It is a revealing and possibly damning bit of presidential carelessness: That would be President Obama’s “open mic” mishap with French President Nicolas Sarkozy. The pair groused about Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu behind closed doors, but near a stray open microphone placed in an anteroom to help language translators.
“I can’t stand him anymore. He’s a liar,” Mr. Sarkozy said of his Israeli counterpart, in what was supposed to be a private backstage moment during the recent Group of 20 summit in Cannes, France.
“You may be sick of him, but me, I have to deal with him every day,” Mr. Obama replied. The exchange was made public by the French press and later confirmed by U.S. wire services.
Sen. John McCain and Rep. Michele Bachmannare among Republicans vexed over the trite but telling exchange. White House spokesman Jay Carney allowed that he had no comment “on the specific conversation.” Not so Abraham H. Foxman, national director of the Anti-Defamation League.
“We are deeply disappointed and saddened by this decidedly un-presidential exchange between Presidents Sarkozy and Obama,” says Mr. Foxman. “What is sad is that we now have to worry to what extent these private views inform foreign-policy decisions of the U.S. and France — two singularly important players in the peace process.
THE CAIN MUTINY
How’d he do? Presidential hopeful Herman Cain held his own during his straightforward press conference Tuesday to reply to charges he sexually harassed job seeker Sharon Bialek — judging by a few press descriptors immediately afterwards: “defiant (USA Today); “stood his ground” (National Public Radio); “fired back” (CBS News); “defiant” (Associate Press); and “vigorously denied” (Fox News).
THE FRUGAL SOCIALIST
Poll numbers lag; hubbub is elsewhere. But Rep. Michele Bachmann is determined to distinguish herself on the campaign trail. The presidential hopeful has introduced a snappy new phrase that has caught the fancy of the fickle press.
“We cannot preserve liberty for ourselves and our posterity if the choice next November is between a frugal socialist and an out-of-control socialist,” Mrs. Bachmann recently told a Family Research Council audience.
Bingo. “Frugal socialist” attracted journalists — and analysts.
“While Bachmann has received significant mileage with the ‘frugal socialist’ concept, the question remains: Did she really coin this phrase? Not quite,” says Eric Ostermeier, a University of Minnesota political professor and the fonder of Smart Politics, an analytical blog. The phrase has been used in news coverage, he says, since 1988.
“Smart Politics is not suggesting Rep. Bachmann or her campaign were aware of previous usages of the phrase. She may want to reconsider any thoughts she may have of ordering in bulk ‘End Frugal Socialism’ T-shirts for her campaign website,” Mr. Ostermeier observes. ” Because Herman Cain is likely to come up with a phrase that is just as memorable over the next 24 hours.”