Attacking the President for Being Presidential

Pete Souza, Official White House Photographer

President Obama oversees the assassination of Osama Bin Laden

Bob Cesca: In the absence of anything realistic and feasible to say, the Republicans have all along made an effort to attack the president — not in the name of substantive alternatives to his policies — but for every day basic things all modern presidents do.

It began even before the president was elected when far-right apparatchiks made a national stink over so-called “Greek columns” on the dais at the Democratic National Convention, even though countless politicians have been pictured with columns behind them, chiefly because Washington, DC is loaded with them. Everywhere. Inside the White House, outside the White House, at the Capitol building, at various memorials and all points in between.

Then it was the Teleprompter meme. Evidently the president isn’t allowed to use a prompter even though every president since the invention of the Teleprompter has used one — especially Reagan and subsequent chief executives. But when Barack Obama was inaugurated, the use of prompters suddenly became an impeachment-worthy trespass. Honestly, this one is kind of hilarious to me because now the Republicans have painted themselves into a corner. The ridiculousness of this attack has forced them to not use prompters during their own addresses, consequently they’ve been forced to awkwardly read from printed remarks, note cards or they have to just wing it.

Some of Mitt Romney’s biggest gaffes and verbal disasters have occurred when he’s winging it without notes or prompters. So, you know, good job on inexplicably demonizing Teleprompters, Republicans.

Next up, according to the Republicans, it’s against the rules to mention Osama Bin Laden in the context of finally getting him. When President Obama merely noted the success of the raid that killed Bin Laden one year after the event, he was excoriated. Yet here was just about every modern Republican leader at the 2004 convention:

Yeah, they were all kinds of subtle, weren’t they?

And now, they’re telling us that President Obama isn’t allowed to promote the benefits Americans will receive under the new healthcare reform law. The Department of Health and Human Services is requesting $20 million to instruct Americans what they can expect from the Affordable Care Act. Here are the predictable reactions from the predictable characters, via ThinkProgress:

– SARAH PALIN: “This is one of the stupidest things I’ve heard coming out of the Obama administration. Not only is this, of course, pending in court, and I think it will be deemed unconstitutional, but this is a propaganda piece, which I think violates many of the procurement laws and other laws applicable to government contracts. This is propaganda. It’s just promoting ‘ObamaCare.’” [Fox News, 5/22/2012]

– JOHN MCCAIN: “Outrageous waste of taxpayer $ to promote #Obamacare – ‘HHS signs $20M PR contract to promote healthcare law’ [Twitter, 5/22/2012]

– ROY BLUNT: “It’s unacceptable that Pres Obama intends to waste $20M on the taxpayer’s dime to sell U.S. on unpopular #ObamaCare” [Twitter, 5/22/2012]

– RON JOHNSON: “$20M for marketing #ObamaCare? This is a wasteful & inappropriate use of taxpayer dollars.” [Twitter, 5/22/2012]

Now, on the surface, $20 million seems like a lot. But considering the expenses involved, it’s understandable. Television spots alone could absorb most of that budget. And, by the way, correct me if I’m wrong but healthcare is kind of important — and knowing the changes in the system might be in the best interest of the people.

So how much is $20 million compared with prior efforts to promote changes in the healthcare laws?

In 2006, the Bush administration requested $126 million to promote the benefits in the Medicare Modernization Act. The Bush administration routinely spent millions of dollars on actual propaganda efforts in which they disguised administration talking points in the form of fake news stories. The Government Accountability Office (GAO) reported in 2004 that this process was “misleading… and may also have illegally used public money to make what in effect were fake news reports about the law that did amount to propaganda.”

The Republicans will absolutely continue down this road. I’m expecting attacks against the president’s use of a military jet (Air Force One), a podium and that extravagantly ornate mansion on Pennsylvania Avenue. Elitist.

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