June 16th, 2010
11:10 AM ET
5 years ago

Borger: Obama, the PowerPoint warrior

Editor's note: Gloria Borger is a senior political analyst for CNN, appearing regularly on CNN's "The Situation Room," "AC360°" and "State of the Union" as well as participating in special event coverage.

Washington (CNN)
- We're not used to seeing President Obama in the Oval Office, and that's for a good reason: He's never spoken to us from there. Yet Tuesday night, he chose to address the nation from behind the desk on the stage that yells a few things before a word is even spoken - importance of topic, urgency of task and, of course, commander in chief.

Trappings in place, Obama did sound like a president waging a fight, using the language of war to talk about the "battle" in the Gulf, one that is "assaulting" citizens; a "siege" for which he has a "battle plan."

But the warrior soon morphed into a company man with a PowerPoint presentation: an authorization to deploy 17,000 National Guard members, 5.5 million feet of boom laid across the water, the building of new islands in the barrier reef, more burning and skimming to collect the errant and ugly oil.

If you wanted to hear inspiration about the cleanup effort, it happened in the last paragraph of the speech when the president invoked the national "strength" and "resilience." But this was about a president asserting control on the ground, not soaring rhetoric.

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Filed under: President Obama
soundoff (37 Responses)
  1. American Patriot - a "real" tea partier

    We don't need rhetoric, soaring or otherwise. We had that with Bush and he was nothing but an empty suit. We have a real president now, one of substance, one who is trying to do the job he was elected to do. I know it's still a strange concept to grasp after 8 years of utter incompetence of the Bush/Cheney regime, but one day, the GOP and the kool-aid drinkers will understand that President Obama is a serious president doing his job.

    June 16, 2010 11:20 am at 11:20 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    This was mostly about a lot of empty promises, from someone whose main attribute, is a good speech.

    June 16, 2010 11:31 am at 11:31 am |
  3. Gina

    I like the presidents strength. I keep hearing the media creating a false story blaming the president for not showing enough emotion.
    What do they want, tears. That won't solve anything. He need to show strengh,and kick BP's butt. Make sure BP clean up there mess and keep the emotional for the 11 men that died out on the rig. I think he is doing a good job. I think BP needs to Be the bad guy here. Focus people.
    This is what regular people in Miami are talking about.
    Gina

    June 16, 2010 11:32 am at 11:32 am |
  4. obama victim

    the obama presidency is over

    June 16, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  5. asserting control on the ground

    some things very right about the president using a power point presentation

    contrast that with Bush who invades first and has NO FOLLOW UP PLAN on how to stabilize Iraq

    gee, is it difficult to see how we got to where we are in Iraq with so many lives lost, an unstable government and a powerful resistance

    give me a thoughtful president over a shoot from the hip president

    June 16, 2010 11:33 am at 11:33 am |
  6. kimberly

    I agree, it was WIERD to see him there, it felt "off", but I liked it, I think it may have reminded some of these over the top kookoos out there, that YES he is THEIR president, and he has done NOTHING that deserves the vile and putrid hate he has been getting from them. Bush was only hated AFTER his war lies and debacle. This hate these people have is disgraceful, and makes America look like red neck fools! BUT again, seeing this man in the Oval Office may have reminded some of them, he IS the President of the United States!

    June 16, 2010 11:34 am at 11:34 am |
  7. Doyle Wiley, MI

    Sometimes people need to hear what they don't want to hear. Because no sooner than this spill is cleaned up people will be yelling "drill baby drill" and "less government regulation"; just as they were doing prior to the spill.

    June 16, 2010 11:38 am at 11:38 am |
  8. Four and The Door

    Still, it is obvious that Obama has gotten caught up in the datails of this event and missed the bigger message. This disaster happened with oil but unlike what the administration apparently believes, this is not just about oil. This is about our country's vulnerability to catastrophic disaster because of ineffective safeguards. The most shocking thing about this disaster is that nobody is prepared to deal with it. In spite of what we thought, there is not an effective response to address the failure of that well.

