President Barack Obama has a problem, a problem much bigger than his plummeting poll numbers among black voters, the ever-worsening housing market, or the chronically high national unemployment numbers. Although these are all bad and must be weighing down on him–whether he admits it or not–they are minor compared to his deeper problem, which is his inability to handle criticism, his inability to handle the truth.
We first saw this when Obama was starting to run for president and he put reporters “on notice” regarding comments about the size of his ears. Since then we’ve seen it in the way he locks out reporters who ask hard questions and, most recently, in the way he appears to have lodged a complaint with Gov. Jan Brewer regarding her criticism of the way he has gone to war with Arizona to keep that state from defending its southern border.
If you’ll recall, in December 2006, after New York Times’ reporter Maureen Dowd had written about how Obama’s “ears stick out,” Obama tracked her down at a speaking engagement and said: “I just want to put you on notice. I’m very sensitive,” adding, “I was teased relentlessly when I was a kid about my big ears.” (Rush Limbaugh was then criticized for seizing on that comment and warning people that it demonstrated Obama’s skin was too thin for the rigors of the presidency. And in retrospect, Limbaugh was right.)
Perhaps you remember the April 2011 exchange that took place between Obama and Dallas news reporter Brad Watson, during an interview wherein Watson asked the president pointed, probing questions instead of the kind of light and fluffy stuff a CNN reporter asks when he or she gets the chance. For example, as the two sat face to face, Watson looked right at Obama and asked: “Why do you think you’re so unpopular in Texas?” And when Obama tried to make it look like he wasn’t that unpopular in Texas, saying he’d only lost in 2008 by a “few percentage points,” Watson countered: “Well, you lost by about 10%. 55 to 44.” And because Obama can’t handle criticism, he became noticeably bothered as the questions continued. When the short interview was over, an angry Obama whispered to Watson: “Let me finish my answers next time we do an interview.”
Of course Watson won’t get another interview, because Obama locks reporters out if they dare take him to task. As Keith Koffler wrote of Obama’s reaction to Watson back in April, “Look how thin-skinned he can be.”
Speaking of thin-skinned, that’s the exact phrase Gov. Brewer used to describe Obama after he walked across the tarmac in Phoenix on Wednesday and greeted Brewer not with “hello” or “good to see you,” but with a complaint about how she’d described his efforts to deep-end Arizona’s S.B. 1070. He said he’d read the complaint in a passage from her book, “Scorpions for Breakfast.”
There Brewer wrote:
[Obama] has repeatedly made fun of those of us who want to see the law enforced, saying we want a ‘moat’ with ‘alligators’ in it around our country. The reason he has resorted to these failed attempts at humor, I think, is that he supports a policy that is fundamentally undemocratic, and he knows it.
Said Brewer of the exchange: “He brought up my book and he was a little tense. He said he read the excerpt and didn’t think I was very cordial. I said we’d have to agree to disagree. He was a little thin-skinned and tense, to say the least.”
The bottom line: Obama can’t handle criticism. Obama can’t handle the truth. Dowd proved it in 2006, Watson proved in 2011, and Gov. Brewer proved it again two days ago.