The French have a phrase, “He missed an excellent opportunity to keep his mouth shut.” That’s certainly true of Obama last Tuesday when he rolled out a big gun from the arsenal of White House crisis management, an Oval Office address. Excluding FDR’s radio chats of the 1930s, there’s scant evidence across the past forty years that as a venue for rallying the nation, the presidential sanctum did Obama’s predecessors as president much good. In Obama’s case many of his stoutest supporters in the press could say little in its favor. Obama would have been advised to say nothing and leave the nation to the evening's main business, the NBA playoffs.
It was certainly the worst rally-the-nation speech by a US president I’ve ever watched, and that includes Nixon’s cornered-rat addresses of the early 1970s and – an ominous parallel -- Jimmy Carter’s fireside chat on April 1977, four months into his presidency, in the Oval Office promoting his plan for Energy Independence. To dramatize the need for conservation Carter wore a cardigan. He said the crusade for energy reduction was “the moral equivalent of war.” As he said these words he clenched his fist. America was not impressed, but more than they were on Tuesday."""""