Defining Moments

 

It’s as if President Obama climbed into a tank, put on his helmet, talked about how his foray into Cambodia was seared in his memory, looked at his watch, misspelled “potato” and pardoned Richard Nixon all in the same day. It’s fun to imagine the hand-wringing that must be going on within the White House as staffers try to figure out how to undo the damage their boss has done with his anti-entrepenurial riff. Defining moments in politics are strange beasts. Sometimes they’re only recognized in hindsight, while sometimes they throw the train off the tracks before a sentence has been completed. Sometimes their effect can be contained and minimized, while sometimes their effect on the political narrative mestastasizes. This one is very bad for the White House.

These defining moments take hold most devastatingly when they confirm what a large portion of the electorate already believes. Taken alone, it seems unfair that a single moment, an unguarded remark or a slip of the tongue can carry such weight. They’re often dismissed as “gotcha” moments, but when voters are able to nod and say, “I knew it,” these moments stick and do terrible damage. We have witnessed such a moment. 

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Members have made 49 comments.

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  1. Profile photo of Bluenoser Inactive

    What will be truly telling, is when a vulnerable Democratic Senator facing a tough reelection challenge, not just distances himself, but actually denounces the President of this. 

    • #1
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:34 am
  2. Profile photo of DrewInWisconsin Member
    Pat Sajak:

    . . . how to undue the damage . . .

    Pat bought too many vowels.

    (Sorry! Sorry! It was there! Low-hanging fruit! I’m duly ashamed of myself.)

    • #2
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:41 am
  3. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member

    This “gotcha” moment is actually a moment when, as P. G. Wodehouse often said, the “scales fell from our eyes.”

    We’re seeing the real Obama–he doesn’t understand business, but he still hates it, passionately.

    The a lot of scrambling going on in Chicago.

    • #3
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:44 am
  4. Profile photo of Fake John/Jane Galt Thatcher

    President Obama’s problem is that he promised “Hope and Change”, but now the people have seen some of the “Change” they are starting to lose “Hope”. 

    • #4
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:45 am
  5. Profile photo of EJHill Member

    Pat, you missed the one Presidential gaffe that this is really analogous to: Jimmy Carter’s “Amy is my nuclear deterrent adviser. ”

    • #5
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:46 am
  6. Profile photo of Patrickb63 Member

    Pat- (great name by the way) I sure do hope you’re right. This President is a slow poison and we need to get him out of office before the damage is irreversible. But there are days I despair of this happening.

    • #6
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:47 am
  7. Profile photo of Pat Sajak Contributor
    Pat Sajak Post author
    DrewInWisconsin
    Pat Sajak:

    . . . how to undue the damage . . .

    Pat bought too many vowels.

    (Sorry! Sorry! It was there! Low-hanging fruit! I’m duly ashamed of myself.) · 6 minutes ago

    No apology necessary. Change has been made. Ironic, isn’t it? My own “gotcha” moment!

    • #7
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:49 am
  8. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    Pat Sajak
    DrewInWisconsin
    Pat Sajak:

    . . . how to undue the damage . . .

    Pat bought too many vowels.

    (Sorry! Sorry! It was there! Low-hanging fruit! I’m duly ashamed of myself.) · 6 minutes ago

    No apology necessary. Change has been made. Ironic, isn’t it? My own “gotcha” moment! · 1 minute ago

    It’s not like you came out in favor the American Nazi Party or the like. It’s why the Good Lord created the edit button.

    • #8
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:54 am
  9. Profile photo of KC Mulville Member

    Agreed.

    James Taranto of the WSJ discussed Obama’s gaffe in his Best of the Web yesterday. The White House defenders are claiming that the quote was taken out of context. They’re claiming that when Obama said “you didn’t build that,” the [that] wasn’t referring to the business that entrepreneurs built, but the roads and bridges.

    To which I (along with others) reply: so what? The antecedent of that reference may be misplaced, but it hardly contradicts the meaning of Obama’s argument. Obama isn’t just tossing out random observations; he’s employing political rhetoric in favor of higher taxes, on the grounds that entrepreneurs owe more money to government, because the government provides public goods.

    The fact that entrepreneurs already pay the highest tax rate in the world contradicts the notions that they aren’t paying their fair share. The Left bases their calculation of “what’s fair” on how much debt they’ve racked up. We’re in the hole because they’ve spent what we’ve already gave them, not because what we gave them wasn’t enough.

