit of frustration

    It should be cause to question someone’s ability to grasp reality. Riskless behavior? Fail-safe technology? Child, please.

    1. There is such a thing as fail safe technology actually. Except fail safe in this sense means that when failure occurs the harm is minimized. For example, a door with a fail safe lock will not swing open if the lock fails. The door is still unlocked, but someone walking by would not know that simply from looking. It does not mean that something will not fail ever. This is a popular misconception.

  16. Whether or not Obama gets on TV and slams the desk several times with his fist to show that he’s “really really mad” this time or if he simply continues to play more golf and ignore the press more than any president in recent memory, all that matters are results.

    The BP gusher is nowhere near being extinguished, and by all reasonable accounts there appears to be a consistent failure of leadership to make hard choices involving the usage of both private and government forces to address the issue. Unsurprisingly, government bureaucracy is not well designed to move quickly to address these kinds of issues like the current oil spill, and since every hour that is wasted another several thousand of gallons of oil spills in to the gulf the deficiencies are exponentially magnified.

    I don’t care if he stand on his head on national television, or if he gets in a damn submersible himself to plug the leak, the bottom line is that it isn’t fixed yet and and until it is, “the buck will stop with him”.

    1. That would be so awesome if he manned up and took a submersible down to fix the leak himself. Not that he could or would even likely survive the attempt, but that would be a TR-like move. Entertaining, even if totally against my political grain.

      1. If you don’t think that Cameron proposed this when he met with the presidents advisers you are a crazy person.

        I would bet dollars to donuts he already had a rough script ready to film to show Obama’s nerves of steel as he gracefully operated the diamond cross cut laser saw used to sever the broken pipe. But then -oh noes! The submersible breaks a pressure tank and Obama is forced to risk everything by putting on a pressure suit so he can stay down with the ship to make sure the last bolt can be turned to shut off the leak for good!

        All this as a major love triangle develops between Michelle, Obama and the scruffy ex-admiral Denzel Washington who was Michelle’s high school sweetheart, but has since grown cold through years of patrolling to Suez canal……….

        You’re welcome.

        1. That’s exactly the way I think it happened. Or will happen. Whichever works.

    2. That is the thing. There is, in all probability, nothing that Obama could possibly do to speed up fixing the leak.

      Anyone who thinks throwing a temper tantrum on national TV is going to speed up the process is insane, and an idiot.

      Unless, of course, you want to consider the “nuclear option”.

  17. If Obama went on a profanity-laced, LBJ-style tirade, would Feller, Reid, and Dowd be satisfied? Or would they be frightened by the sight of Daddy freaking out?

    Being racists, they are waiting for the “natural” reaction of a black man, not the considered and controlled reaction of a career politician.

    1. Interesting point. That explains the anticipated opening of a 50 gal barrel of whupass.

    2. I don’t think it’s racism. It’s the natural tendancy of leftists to want to see their enemies up against the wall.

      They see Obama, they see the “strong man” leader of a revolution.

      They see BP, they see “hatet capitalist exploiters of the working class”.

      They expect Obama to behave like Hugo Chavez.

      1. If only we were to nationalize the oil industry. Then these problems wouldn’t happen.

        1. Robert B. Reich has already suggested this.

          1. One hears such ideas, and what can one say but… “Reich.”

        2. LOL! Yeah, just like how the government is in charge of NASA, and we know that they never have accidents.

          1. Or swine flu
            Or the protection of giant office buidlings after an attempt in 1990 by an organization that declared was on us.
            Or manageing the economy
            Or…(can you read for infinity???)

    3. My favorite liberal douche weighs in…Billy Maher is such an iconoclast.


  18. Is the president enraged enough to return BP’s campaign donations?

    1. Excellent question. I wish someone in the MSM would ask this! Or if he’ll turn them down in the future.

  19. You can’t just have your characters say how they feel. That makes me angry!

  20. My only hope is that he gets mad enough to nuke it.

  21. The oil blow out is all about a Chicago connected company, NALCO, getting rich selling the dispersant.


  22. This is a learning/teaching moment. There will be afterward.

    1. Oh god. I forgot the beer.

  23. I don’t see how anybody could look at what’s happening in the Gulf and not be frustrated and heartbroken?absolutely.

    I’m frustrated. I’m frustrated that at dinner last night I had to sit and listen to my uncle (who is not an engineer or any such thing) talk about this thing for almost an hour as if he knows everything about it, talking about how stupid BP and all their solutions have been, yet making no brilliant suggestions of his own.

    Other than that, I don’t have much emotional reaction to this situation. It’ll get sorted out eventually. Or it won’t, and life will-somehow-go on.

  24. Despite that whole revolution thing a couple centuries back, this obsession over presidential demeanor demonstrates that many Americans still have a residual desire for monarchy.

  25. To me that just reaffirms that the news (MSM)is just pure entertainment. Let’s have some emotion to goose ratings!!!
    Serious discussion of the pros and cons of off shore drilling? Boring!!!!
    Pointing out that the consumers out there need to get their gasoline from there or Saudi Arabia – never point out the hypocrisy of the consuming unit!!!!
    Feel good outrage at somebody else – perfect!!!!!!

  26. “Frustration and rage are very different emotions,…”

    Frustration and rage are what happens when a six year old is told that dinner is pot roast and broccoli instead of pizza. It is not an attractive emotion set in an adult, particularly a leader as it shows impotence. Why the media wants to see such in the President or why the White House would admit to such baffles me.

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