Obama's worst week?
- 11 June 2012
- From the section US & Canada
The American media has decided that President Obama has just had his worst week ever.
Some are arguing that this is a pivotal moment: from now it is downhill all the way to defeat. It is far too early to say that. It was a really silly remark by Mr Obama on Friday that turned a series of unhappy and unconnected events into something that felt like a trend.
First there was bad economic news, then a big Republican win in Wisconsin, then a phenomenal success in fundraising by Mitt Romney's campaign.
Then the - yes I will write the word - "gaffe", which was in fact an aside during a rare presidential news conference.
The very fact that he held the news conference made some White House correspondents cross. They couldn't find a news line, and thought it was pointless holding such a gathering without one.
They were wrong: the point was Europe and the president's "prodding" paid off at the weekend with a big bailout for Spanish banks. But they're not interested in that.
What they did seize on was the president saying the private sector was "fine" and then hours later having to say it was "not fine".
You can see what he was trying to do. There are very sound political reasons why he wants to point out that it is the failure to maintain jobs in the public sector that is the problem. They are shrinking, whereas the private sector is growing, albeit very slowly.
He wants to blame Republican intransigence for the cuts that lead to job loses and claim that Mr Romney would cut even more. He wants to argue that the jobs of teachers, police and firefighters are "real jobs" not a waste of taxpayers' money.
But he made the point in a daft way. It was a gaffe, and a clumsy and stupid one at that. Covering the politics of gaffes can be tiring and it can reduce a serious business to an infantile policing of language and thought.
But politicians' chosen weapons are words and they must use them carefully. People hate it when politicians look as though they are speaking not an approximation of the truth as they see it, but something that suits them at that moment. So this does hurt Mr Obama.
But a turning point? I'll tell you in a couple of weeks.