    • #9
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:54 am
  10. Profile photo of Rudolf Halbensinn Member

    Very true. A defining moment, I’m sure. Make it a national holiday too.

    Two years from now the books about Obama, the Ex-Pres, will start to appear and I’ll bet that the second week in July will be the Waterloo point in all of their analyses.

    Book excerpt from July 2014 :

    “After a series of stumbles there suddenly came the Supreme Court decision and Obama seemed to rise from the ashes and his previous errors all drifted away. Then came July and his un-teleprompted remark about ‘not doing it yourself’ cooked his goose but good. 

    “A year later in his Kenyan mountain retreat he was heard to mutter, ‘Joe Biden did it to me.'”

    • #10
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:55 am
  11. Profile photo of tabula rasa Member
    KC Mulville: Agreed.

    James Taranto of the WSJ discussed Obama’s gaffe in his Best of the Web yesterday. The White House defenders are claiming that the quote was taken out of context. They’re claiming that when Obama said “you didn’t build that,” the [that] wasn’t referring to the business that entrepreneurs built, but the roads and bridges.

    To which I (along with others) reply: so what? The antecedent of that reference may be misplaced, but it hardly contradicts the meaning of Obama’s argument. Obama isn’t just tossing out random observations; he’s employing political rhetoric in favor of higher taxes, on the grounds that entrepreneurs owe more money to government, because the government provides public goods.

    The fact that entrepreneurs already pay the highest tax rate in the world contradicts the notions that they aren’t paying their fair share. The Left bases their calculation of “what’s fair” on how much debt they’ve racked up. We’re in the hole because they’ve spent what we’ve already gave them, not because what we gave them wasn’t enough. · 1 minute ago

    What KC said. Beautiful argument.

    • #11
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:56 am
  12. Profile photo of EJHill Member
    KC Mulville: They’re claiming that when Obama said “you didn’t build that,” the [that] wasn’t referring to the business that entrepreneurs built, but the roads and bridges.

    Then wouldn’t he have said the plural “those” instead of the singular “that?” No. He stepped in “that.”

    • #12
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:58 am
  13. Profile photo of Brasidas Inactive
    Pat Sajak: They’re often dismissed as “gotcha” moments, but when voters are able to nod and say, “I knew it,” these moments stick and do terrible damage. 

    Yes, this is one of those moments where we’re shocked by something we already knew.

    • #13
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:59 am
  14. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    I thought a gotcha moment was when somebody asked a question to set you up to look bad e.g. “have you stopped beating your wife yet?” type quesiton. Nobody was asking Obama anything, that was him unfiltered without benefit of a teleprompter.

    Looking at his campaign staff it is doubtful there is much hand wringing going on. I imagine there is more conversations like ‘yeah, that’s right, what’s the big deal?’.

    • #14
    • July 19, 2012 at 8:59 am
  15. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge
    KC Mulville: 

    To which I (along with others) reply: so what? The antecedent of that reference may be misplaced, but it hardly contradicts the meaning of Obama’s argument.· 9 minutes ago

    Exactly. Not much changes when you put “you didn’t build that” in the context of the rest of what he was saying, which consisted of (and I paraphrase), “You think you succeeded because you’re smart? Lots of people are smart. You think you succeeded because you worked hard? Lots of people work hard.” His basic point is that individuals owe their success to the government.

    • #15
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:08 am
  16. Profile photo of Albert Arthur Coolidge
    BrentB67: I imagine there is more conversations like ‘yeah, that’s right, what’s the big deal?’. · 9 minutes ago

    That’s Elizabeth Warren’s reaction.

    • #16
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:09 am
  17. Profile photo of KC Mulville Member
    EJHill

    Then wouldn’t he have said the plural “those” instead of the singular “that?” No. He stepped in “that.”

    I also happened to read in the HuffPost that the Obama Team is considering a demotion for the teleprompter. 

    But as the Washington Examiner reported:

    Judging from video and photos of the event, Obama wasn’t using his teleprompter. According to the video footage posted below, Obama pulled a folded sheet of paper out of his front shirt pocket at the beginning of his speech, and slowly unfolded it. […]

    According to a senior administration official, who spoke to the Hill, the missing teleprompters at recent campaign events are part of a strategy that is “less to do with image and more to do with upping the tempo” at campaign events, creating more unscripted moments.

    He’s off his meds … I mean, teleprompter.

    I’m sorry, but the idea of Axelrod and his crew furrowing their brow because the Smartest Human Ever can’t survive without a teleprompter … and Jay Carney saying that his Jobs Council hasn’t met with Obama because Obama has a full plate …

    Are we on Candid Camera?

