… And by “little people” I mean Speaker John Boehner and NYT Columnist Nick Kristof.
Speaker Boehner’s question read “After embarking on a record spending binge that’s left us deeper in debt, where are the jobs?” Obama kicked off his answer by saying “Well, obviously, John’s the Speaker of the House… he’s a Republican, so this is a slightly skewed question.” Maybe it would be easier for you to answer, Mr. President, if it came from your frends at the AFL-CIO? No? Alright then.
There were other questions… a cherry picked handful of softballs, all of which could have been (and were, indirectly) answered with a link back to the official WhiteHouse.gov site. If you missed it, here it is, broken down question by question.
The event itself was relatively uneventful. President Obama delivered his standard long-winded responses. He tweeted from the stage, taking time to note that it was an unprecedented move for a President to “live-tweet”. Ultimately, it was a way for him to take questions and keep up appearances without dealing with reporters and their messy follow up questions. It was also, however, a novel thing to do, and was able to generate plenty of buzz.
What the White House failed to consider is that the one place conservatives dominate on the “Internets” is Twitter.
Giving snarky Twitter users an #askobama opportunity is like Christmas in July, and the opportunity was seized. GOP leaders and conservative influencers were all in on the game, drawing more and more people in as the 2pm start time came closer. The Huffington Post chimed in earlier to say Republicans were crashing the town hall. (Is it a problem for Republicans to ask the President questions, too? He is, after all, the President of both Democrats and Republicans.) The Wall Street Journal also jumped in, highlighting tweets from the #askobama stream. The President’s team had thrown him into the proverbial Lion’s Den.
The end result was that it fell a little flat. The “curators” couldn’t hand Obama the hard questions, and no one really got any answers. Obama can still say he did something new and groundbreaking. Many will see it as a desperate attempt to revitalize the waning support he had among the youth in 2008, and they’re probably right.