In a Wall Street Journal article and accompanying video published Wednesday, Jonathan Weisman and Neil King Jr. accuse President Obama of micromanaging and mock him for his attention to what they consider minutiae.
You know, every president has to make a decision, you know, are you going to fly way up high and look down on policy at 30,000 feet, sort of like George W. Bush did, or are you going to get down into the weeds and sometimes run into the risk of micromanagement, like Jimmy Carter did. Barack Obama has kind of tended toward the weeds....
President Obama, not only does he want to hear about the unemployment rates -- he wants to hear about the U6, the underemployment rate! A few weeks ago, they were talking about child obesity rates, and what to do about childhood nutrition. These things go into the weeds.
For the record, the U6 includes not just those traditionally labeled unemployed, but those who have given up looking for jobs and those who are employed part-time for economic reasons. That makes it arguably the most accurate measure of the impact the recession is having on American workers. And childhood hunger and obesity have a long, important and complicated interrelationship.
In the article, Weisman and King even go so far as to blame Obama's declining approval ratings not on, say, a massive lobbying and astroturf campaign by industries opposed to his policies, or on an angry nativism movement, but on the president's desire to understand things:
Whatever the merits or flaws of Mr. Obama's style, it sometimes has trouble translating with opponents, and the country at large. Following a smooth first few months in office, he has seen his agenda stall amid rising opposition, even from some members of his own party. His approval rating with the public in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll late last month was barely over 50%, down from 61% in April.
There are all sorts of legitimate reasons to be concerned about Obama's approach to governing.
But particularly after the presidency of George W. Bush, who so often seemed detached both from details and reality, Obama's intellectual curiosity is one thing journalists in particular should celebrate, not sneer at. It's the know-nothings we should be exposing, not the know-somethings.