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The Cowbell Presidency



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Andrew — I’m in total agreement with Gene Healy on the substance. But, he writes:

There you have it. Contemplating the policy wreckage that surrounds him, the president has concluded that what this country needs is a fresh injection of presidential hope. Like “more cowbell” in the old Saturday Night Live skit, it’s the magic ingredient that makes everything better.

Obama considers himself a sophisticated and nuanced guy, so you wouldn’t think his descent into self-parody would be quite so unsubtle.

Anyone else out there for the explanation that a lack of storytelling, explaining, and inspirational speeches was the great sin of the Obama presidency? According to CBS’s Mark Knoller, in his first two years in office, the president clocked 902 speeches and statements and gave 265 interviews. Anybody who talks that much runs the risk of saying too much. Case in point, this gem from the president’s speech Friday in Roanoke: “If you’ve got a business—you didn’t build that. Somebody else made that happen.” Inspiring!

Now, as a point of personal privilege: NRO readers know I’ve been ringing the bell about Obama’s cowbell presidency for a very long time (and a Nexis search seems to show I was first!). From 2009:

Why the Obama administration is determined to do the time warp again is easier to decipher. Obama’s advisers think the answer to every problem is more cowbell, if by “cowbell” you mean “Obama.” It’s like Obama guru David Axelrod is the Christopher Walken character from the Saturday Night Live skit about Blue Oyster Cult (if you don’t know the reference, Google “cowbell”).
Every time someone comes up with an alternative to throwing Obama on TV, Axelrod says, “No, no, no. Guess what? I got a fever, and the only prescription . . . is more Obama!”

But is that really what the doctor ordered?

Obama’s address next week will be his third prime-time appeal in three months and the fifth in his seven-month-old presidency. The networks are chagrined about this, not least because the ratings half-life of these events is severe. (Fox’s broadcast network beat out the other networks by running So You Think You Can Dance instead of his last prime-time press conference.) More relevant, they haven’t done Obama much good.

Since then, the cowbell stuff has been a pretty constant feature on NRO. Indeed, I am fairly sure that we inspired the rich line of Obama “More cowbell” apparel and goods:



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