The Week has a summary of the reaction to President Obama filling out a bracket for the NCAA basketball tournament, and notes that, predictably, the Republicans think it’s just awful that he would do such a thing with the terrible disaster in Japan and the unrest in the Middle East going on.
It’s similar to the situation back in June, when people were upset at Obama for playing golf and BP CEO Tony Hayward for attending a yacht race when the oil spill was going on. At the time, I wrote:
“The fact is, there is nothing that either Hayward or Obama need to do that they cannot do from a yacht race or a golf course. I suspect that at their level, almost all of their “oversight” can be done using cell phones.”
Same logic applies here. There’s probably not much Obama can do about these things other than put the right people in charge of those areas and perhaps make some calls.
But, as we all know, it is as much how they are perceived as what they actually do that matters for a President–or any high-ranking leader. (Republican strategist Lee Atwater supposedly said that “perception is reality”, though I think that quote–and I know that sentiment–predate him by quite a bit.)
I suspect, of course, that a politician’s charisma is what really determines the contemporary consensus on whether whatever they choose to do in a crisis is judged “good crisis handling” or “bad crisis handling’. But it might just be differences in skill between different political “spin” people.