Silver’s point is interesting because it’s a reminder that the myopic focus on whether Obama is hitting the right note or whether he is in touch—down to the minutiae—is largely irrelevant. Arguably, the media tried at the outset to characterize public outrage too summarily, letting it roil and jump according to every presidential tick and eye flutter—and, essentially, tying it to the wrong object. (This is why the following bit in the NYT story is so ironic: “Appearing on ‘60 Minutes,’ [Obama] laughed in talking about the problems he faced, leading his interviewer to ask if he was punch-drunk. That was not a question that seemed pertinent Tuesday.”)
The superficial assessments of Obama’s performance Tuesday night—from boring to professorial to unemotional—are frustrating for that reason: they seek to resolve a media narrative (how will he appease the crowds?) that has largely been expedited and shaped by the dramatic potency of creating sides—an overwrought messiah vs. the crowds type of scenario, if you will.
But popular anger by itself shouldn’t (and ultimately won’t) drive Obama’s agenda (as George Packer notes in a smart blog post), and Obama knows that. So let’s stop blowing the president-responds-to-public’s-anger story out of proportion. Plus, as Dan Froomkin at the Post notes: “Polls continue to show that the American people are considerably more patient with and appreciative of Obama than the daily drumbeat of media coverage might have you believe.” Indeed.