Matt Lewis

Obama and the art of unfettered boredom

There is a danger to having panache. Sure, it helps you become famous and land a cable TV gig. But being quotable is a double-edged sword. Sometimes, just blending in is the way to go.

I once worked for a guy who managed to get his way in almost every internal dispute, simply by outlasting everyone. Really. He would pull you into a conference room, and bore you until you surrendered. It was easier that way.

In this television era, we have glamorized being glamorous. Obama, of course, has displayed charisma on the campaign trail, but compare that to how he and his team act while governing.

Being boring is almost an art form to these folks. Talking a lot, while saying very little, a mastered skill.

Look no further than Jay Carney for evidence. You may think he looks like a stammering weakling, but he’s not supposed to be the star. His demeanor is always as if to say, “aw-shucks, do you guys really think this is a big deal? I mean come on.” It’s brilliant!

And, of course, there are the talking points. Being disciplined enough to regurgitate pre-approved lines is boring. And that’s sort of the point.

Carney, of course, is merely one example. If you really want to get some much-needed sleep, try reading the Inspector General report.

Based on what we think we’ve learned about politics, this seems almost counterintuitive.

I know the two men are hardly analogous, but consider the dichotomy between how Team Obama and Team Clinton operated. Bill Clinton’s team might have been smart and tough, but their instinct to throw elbows — to say interesting things while throwing elbows — probably kept stories alive that might otherwise have otherwise died sooner.

When James Carville said of Paula Jones, “Drag a hundred-dollar bill through a trailer park, you never know what you’ll find,” he was being colorful. And though he might have succeeded in besmirching Jones’ reputation, he probably also fanned the flames of the story, keeping it alive, and making it irresistible for reporters to cover. (Even the term, “bimbo eruptions” was interesting.)

No, the Obama folks have it right. Bore us to death. Act as if nothing is a big deal. Repeat after me: “No drama, Obama.”