    The opportunity here is to recognize this wake-up call and review across the board all of those potential disasters that could happen and verify where we are as unprepared. There are plenty of other industrys and activities with potential disasters of this scope. But that's difficult and doesn't help politically. Yeah, leave it to the next administration. That's easier. The prudent political response would be to use this disaster to push an energy policy. Oil is bad. Ignore the bigger message.

    June 16, 2010 11:39 am at 11:39 am |
  9. Dale

    All I heard was blah blah blah

    We want to raise the price of gas to $7.00 per gallon, that will increase our groceries x3, electricity by x3 and everything else that's transported in this nation x3.

    Gore and group should be prosecuted. Talking is not working with these people. A cival war is coming.

    I cannot believe the Fed gov is allowing this situation to get so out of hand. We are done being pushed around.

    If Nov. don't do the trick look for a bankrupted nation and a civil war.

    June 16, 2010 11:42 am at 11:42 am |
  10. Mike

    How vividly I recall Obama supporters pointing out that the 'flawless campaign' was proof of Obama's leadership ability. Wow, how completely and totally deluded were they? There is more leadership skill in a newly graduated 2nd LT from West Point than in the Commander-in-Chief. Very sad for our country.

    June 16, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  11. Ann

    "when I was a candidate for this office."

    Hopefully, this will not happen again, Mr. Speech.

    June 16, 2010 11:43 am at 11:43 am |
  12. rdepontb

    Ms Borger,

    You and too many others seem to have expected the President's remarks to telegraph his intentions for the meeting with BP today. He did not need to embolden them, give them an excuse to go all defensive or to increase the already army-strength lawyering actions of theirs. BP has been taking this nation for a ride, true; let's not blow it now.

    You pundits were too full of disconnected, disembodied advice on what he should say and how he should say it. Anderson was toned down, but not his guests; Keith and Chris went ballistic, making asses of themselves; I hope to catch Wolf today for his always-reasoned calmness which seems to match Mr. Obama's. Interestingly, Morning Joe, and even Bill Kristol at Fox were ok with things, and realizing what a fine line needs to be walked here.

    June 16, 2010 11:46 am at 11:46 am |
  13. w l jones

    Any where in the world when an American speak people listen except here at home something wrong with this picture because our government deliver on what it say God probide our businessman will figure out how to solve any problem put before them. We all should look in our businessmen eyes and say thank you sir for a job well done.

    June 16, 2010 11:47 am at 11:47 am |
  14. PalmReader

    Not to worry, Gloria. In light of this newest catastrophe facing our president, Planet Krypton is Fed Ex-ing a larger than normal shipment of Kryptonite to the White House.

    Once it arrives, Superman Obama ought to get powered up in no time flat . . .

    June 16, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  15. Ros-Indy

    Gloria, while your last statement does echo the need for actions on the ground rather than "soaring rhetoric", I think we must all remember that the President cannot plug the hole up himself.

    Your claim of his 'powerpoint' last night falls short of constructive criticism and instead sounds like mere political banter. Of course, we ALL want this mess to be cleared as quickly and effectively as possible. But to simply suggest that the President's speech served little to no inspiration, only further diminishes the hope of the American people and shifts the focus from the major issue here: employing the right tools and knowledge to seal this thing up!

    Maybe you should write an article on the dismantled lives of the fishermen and local businesses in the Gulf and your commentary may be better received

    June 16, 2010 11:55 am at 11:55 am |
  16. Perry

    Do you people have nothing else to do but tell us how we are supposed to feel about what we just heard with our own ears?

    Gloria Borger, you are the epitome of pettiness if you think a cry for energy independence and a green economy is an "I told you so".

    I was used to listening to the nuts on the Right. They were a minority. But if the Left and Middle have denigrated into this type of pettiness we are doomed.