    • #17
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:25 am
  18. Profile photo of with me where I am Inactive
    EJHill: Pat, you missed the one Presidential gaffe that this is really analogous to: Jimmy Carter’s “Amy is my nuclear deterrent adviser. ” · 31 minutes ago

    EJ, when I search for your Carter quote, all I find is your post. Please provide background. I know a joke that has to be explained isn’t funny, but this sounds interesting.

    • #18
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:26 am
  19. Profile photo of with me where I am Inactive

    KC Mulville : Are we on Candid Camera?

    No, but I think we got a peek behind the curtain.

    • #19
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:35 am
  20. Profile photo of Paul Erickson Member
    KC Mulville: Agreed.

     The Left bases their calculation of “what’s fair” on how much debt they’ve racked up. . · 46 minutes ago

    KC – Never thought of it quite that way. Well said!

    • #20
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:45 am
  21. Profile photo of Johnny Dubya Member
    KC Mulville: Agreed.

    James Taranto of the WSJ discussed Obama’s gaffe in his Best of the Web yesterday. The White House defenders are claiming that the quote was taken out of context. They’re claiming that when Obama said “you didn’t build that,” the [that] wasn’t referring to the business that entrepreneurs built, but the roads and bridges.

    To which I (along with others) reply: so what? The antecedent of that reference may be misplaced, but it hardly contradicts the meaning of Obama’s argument. · 35 minutes ago

    Indeed, even a charitable reading of the quote (which requires believing that the president made a grammatical error–using “that”, rather than “those”, when referring to roads and bridges) shows disdain for the contributions of businesses to the tax base that supports infrastructure. 

    Furthermore, the part of the quote where he says the following is disturbing (I’m paraphrasing): Hey, you think you’re successful because you’re so smart and you work so hard? Well, there are a lot of smart and hardworking people out there. He seems to be saying that success depends mostly on luck. Such a view makes it easier to shake down the “lucky”.

    • #21
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:46 am
  22. Profile photo of Pious Agnostic Member

    Part of the American Dream is a reliance, not on roads and bridges and other such physical infrastructure, but upon a consistent and equitable legal infrastructure that treats all fairly and upon which people can rely.

    Had Obama spoken of the fruits of government in providing a stable regulatory environment, with respect for private property and predictable law enforcement, there would be few who quibbled. Of course, he cannot speak of such fruits, as his Administration has not provided any.

    • #22
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:47 am
  23. Profile photo of Richard Russell Member

    That post you wrote – you didn’t write that.

    • #23
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:48 am
  24. Profile photo of Amy Schley Member
    Kevin Walker

    Furthermore, the part of the quote where he says the following is disturbing (I’m paraphrasing): Hey, you think you’re successful because you’re so smart and you work so hard? Well, there are a lot of smart and hardworking people out there. He seems to be saying that success depends mostly on luck. Such a view makes it easier to shake down the “lucky”. · 2 minutes ago

    In fairness to the President (and Lord knows I don’t like to be) success doesn’t come from being smart or hard-working. His inference that success comes from luck is still wrong, but he’s right that brains and effort don’t equal success.

    Success comes from creating value. You can be the smartest person alive and work a hundred hours a week, but if you aren’t producing a product or rendering a service for which people are willing to pay, you will remain unsuccessful.

    • #25
    • July 19, 2012 at 9:55 am
  25. Profile photo of flownover Inactive

    “this was the moment when the rise of the oceans began to slow and our planet began to heal; this was the moment when we ended a war and secured our nation and restored our image”

    What a difference a day makes !!

    Yeah Roanoke ! That was the moment when the rise of the Obama began to slow and our media began to squeal.

    obama-finger.jpg

    Not so fast there !

    • #26
    • July 19, 2012 at 10:02 am
  26. Profile photo of Sisyphus Member

    The smartest president since Benjamin Franklin!

    • #27
    • July 19, 2012 at 10:05 am
  27. Profile photo of Redneck Desi Inactive

    What is more likely – Axelrod shaving his moustache or Obama speaking off-teleprompter again. Obama unplugged leads to Joe the Plumber moments.

    • #28
    • July 19, 2012 at 10:05 am
  28. Profile photo of Miffed White Male Member

    I hope you’re right, but after “The Private Sector is doing fine” faded to nothing in two days, I’m not optimistic this will take hold. 

    • #29
    • July 19, 2012 at 10:28 am
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