OMG! Obama didn't go to the border for a photo-op!

Cable TV focuses on gimmick that didn't happen

WASHINGTON, D.C. - May we please stop for a moment to note the screaming absurdity of the latest partisan contretemps?

The “national conversation” – a heinous phrase made up by some unnamed media villain -- for the past couple of days has been yakking about whether the most powerful man in the free world should have had a phony-baloney photo-op on the Texas border.  If you don’t believe me, turn on any of the three cable networks and wait 15 minutes. Rinse. Repeat.

Really. A photo-op. 

We have sunk to this level. We are treating a standard issue political gimmick that didn’t even happen as a legitimate object of political debate.

You would expect attacks from his Republican.

“There is a humanitarian crisis at the border, but President Barack Obama thinks fundraising for Democrats is more important than getting a firsthand look at the problem,” wrote Republican National Committee chairman Reince Preibus in the Austin-American Statesman.  And that’s fine.  They attack everything Obama does.

But why does the press take this so seriously? Yes, it is worth noting that Republicans have criticized Obama for going to Texas without visiting facilities that are processing the influx of migrant women and children.  Yes, it is possible this was not a savvy political move – duly noted. Move on.

It would be different if the administration didn’t have a policy or plan for the underlying issue. But it does. On Tuesday the administration proffered a $3.73 billion supplemental budget request targeting this border problem. That’s about as substantive as it gets.

But substantive is dull.  Let’s cluck about the theatrics. No photo op! An outrage.  Indeed, could it be, just maybe, possible, potentially a Serious Gaffe? A Serious Gaffe could warrant 25 percent more coverage.  Some think it could be more than a Serious Gaffe. It could be a Katrina Moment!

Bob is a Democratic strategist, what so you think?

Rob is a Republican strategist, what do you think?

More after this break …


Here are some headlines:

Obama defends not visiting Texas border, saying he’s ‘not interested in photo ops’,” The Washington Post;  

Looking Off-Key on Tour, Obama Changes Tune in Texas,” Real Clear Politics

The Border Crisis Is Not "Obama's Katrina." Not Even Close,” The New Republic

Caught on the Border: Has Obama Already Failed on Immigration Crisis?”

You get the gist of my jest.

Sometimes the stagecraft of politics is interesting, very occasionally it is important. In this case, it’s neither.

Are we in the media enablers? By focusing so much on PR of politics do we trivialize it and, worse, encourage the rascals?

Those are rhetorical questions. The answers are obviously yes.

But taking a photo-op that didn’t happen this seriously? It’s over the top.

Print this article Back to Top

DecodeDC's Mission

DecodeDC's foremost aim is to be useful. That means being a reliable, honest and highly entertaining source of insight and explanation. It also means providing multimedia coverage of Washington's people, culture, policies and politics that is enlightening and enjoyable. Whether it's a podcast, a video, an interactive graphic, a short story or a long analysis, it will be based on this guiding principle: We are in DC but not OF DC.