Several conservative commentators have attacked Obama by claiming he “lowered himself” and diminished the office of the President by appearing at the bipartisan health care summit.
Right-wing media: Obama “diminishe[d] his aura” with summit participation that was “beneath” his office
Krauthammer: Obama “risked his prestige” and “diminishes his aura.” On Special Report, Fox News contributor Charles Krauthammer said Obama “risked his prestige” with the summit, and that Obama had “given up the aura of the presidency -- which is half king, half prime minister -- and he's now at the level of the prime minister, toe-to-toe with members of Congress. So he diminishes his aura.”
Ingraham: Obama “lowered himself” by appearing as moderator at health care summit. On Fox News' The O'Reilly Factor, after Bill O'Reilly said that Obama “did a good job as a moderator in this forum,” Fox News contributor Laura Ingraham commented, “He's the President of the United States, he's not a moderator,” adding that Obama “lowered himself.”
Tucker Carlson: Obama “seem[ed] diminished,” he “looked like just another guy on a subcommittee hearing.” From the February 25 edition of Special Report:
CARLSON: Well the White House is making the same bet that they always make, which is if they just get the President out there, people will fall in love. They'll be enthralled by the power, the magnetism of his personality. This is the same bet they made going into Copenhagen, to try to win the Olympics for Chicago. It's the same bet they made early on with the joint address to the joint session of Congress. They make it every time. And every time the verdict comes back -- which is this guy may be charming -- but it's not enough. The public just doesn't buy the program. I think this time, as Mara [Liasson] alluded to, he may have actually pushed it too far. He did seem diminished in this forum I thought because he was on-- as someone, a Hill aide -- wrote to us today, he looked like just another guy on a subcommittee hearing in Rayburn.
Kathryn Jean Lopez asks if the summit was “Beneath the Office?” In a February 25 National Review Online blog post headlined, “Beneath the Office?” editor Kathryn Jean Lopez posted the following reader comment:
I cannot get over the President of the United States being a time keeper and moderator of this. These tasks seem to be beneath the office. AND he does not even appear to be able to keep control - they're already way over time, which seems to be his biggest concern. It's hard to believe he has done this to himself. In my mind, this has been a disaster for him. He continues to look professorly and cool and Rs look passionate and knowledgeable. To say nothing of the substance of the arguments . . .
National Review's Yuval Levin: Obama doesn't “seem like the President,” but “more like a slightly cranky committee chairman or a patronizing professor.” In another February 25 NRO blog post, Yuval Levin wrote that “it is hard to see how the Democrats are doing themselves anything but harm with the health-care summit.” He said of Obama's participation in the summit:
Third, an important part of the Democrats' problem is that Obama himself is their only star, and this format is not working for him. He certainly seems engaged and well informed (even given a few misstatements of fact, at least one of which John Kyl made very clear.) But he doesn't seem like the President of the United States-more like a slightly cranky committee chairman or a patronizing professor who thinks that saying something is “a legitimate argument” is a way to avoid having an argument. He is diminished by the circumstances, he's cranky and prickly when challenged, and he's got no one to help him.