John Ward's Daily Caller piece about the Obama White House's "emphasis on words over images" contains an odd little passage:
There is also a strong preference in the Obama White House for words rather than images as a persuasive tool.
This attempt to "elevate the dialogue" is admirable in its intent to improve political discourse. But it will give fuel to critics who say Obama thinks he knows best and can win others over if he can just explain everything to them.
"It will give fuel to critics who say ..." is a nifty way for a reporter to criticize a political figure while pretending he isn't the one leveling the criticism. But Ward mentioned no such critics, or criticism, so all we have to go on is Ward's description. Is a president thinking he knows what he should do and that he is capable of convincing others a bad thing now? We'd rather have one who doesn't have any idea what to do, or who doesn't have confidence that he can convince people he's right? Really? No, of course not. Nobody actually thinks that.
What Ward really seems to be getting at is the right-wing (and media) meme that Obama is a smug know-it-all who looks down on people who don't agree with him. But keep in mind that this passage appears in the midst of an article suggesting Obama should talk less and show more pretty pictures. Now, as a matter of communications strategy, I suppose there's a valid argument there, though it isn't one that interests me. But as a matter of smugness ... well, what's more patronizing? The belief that you can win people over by explaining your position to them -- or the belief that you can win people over by showing them some pretty pictures?
During and following President Obama's recent trip to Europe and the Middle East, which included a meeting of the G-20 and the NATO summit, conservative media figures and outlets have accused Obama of turning the trip into an "apology tour."