President Obama made a “surprise visit” to the White House Press Room on Thursday. Undoubtedly, this was not an impulse or an accident, but a calculated attempt to create a new kind of photo-op. The idea was almost certainly to make news about the newness of this President not hiding from public-minded questioning. The assumption must have been that the WH press corp would be so bowled over by Obama’s entrance that they’d fawn and gush over him and pump out puff pieces proclaiming his newness and openness.
Turns out, the reporters took advantage of the unheard-of chance by actually asking Obama a question!
“Why, Mr. President, are you nominating the Raytheon Corporation lobbyist William J. Lynn III to serve as Deputy Secretary of Defense? Isn’t that an egregious violation of your campaign promise and subsequent Executive Order to stop doing this kind of thing?”
Obama’s answer? Not so new:
“The president brushed [the question] off, saying he would not return “if I’m going to get grilled every time I come.”
So, in other words, this “surprise visit” was old wine in a new bottle, a staged event all about coercive image-making, with no connection whatsoever to any new openness. If the Press Room is going to ask President Obama questions, then he’s not coming there. Simple as that.
No wonder Ronald Reagan, the figurehead-in-chief when political marketers perfected the art and science of photo-op psy-ops, is one of Obama’s heroes.
“Change you can believe in.”©®™