Presidents say stupid things.
Maybe it has to do with the 24 hour news cycle. Maybe it's because modern presidents seem to spend their entire day being documented . Or maybe it has to do with the fact that leading the free world is much harder these days. Who knows?
Under President George W. Bush, the budget deficit grew substantially. The wars in Iraq and Iran were not well managed and the economy tanked. President Bush had his critics, to be sure (including me - and I voted for the guy twice). And while he elevated maliprops to an art form, he didn't directly insult the intelligence of the American people.
President Barack Obama is far more eloquent than President Bush, yet recent statements coming out of his mouth and those of the administration make you wonder who he thinks he's talking to. Here's a sampling:
"Ultimately, I'm confident that the Supreme Court will not take what would be an unprecedented, extraordinary step of overturning a law that was passed by a strong majority of a democratically elected Congress."
- President Obama, April 2nd
"We wouldn't have the capacity to enforce the laws that protect the air we breathe, the water we drink, or the food that we eat. Cuts to the FAA would likely result in more flight cancellations, delays and the complete elimination of air traffic control services in parts of the country. Over time, our weather forecasts would become less accurate because we wouldn't be able to afford to launch new satellites and that means governors and mayors would have to wait longer to order evacuations in the event of a hurricane. That's just a partial sampling of the consequences of this budget."
- President Obama, April 3rd
"As all of you are doing your reporting, I think it's important to remember that the positions that I am taking now on the budget and a host of other issues. if we had been having this discussion 20 years ago or even 15 years ago … would've been considered squarely centrist positions..."
- President Obama, April 3rd
"What I acknowledged yesterday is that speaking on Monday the president was not clearly understood by some people because he is a law professor, he spoke in shorthand."
- White House Press Secretary Jay Carney, April 5th
So, in the course of a week, President Obama publicly intimidated the Supreme Court, insinuated that Senator Paul Ryan's budget would lead to environmental ruin and possible death of American citizens, and told White House reporters how to interpret his actions. In addition, his spokesman stated that his Supreme Court comments were misinterpreted because he is a law professor and, well, we're just not smart enough to interpret a clear statement.
We all know that the presidential election (a.k.a. "The Silly Season") is upon us, and we all know that politicians do and say some dumb things. Mitt Romney and the other Republican presidential candidates have said more than their share of dumb things, too. But the president is The President - he needs to operate on a higher plane than a lower level political hack. He needs to de-emphasize the "bully" part of his bully pulpit, and he needs to stop talking down to us.