I watched tapes of President Obama's appearances on five Sunday talk shows and his Sunday morning talk-a-thon does not appear to have helped his cause. The speech to the Joint Session of Congress was newsworthy because such events are rare, and he was more effective communicating because he had a prepared text in front of him. Yesterday's appearance seemed scripted, but without being compelling. He had some points that he kept repeating, specifically the one about health-care inflation being much higher than overall inflation, which is actually negative, but he did not break any new ground on health care. In fact, I received a blast e-mail this morning from David Axelrod promising to explain the Obama health plan in four minutes, and it was all snippets from the Joint Session speech, and nothing from yesterday.
In terms of the anchors, George Stephanopoulos probably got the biggest rise out of him, once by giving the dictionary definition of the word "tax" and a second time when pressing the president lightly on ACORN. On the first point, the president said: "George, the fact that you looked up Merriam's Dictionary, the definition of tax increase, indicates to me that you're stretching a little bit right now. Otherwise, you wouldn't have gone to the dictionary to check on the definition." I'm not sure it proved any such thing, but the president then dismissed the argument by saying, "My critics say that everything's a tax increase. My critics say that I'm taking over every sector of the economy."
As for ACORN, when Stephanopoulos asked him about cutting off federal funding for ACORN, he said, "George, this is not the biggest issue facing the country. It's not something I'm paying a lot of attention to." Seems to me that when the House and Senate have overwhelmingly voted for cutting off funding to an organization the president was once affiliated with, it stands to reason that he would have followed the subject and had an opinion on it, but Stephanopoulos let him wiggle away nonetheless.
The president's biggest problem, however, was not the lack of a teleprompter or any of his questionable responses, but the danger of overexposure. When the president appears on every network in one morning, goes on a late-night talk show, and hawks George Lopez's show, then a presidential appearance is no longer a special event. If he loses the presidential mystique, he loses a lot more than a specific legislative battle, and mystique, once gone, is exceedingly hard to bring back.