March 26th, 2009
05:01 PM ET
11 years ago

Schneider: Obama as the politician-in-chief


Obama held a town hall meeting in the White House Thursday. (Getty Images)

WASHINGTON (CNN) - The President is not just the commander-in-chief - he's also the politician-in-chief. And lately, we're seeing President Obama more and more in that role.

Two town halls in California last week. This week, a virtual town hall. Appearances on The Tonight Show . . . 60 Minutes . . . ESPN. Two prime-time news conferences.

Then there's door-to-door canvassing by his grass-roots supporters, and a TV ad from his supporters in the Democratic Party that urges Americans to call their members of Congress and tell them to vote for the Obama budget.

Is the President risking overexposure? You hear that criticism in the press. New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote, "Barack Obama is going to be on television every day forever. No venue is too strange."

So far, however, the public doesn't seem to mind. At 63 percent in CNN's poll of polls, the President's job approval is higher than any of his four predecessors after two months in office. After all, the President is spending time with THEM.

Is President Obama violating his promise to change the tone of American politics? Actually, the president's tone has not been particularly harsh or partisan, even when he spoke to two Democratic Party fundraisers Wednesday night - audiences eager for partisan red meat.

"And to a bunch of critics out there, I've already said, show me your budget; show me what you want to do," said Obama.

The President saved his harshest rhetoric for, um, us.

"I know it can be easy, especially in Washington, to get caught up in the day-to-day chatter of cable television, to be distracted by the petty and the trivial and to fall into the trap of keeping score about who's up and who's down," Obama said.

He's leaving the toughest talk to his critics.

"The President's budget will hurt the economy and destroy jobs in our country at the very time that our country needs help, and I think it is completely irresponsible," says House Republican leader John Boehner.

"I want his policies that I believe take us in the wrong direction to fail," adds former senator and Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson.

Meanwhile, just how mild is the president's rhetoric right now? This week, the politician-in-chief endorsed a Democratic candidate in a special election for Congress. But he did not criticize the Republican in that race, praising Democrat Scott Murphy instead.

"Scott has the right experience with a record of creating real, high-paying jobs in Upstate New York. Now, he's ready to go to Washington to continue that work alongside me and Democrats and Republicans in Congress."

Filed under: Bill Schneider
soundoff (93 Responses)
  1. Tom

    So, FDR was "over-exposed" with his fireside chats?

    These events, of the President taking questions from the American People, and providing answers ARE THE GUIDING FOUNDATION OF DEMOCRACY.

    This should be the normal behavior of any president, from any partner, not just Obama.

    March 26, 2009 06:12 pm at 6:12 pm |
  2. Franky

    So what, Democrats could be on T.V, they know what to do. We really, really wish he was just a bit tough, when he was tough on you guys(CNN), we loved it!!! He's literally not your typical type president, he is literally a traditional Democratic nominee and we all know many famous figures have emerged in that role...good or bad, history has shown.

    You know how people were talking about in the campaign that Senator McCain should be more tough on my boy?? And you hardly see my boy flinch at all?? You'll be surprised how this Democrat is very, very different from others in recent past...

    March 26, 2009 06:18 pm at 6:18 pm |
  3. Brianne

    I am so very please that he is out and talking to and with us. America isn't in Washington, D.C., it is in fifty different states with millions of different people that he has to try to talk to where ever they may be (because everyone sure as hell isn't watching CNN all the time).

    And this is not new. Woodrow Wilson did a tour of the country by train trying to sell the League of Nations to the people of America and explaining the benefits and asking them to speak to their Congressmen.

    March 26, 2009 06:19 pm at 6:19 pm |
  4. Ben Mosley

    Pleae tell me why we, The American People, got so involved in this election to see the man that was chosen to hideout in the White House. I wish the MSM would just state that they are bored with covering the President. The man is out there doing the job he was elected to do. As i recall he still has a 64% approval from the American Public (your audience). No one is forcing the MSM to cover the President. You all do so because the american public is listening which requires the MSM to finally do part of their job. PLEASE stop with this hideous "Is the President risking overexposure?" Let the President do his job.

    March 26, 2009 06:22 pm at 6:22 pm |
  5. Paul, Riverside CA

    The only people who feel he will over-expose himself are those who don't care about our current state of affairs. I enjoy seeing my President as much as possible, I am proud of my President and anyone would think otherwise is someone who is NOT American.

    March 26, 2009 06:24 pm at 6:24 pm |
  6. wakeupamerica

    The MSM always has their opinion which differs so dramatically from the public opinion on Main Street. It is quite refreshing to see President Obama doing his job and responding to the inquiries and needs of the American people in an intelligent and thoughtful manner. We've had 8 years of an invisible President in Bush who did nothing to speak to the people. The Web Town Hall was very innovative and inspiring. The media is saying it wasn't "newsworthy"....then get your selves out there and talk to the people who the President reaches, respects and listens too. (I think the media feelings got hurt that he went directly to the people) If President Obama came on tv, web, or any other form of media once a week to talk us through this national crisis, I'd tune in everytime.

    March 26, 2009 06:29 pm at 6:29 pm |
  7. ck

    Can't wait to see him on House Of Payne and Mad TV

    LOL... this president is a joke!

    Wake up people!!!!