    June 16, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  17. Eugene Frank MD

    Obama's approach is not original: a little Dutch boy tried that with his little finger in a leaking dyke: Obama is too late, with too little. His lack of perspective, information and details of what was happening, immediately, is the problem that allowed China, Russia, North Korea, Brazil, Turkey and Hamas to out-maneuver him on the world stage. The obviousness of his defensiveness is using theOval Office for a speech that is more form over substance.

    Don't show us you can shoot hoops and work up a sweat: Roosevelt took command from a wheelchair. Don't show us that foreign crowds cheered your way to the Nobel prize, show the American people boldness, decisiveness and command your staff, congress and public agencies to do the job you promised. Don't check pole numbers, check the unemployment numbers.

    June 16, 2010 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  18. FM

    Does Gloria Borger and some Republicans understand that through a catastrophe, there is something good comes out of it? Also that you do not become only a victim, you also learn and do something which improves the entire situation.

    June 16, 2010 11:58 am at 11:58 am |
  19. Jim in Virginia

    This commentary by Gloria Borger is an example of why CNN is losing the battle to attract viewers.She did everything in her power to present a picture of a president in control of a situation while not caring a darn about rhetoric.Please spare me of the affection that you have for Obama.Words that may sound great to the folks in the media don't necessarily translate into the world of average folk that have to endure this kind political nonsense.

    June 16, 2010 12:00 pm at 12:00 pm |
  20. Living in America

    Wow this whole thing is a mess. Folks want to be inspired needs to call Dr. Phil. Go your your boss right now, bang on their desk and tell them that you want them to LEAD you. You will be LED out the door.

    He did what he is supposed to do let the public know what he plans to do what he was doing for over 30 days since he was accused time and time again of doing NOTHING!!!! I would rather for it to be on PowerPoint than to be written on someone's hand. You couldn't say what he is doing or he is even trying to make an effort in the Gulf. But when he does he sounds like a company man.

    I have never seen so many $1.00 and hour political analysts/journalists since Barak became President. Where were you when Bush let the insurance companies get away with not paying the Katrina victims. They commited a crime called theft by taking. The insurance company took their money for services rendered and did nothing. But I bet the top brass got theirs and is still getting it as well. We need to listen to the professional opinions of scientests and oceanographers instead of you guys. You guys better hope that Obama get another term because that way you will have job security.

    June 16, 2010 12:02 pm at 12:02 pm |
  21. Sniffit

    Sorry, but this was 100% fluff. Pointless pseudo-analysis echoing what you think will be points from both sides of the fence in an attempt to superficially appear fair and to be offering insight while carefully avoiding committing to any position of your own or reciting any facts, evidence or thoughts deeper than a muddy gutter puddle. Back to the drawing board for you, Borger.

    June 16, 2010 12:03 pm at 12:03 pm |
  22. al in memphis

    I did not hear his speech, but I think it bad when the president has to spend anytime laying out what has happen behind the scene. There is such a political agenda these days to find that 1 out of 500 item that does not get done and equate that to failure.

    What is really says that there is not reliable source of accurate information that (dare we expect it) "simply inform us". Industry can make all the mistakes they want, but it up to the government to have on staff all the expertise to solve private industry greedy problems.

    Government better start getting ready to deal with that upcoming runaway milk shake machine.

    June 16, 2010 12:04 pm at 12:04 pm |
  23. Pete

    This was all about Obama trying to pass his agenda. Never let a good crisis go to waste.

    June 16, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  24. Wake up America!

    Can cnn spew any more praise on an otherwise inept president? Give us a break... obama is not asserting crap right now! He's using this crisis to pass his freaking agenda and could care less about saving the gulf.

    Wake up CNN! obama sucks as a president, it's okay to start being journalists again, I know your staff wants to...

    June 16, 2010 12:05 pm at 12:05 pm |
  25. Augsbee

    Glad to see I was not the only one who felt I was being reprimanded by our President for our need for oil while at the same time had to listen to his Marketing/Promotional speech on our needing a new energy policy while I waited for him to tell us How, When, Who is going to give the people/families of Louisiana money since they're livelihood is completely gone.

    June 16, 2010 12:10 pm at 12:10 pm |
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