Courtesy JoshBerglund19 via FlickrOn a day when the executive branch released a major report on the effects of climate change already underway in the United States, where was President Obama?
Not at the official release of “Global Climate Change Impacts in the United States.” Two of his top science officials, John Holdren and Jane Lubchenco, were there to speak about the significance of the multi-department report, but the president was not.
According to the daily schedule released to the press, Obama spent much of the day in public and private events with Korean President Lee Myung-bak. He received regular daily briefings in the morning and met with advisers in the afternoon, but apparently did nothing to use his bully pulpit to draw attention to the climate report.
What’s more, his separate Organizing for America campaign arm sent out an email blast today on an entirely different topic, asking for donations to support a campaign to get a health care overhaul enacted.
So what? Sure, the Multitasker-in-Chief’s ability to work on many issues at once has been amply chronicled, usually with supernatural undertones. And we’re not so blind to the world around us that we can’t concede that Iran or North Korea are important issues that demand the president’s time and attention. But the White House message is best delivered by focusing on a single issue each day, as the Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder wrote recently:
The White House is very adept at exploiting the Michael Deaver [advisor to President Reagan] code of presidential communication: the president should pay public attention to one major issue, per day; the structure of our media and democracy is bound to turn the president’s words into a major story.
If “climate change is here” really was meant to be today’s message, as whitehouse.gov suggested this morning, Obama didn’t do much to advance the story.
The White House promised a live stream of the report’s release, so I watched the whitehouse.gov streaming channel while the daily press briefing ran over schedule while Robert Gibbs answered—what else—health care questions.
When the climate report press event finally came online, it was half over. And at the daily briefing, not one reporter asked about climate or energy.