The Corner

Smooth Beats Snark

President Obama’s snarky response to John Boehner’s tweet was the wrong way to handle a provocative question from the opposition. After Boehner tweeted “Where are the jobs?” Obama first responded with a weak joke about a typo in the Boehner tweet: “John obviously needs to work on his typing skills.” But his follow up was worse, as he seemed to get annoyed with the query: “Obviously John is the speaker of the House, he is a Republican and so this is a slightly skewed question.”

Contrast these responses to how John F. Kennedy handled his own version of the Twitter summit, the live press conference. According to The Encyclopedia of TV News, Kennedy was once asked at a press conference about an RNC resolution declaring the Kennedy presidency to be a failure. Kennedy opted for self-deprecation over snark, as he responded: “I’m pretty sure it passed unanimously.” The press corps broke out in laughter, and Kennedy’s reputation earned a well-deserved bump. Obviously, Obama could learn something from his much smoother predecessor.

Tevi Troy is a presidential historian and former White House aide. His latest book is Fight House: Rivalries in the White House from Truman to Trump.

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