In politics, the preferred way to deal with a negative story is, of course, to ignore it. Act as though it is of such slight importance, so obviously untrue, and peddled by such disreputable sources that it isn’t worth your attention. You have far more important things to do. Much loftier challenges. A country to run. And so forth.

You don’t want to give the story status by denying it. Though, of course, sometimes you must.

If you are denying, you are – in some sense – validating. Acknowledging, at least, that the story might be plausible to some. The angrier the denial, the more likely it is that the story a) hurts and b) resonates with people who hear it and c) is true.

So it is of interest that, as Amie Parnes of The Hill reports:

The White House is bristling at suggestions President Obama is disconnected, checked out or out of touch. White House allies maintain that the storyline of a checked-out president is a myth drummed up by the media during the summer doldrums.

The “media,” you will notice, is the source of the problem. That would be the same media which the White House is accustomed to patting on the head while feeding it sweets with the other hand.

But the president’s defenders will make a small concession, here and there. As one of them put it:

“I think they could probably do a better job telling a broader narrative and the telling of a story … This is a data-driven White House. The president’s campaigns were data-driven. They need to put more poetry into the prose.”

Looking out at Pennsylvania Avenue, that is what they see from the White House windows. People in the streets, demanding more poetry.

Next Page