Liz Sidoti of the Associated Press has written the most insipid news analysis on the Obama presidency in recent memory. Here's the key passage, which culminates in Sidoti asking if Obama is "obnoxiously articulate":
Obama has been a constant presence in the mass media as he expands the bureaucracy's reach into the private sector while presiding over national debates on issues that have become the focus of arguments over big government.
In doing so, he has created a quandary. Put aside for a moment the question of whether government is actually intruding into people's lives more than before. The point is that many people feel like it is — in part because Obama doesn't stop talking about his goals. If President George W. Bush got slapped around for being inarticulate, is Obama obnoxiously articulate?
Sidoti's "analysis" perfectly combines the media fetish for up-is-down counterintuitive analysis with its lack of understanding of how American politics actually works. In fact, the logic of her argument is precisely backward. Obama isn't struggling to pass his agenda because's he's a "constant presence in the mass media";* he's a constant presence in the mass media because he's struggling to pass his agenda. (And isn't it obvious that if Obama were less visible Sidoti and her colleagues would be writing pieces about how he's failing to promote his initiatives?)
The reality is that the president has relatively little formal power in the legislative process -- he's largely at the mercy of a handful of conservative Democrats and moderate Republicans in the Senate who determine the fate of filibusters. However, journalists like Sidoti tend to exaggerate his role in order to construct entertaining narratives.
In this case, however, the narrative isn't even entertaining; it's idiotic.
*Note that Sidoti is forced to admit later in the piece that she has no empirical support for her claim:
While Obama has been criticized for being too visible, AP-GfK surveys in the spring and summer found that most people say he is on TV about the right amount.
Still, he runs the risk of making people tune out. President Franklin D. Roosevelt scaled back the frequency of his fireside chats for exactly that reason.
Update 10/14 9:22 AM: It's even worse than I thought. I suggested above that "if Obama were less visible Sidoti and her colleagues would be writing pieces about how he's failing to promote his initiatives." In fact, as Jinchi points out below, Sidoti did precisely that approximately one month ago in a piece that condemned the president for failing to "articulate his vision" on health care:
[N]o one seems to know what the president seeks [on health care] or what change will mean for them.
"Confusing," says William Rhon of Steubenville, Ohio, a laid-off machinist. "I don't know what he wants to do," says Phil Axworthy, a Pittsburgh software developer. And Janet Wood, also of Pittsburgh, complains about "too many stories and rumors," saying: "I'd sort of like his basic outline of actually what the plan is."
A failure of leadership? Or simply a failure to communicate? Are those things the same when a complicated issue is so important to so many? And if a president can't articulate his vision on something so sprawling and all-encompassing, how can he lead?
In short, Sidoti criticized Obama in early September for failing to "articulate his vision" on health care. Obama then gave a nationally televised speech laying out his position on the issue and continued to speak out about health care and other issues in the following weeks. The result? Sidoti suggests that he is "obnoxiously articulate" because he hasn't "stop[ped] talking about his goals." In other words: heads I win, tails you lose.