Naturally, President Obama's lighthearted appearance last week in a BuzzFeed video that promoted the deadline to sign up for health coverage through the Affordable Care Act triggered humorless responses from his conservative critics.
Like clockwork, conservative commentators, led by Fox News, swooped in. Assigning themselves the role of protocol police, they sternly announced that Obama had extinguished all “dignity” from the Oval Office. “I yearn for my president looking presidential and serious right now,” announced Fox News host Greta Van Susteren.
Sound familiar? It should. For six years now Fox News' lineup of talkers and guests have been regurgitating the same condescending claim: Obama has “diminished” the office of the presidency and had done something unspeakable that's “beneath” his lofty position. It's part of an uglier, ongoing attack on Obama. It's the Fox News suggestion that Obama's not part of the American tradition, that he doesn't understand our history and doesn't know how conduct himself. Or, he's so arrogant that he just doesn't care.
But a review of the charges shows the alleged offenses have almost always been trivial and unimportant.
Here's a collection of at least 16 times Fox News figures claimed, or certainly insinuated, that Obama had diminished the office or done something “beneath” it. Each quote (via Nexis) is followed by the alleged etiquette slight that prompted the habitual hand wringing.
*February 12, 2015: “Some people think this diminishes the presidency. I certainly hope so because I think the presidency, not this president but the office itself, is too much with us and far too grand and encrusted in royal trappings.” - George Will
Obama transgression: Appearing in the BuzzFeed video.
*January 21, 2015: “Does it diminish the office to be sort of showing the swagger?” -- Megyn Kelly
Obama transgression: Being too confident during his State of the Union address following Democratic midterm losses.
*January 23, 2015: “For the people to say this is diminishing the dignity of the office, that happened a long time ago.” -- Tucker Carlson
Obama transgression: Being interviewed by handful of YouTube stars.
*November 6, 2014: “I thought his news conference yesterday was beneath the office in a sense of pretending that this wasn't a shellacking and just giving lip service to common ground.” -- National Journal's Ron Fournier appearing on Special Report With Bret Baier
Obama transgression: Not being humble enough at press conference following Democratic midterm losses.
*October 2, 2014: “So as we face down big, big, big problems in the world, skip the trash talk. It only diminishes the office of the president.” -- Greta Van Susteren
Obama transgression: He criticized Fox News in a speech.
*March 11, 2014: “Yes, look, people sometimes will say, look, I disagree with the president, but I respect the office. It'd be nice if Obama respected the office. When he does things like this, it diminishes not just him but the office itself. People around the world are watching this, as you say, with all these international crises going. And you just see him and the office just shrinking day by day.” -- Fox News contributor, Deroy Murdock
Obama transgression: He appeared on comedian Zach Galifianakis' comedy interview show, “Between Two Ferns” to promote Obamacare.
*April 6, 2013: “I'm on Twitter a lot, and when I see some of the things that these guys say, it's just beneath the office of the president.” -- Kirsten Powers
Obama transgression: A Politico report that noted the president's aides often find fault with Obama's critics via Twitter.
*April 25, 2012: “Do you think it's beneath the office of the president of the United States to go on 'Jimmy Fallon' and not only do an interview? I like that he did the interview, and we'll play some of that. But the fact that he did this slow rap, this slow talk afterwards, does that make any sense to you? Do you think that that is something beneath the office?” -- Brian Kilmeade (on Fox News Radio)
Obama transgression: Doing a few comedy bits on late-night television.
*April 25, 2012: “He's diminishing the office, diminishing himself, seemingly petty.” -- Sean Hannity
Obama transgression: Running a negative re-election campaign.
*May 2, 2012: “And the great asset the President has is the Oval Office, the presidency of the United States. He is diminishing that by using events which are national events as partisan events.” -- Patrick Buchanan
Obama transgression: Trumpeting the death of Osama bin Laden for political gain.
*June 26, 2012: “Don't you think it diminishes the office of the president, talking about condoms?” -- Andrea Tantaros
Obama transgression: Addressing birth control.
*October 26, 2010: “The decisive -- divisive rhetoric that he's used seems to me beneath the office.” Dana Perino
Obama transgression: Criticizing Republicans while campaigning for Democrats.
*October 28, 2010: “One of it, it drives independents further into the Republican column and energizes the Republicans as well, and more importantly that diminishes the office that he's been entrusted by the American people.” -- Karl Rove
Obama transgression: Appearing on The Daily Show With Jon Stewart.
*July 27, 2010: “This pandering to the entertainment elites diminishes the office and it ends up further estranging him from the common man.” -- Laura Ingraham
Obama transgression: Being too cozy with celebrities.
*June 18, 2009: “The president of United States should not be afraid of coming on Fox News, nor should the president of the United States diminish his office by seeming to engage in a petty fight with the -- with the -- with a network himself.” -- Karl Rove
Obama transgression: Criticizing Fox News.
*April 6, 2009: “This diminishes him. This takes the presidency, the most powerful office in the world, and diminishes it.” -- Karl Rove.
Obama transgression: “separating himself from the Bush administration,” according to Bill O'Reilly.
Sorry Fox News, but you know what does “diminish” the office of the presidency? Incessantly claiming the occupant isn't worthy of respect.