Every Washington pundit-type wants Obama to be more emotional about this damn oil spill. Most people want him to be angrier. Obama has told them he is "angry and frustrated," already. But they do not want him just to be angry. They need him to express that anger. CBS White House correspondent Chip Reid, when told by Press Secretary Robert Gibbs that Obama is mad, asked "Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do?" Yeah, like, does he chase Rahm Emanuel around the West Wing with a decorative samurai sword? What does he do?
They want him to be empathetic, too. Maureen Dowd says Obama should be "a prism in moments of fear and pride, reflecting what Americans feel." And he must express these feelings sort of like our national mood ring. If we're feeling "sensitive," Obama's face should turn green. Bill O'Reilly the other night had a whole segment on "Does Mr. Obama really lack empathy?" O'Reilly thinks:
[Obama] looks a little cold-blooded... He looks a little like, Alright, I'm here—you know, if that pelican is full of oil, Hey, that's just the way it goes..."
"What's that Rahm? Another goddamned oily pelican? Jesus Christ, can't you see I'm smoking a cigarette and playing a game of pickup basketball plus having a photo-op with Sir Paul McCartney and socializing our medicine?"
We're not here to say whether or not political pundits are right in their demand for Obama to be more emotional because, clearly, they are right or else they wouldn't be political pundits. Instead, we want to know if Obama was able to successfully display his anger and/or empathy on Larry King Live tonight. As you can see from the clip, he did not. He said "I'm furious" (anger) and "This is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years" (empathy.) But, honestly, he seemed about as "furious" as a Roomba that accidentally vacuumed the same spot on the floor twice. Where's the proof?
Here is how Obama should have handled this part of his Larry King interview:
KING: You appear so calm. Are you angry at BP?
OBAMA: You know, I am furious at this entire situation because this is an example where somebody didn't think through the consequences of their actions. [Grimaces, clenches fist and shakes it at the ceiling while issuing a primal scream. Struggles to calm self. Bums cigarette from production assistant. Sits and stares into space, shakily holding the cigarette as a wisp of smoke trails into the ceiling fan. Five minutes pass before he collects himself enough to continue.]
It's imperiling not just a handful of people. This is imperiling an entire way of life and an entire region for potentially years. [Pulls crumpled picture of oil-drenched pelican from his suit pocket and stares. A single tear drops from his cheek onto the picture. Camera zooms in and we see that the tear has fallen in such a way that it appears the pelican is crying as well. Drops the picture to the floor, hangs his head, and begins to weep. Malia comes in from off-screen, puts her hand on Obama's knee and asks, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?"]
Alright, so now that Obama's got our notes we can look forward to a breakthrough Meet the Press performance in the next few weeks.