    March 26, 2009 06:32 pm at 6:32 pm |
  8. roger dowdle, lockhart, Tx

    Yes, he has had a lot of exposure, but, unlike bush and cheney, he is willing to answer questions and does not require prior preview and approval of those questions. The way I see it, most americans appreciate a leader who speaks honestly and INTELLIGENTLY for a change. As for the criticism that he is trying to do too much at once (Too many things on the agenda, etc.) , Compare it to the average small businessman- they don't get to pay business bills this month, rent next, car payment the following month, etc.

    March 26, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  9. Vickie

    I don't think Obama is risking overexposure to those that understand the urgency of his message – There are many that are closing their minds to what is really happening in our nation – They are truly being blind sided by there own prejudice and narrow minded views – What I mean by that is, so many Americans don't realize that it has come time to rebuild America. Many have manipulated our financial markets leaving us no other choice but to rebuild....

    March 26, 2009 06:37 pm at 6:37 pm |
  10. Rachel

    OMG, he is in love with himself and it IS NOT JUST A SUMMER THING!

    March 26, 2009 06:38 pm at 6:38 pm |
  11. JF

    You know's a different kinda world out there, in case no one's taking notice. We are more connected....more "hands-on", and that includes our governance (or it SHOULD). When I compare the last 8 years (I liken them to the last ICE AGE), and the secrecy and downright SILENCE that comprised that administration, the Obama camp is like a breath of fresh, invigorating air. When was the last time you actually felt like the White House and the Presidency were actually approachable and forthcoming ... Pretty neat concept, dontcha think??

    March 26, 2009 06:48 pm at 6:48 pm |
  12. CNN...more trivial and petty than ever

    So, calling the President names ... "politician in chief" ... is considered professional, relevant, informative journalism? A President who understands, who really gets it, that his job is to make the best decisions for the country, the people he was elected to serve. A President who believes it is important to communicate with his constituents and uses multiple venues to do so to ensure as many as possibly are aware of what he is doing and his reasons behind his proposals/decisions. So CNN, please explain exactly what is wrong with that?

    March 26, 2009 06:51 pm at 6:51 pm |
  13. Meka

    This is GREAT. President Obama, taking America to a HIGHER LEVEL!


    March 26, 2009 06:52 pm at 6:52 pm |
  14. Shirley in California

    I enjoy looking and hearing from OUR president and first family as do many of us. It is such a refreshing change.

    March 26, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  15. Tulsa L

    The only ones accussing him of over exposure is the Republicans.....I think it is great, keeping in touch with the people of this country, this man can multi task OK, he isn't like the last President that could only fuction in low GEAR and do only one thing at a is great to see him get out DC, he is the man that runs this country let him get out and work and talk with the people of this country , cause for sure he can't get the republicans to work with him in DC.

    March 26, 2009 06:55 pm at 6:55 pm |
  16. David P. Kronmiller

    Obama's not delegating – he's actually leading quite nicely. I agree with Tom's comment above that this should be normal behaviour – remember they're supposed to work FOR us. It's nice to be included as a citizen so frequently in the decision making. Of course those who don't like their constituents knowing too much of what they're doing might not be comfortable with this transparency.

    March 26, 2009 06:56 pm at 6:56 pm |
  17. Surge

    I wish the people would stop letting him get away with lies and spin just because they think he's charming. Maybe then he'll focus more on work and less on seaking adulation from all media quarters. Didn't we learn anything from the last eight years?

    March 26, 2009 06:59 pm at 6:59 pm |
  18. YEA BUT!!!

    The President's budget will hurt the economy and destroy jobs in our country at the very time that our country needs help, and I think it is completely irresponsible," says House Republican leader John Boehner.**All talk and no solutions
    I want his policies that I believe take us in the wrong direction to fail," adds former senator and Republican presidential candidate Fred Thompson****.You Failed.... That's why you are @home wagging your tail behind you!!!

    March 26, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  19. Denver Mom

    Keep talking! You're curing my insomnia!

    March 26, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  20. Marie,San Diego


    Love my President!

    March 26, 2009 07:03 pm at 7:03 pm |
  21. J Nixon

    A working president; how novel.

    March 26, 2009 07:04 pm at 7:04 pm |
  22. Patriot Guy

    He is a PERPETUAL CANDIDATE. This is why he is always holding the stupid town hall meetings. It's so much eaiser to read a teleprompter and recite platitudes and marxist dogma than to actually solve problems. It's so much easier to just answer the same question over and over and over again from his whining, sniveling, free-loading supporters. HE'S A CHARLATAN.

    March 26, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  23. Brina

    CNN just love making up their own stories.....stop covering him if you guys are that tired of him...I'M NOT..........he can have online townhalls and the people that are interested can tune in......

    March 26, 2009 07:05 pm at 7:05 pm |
  24. Lynn

    CNN is just ticked off because President Obama goes directly to the people so it is harder for them to chatter on about "the trivial and the petty" and decide who is up and who is down. Listening to the president allows voters to make up their own minds rather than listen to the pablum your pundits and commentators blither on about like the viewers are idiots.

    We can also listen to the whole speech, press conference and town hall meeting rather than how you cherry pick parts and give your spin to it!

    March 26, 2009 07:07 pm at 7:07 pm |
  25. sandy

    No, he's not being overexposed. He is actually being the President of the people. This is some of what he should be doing. Too bad some of the previous Presidents didn't do this. Bush only went to talk to the military because they couldn't boo him. Seeing President Obama do these things is so great. Makes me proud to be an American.

    March 26, 2009 07:08 pm at 7:08 pm |
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