By Matt Zeitlin
The Hill has a silly bit about Ed Rendell saying that “If Bill Clinton was president, he’d have been in a wetsuit, you know, trying to get down to see the spill.”
I think this perfectly captures the vast majority of purely perception based criticism of Obama’s personal response to the oil spill. Best I can tell, very few of the people who are saying that Obama hasn’t been publicly aggressive and involved enough actually specify what he should have done as a matter of policy once the spill happened. Most of the commentary seems to be on the level of getting in the wetsuit.
Of course, perception matters and it may be true that Obama will take a hit in public opinion because it didn’t look like he was involved enough with responding to the spill, but it doesn’t seem like it’s the news media’s job to report on perceptions that they are partially responsible for forming. If they perceptions are real, then they hardly need the Hill or Politico‘s stoking of them to be meaningful. Instead, they should be talking about what the administration actually did and what they could have or should have done. But that’s just me being naive and unrealistic.