President Obama has been in office just over 50 days. In this short time, several media pundits and outlets are attacking the president’s extensive legislative agenda saying it is too much, too soon. The financial pundits are blaming the President for the stock market’s unprecedented loss of value since January.
Media attacks already after 50 days in office?
Welcome to the White House, Mr. President.
During his weekly radio address on Saturday, the President made points to remind Americans the financial crisis began 18-months prior to his occupancy in the White House. West Wing aides on the national television shows Sunday all spent time reminding people of what President Obama inherited from the previous administration – the little things like a global fiscal crisis, two wars and deteriorating global relationships.
While it is good to answer critics, I am hopeful the President and his team move back to focusing on the agenda ahead. President Obama and his team have enacted more laws and Executive policy changes in the first 50 days than the previous administration did in months. Media criticism is expected and pundits egging on for a fight are standard fair.
While there is a propensity to respond back it is fraught with danger and can be a distraction many elected officials get entangled in that derails initiatives, policies and drags governments to a halt.
There is a balance in media response and being able to answer questions and make points. It is critical to do so with a big picture perspective and not get sucked into the mud. The stock market’s ability to rise or fall is far beyond what happens in the White House. The market’s reactions to unemployment and other economic indicators including reported corporate financial statements are all inputs affecting Wall Street’s daily bottom line. To blame this President for the state of the market and the national economy is ridiculous and irresponsible. Measuring what the market has does in the president’s first 50-days against any other President’s first 50 days is just silly and irrelevant.
However, the White House needs to equally not try to play this game. You can’t say the market’s drop is not a product of the President, if you try to take credit for Wall Street’s sudden climb at the end of the week. The President and his team need to keep their eye on the ball and move the President’s message forward and not backward.
The balancing act the President and all elected officials need to master is the trick in knowing when to respond to media criticism, how and even more important – when it is better to ignore it. A tough trick to pull off and one has to have a steel stomach and ego to do it.