As the BP oil disaster intensifies in the Gulf of Mexico, critics from the left and right alike are accusing President Obama of acting like a "cold fish." Filmmaker Spike Lee, speaking on CNN, begged Obama to — just once — "go off." Conservative critics say the president's calm response shows he's out of touch with the suffering of people on the Gulf Coast — or worse, he doesn't care. Does Obama's role as national leader require him to express more anger and sorrow? (Watch a Fox Business discussion about Obama's temperament.)
Yes, a little anger from Obama would soothe the public's anxiety: Obama says he's "furious," but he sure doesn't show it, says Meghan McCain in The Daily Beast. The American people are overwhelmed with a feeling of extreme helplessness and anxiety as we see the oil gushing into the Gulf with no relief in sight. We need "more intense leadership" from our president to give us faith that he's working as hard as he can to fix this — and the only way for him to provide that assurance is to show "more emotion."
"Obama's oil spill insanity"
Sorry, but he has to keep an even keel: Obama does need to connect more with the American people over the spill, says Jonathan Capehart in The Washington Post. But he can't afford to "go off" as Spike Lee advised. If he were to do so, he would risk being pegged as "the Angry Black Man" — and then he'd really have problems. Americans traditionally want their president to be calm in times of crisis. They should be glad they have that in Obama.
"Rage: Why Obama won't and can't give you what you want"
Rage would look phony — but he needs to change in other ways: Obama is calm, cool, and collected to the core, says Frank Rich in The New York Times. "If he tried to go off, he’d look ridiculous." But there are real "failings" he needs to correct. For one, he needs to shake his faith in ultra-smart experts — in the oil industry, and within his own administration — and embrace his inner Teddy Roosevelt, wielding "the big stick of reform against BP and the other powerful interests that have ripped us off."
"Don't get mad, Mr. President. Get even"
Obama seems out of touch because he is: There's a good reason why the president can't be a leader whose emotions ordinary Americans can relate to, says Dorothy Rabinowitz in The Wall Street Journal. The man "is hard put to sound convincingly like the leader of the nation, because he is, at heart and by instinct, the voice mainly of his ideological class. He is the alien in the White House."
"The alien in the White House"