When President Barack Obama took the podium Monday, just three days after the Standard & Poor’s downgrade, it was widely considered an opportunity for the commander-in-chief to give the U.S. economy some confidence amid tumult in the financial markets. But based on the market’s performance the rest of the afternoon, his comments may have had just the opposite effect.
On Monday’s “Special Report” on the Fox News Channel, Washington Post columnist Charles Krauthammer criticized Obama for doing just that — not portraying the right image or speaking the right words to allay market jitters. According to Krauthammer, he played the blame game instead.
“Look, he is accusing the tea party because it threatened default, for causing this,” Krauthammer said. “He himself said openly he would veto any debt ceiling extension that wasn’t long enough to get him into 2013. He was going to veto it over the length, which incidentally turns out to be, as you point out, irrelevant. He got what he wanted on length and we still got the downgrade.”
Krauthammer added that he was quick to fault congressional Republicans for the exact same thing he did during these negotiations and raised the question of where exactly the buck stops.
“But here he is accusing others of holding debt as hostage as a bargaining chip when he said he would himself,” Krauthammer continued. “So he’s been completely contradictory. I was sort of stunned by his appearance today. I said, ‘Why did he go out there?’ He went out there with the Dow at minus-400. And after he spoke, it went down minus-600. He looked weak, plaintive and small. I mean weak and plaintive because he comes out there and he blames of course the tea party, Europe, Japan and the Middle East, probably God because he’s the author of earthquakes — everybody except for him.”
And Krauthammer asked what took Obama so long to realize he needed to put something on the table as a bargaining position.
“Juan [Williams] talked about a crisis of leadership,” Krauthammer said. “Leadership starts at the top with the presidency. Here he is way into our crisis, way in this issue of the double-dip, low growth rate, high unemployment, instability. After all of this, in office three years and today he says, ‘I will have recommendations on reducing the debt.’ Where was he in December when his own commission reported and he ignored it? Or with the budget in February, which increased our deficit and increased the debt by $10 trillion. All of a sudden he discovers the virtues of presenting the proposal. He has put nothing on the table and he blames everybody else.”