The White House behaving badly: On the road to stinkburger

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Is the nation now witnessing dignity of office, a sense of decorum and gravitas? No. America is now on “the road to stinkburger” says online news maven Lucianne Goldberg, who refers to the increasing tendency of the White House to lower the quality of the public discourse.

To be specific, President Obama recently called the GOP budget proposal a “stinkburger” - much to the merriment of his college-aged audience. How hip can a president get before it interferes with his role as leader of the Free World? Perhaps this all got started when former Bill Clinton played saxophone on late night TV when he was campaigning for president. Perhaps not.

But there could be a price for such things.

“Presidents are most effective when they lead, not when they join the chorus of the ragtag pack,” notes Washington Post columnist Ed Rogers.

This is true, though presidents of yore took poetic license with their rivals according to historical records. Theodore Roosevelt once noted that William Taft was “a fathead with the brains of a guinea pig” while Herbert Hoover declared Franklin D. Roosevelt to be “a chameleon on plaid.”

But wait. There could be some limits emerging here. Witness the official chafing over another popular, populist practice.

“Maybe this will be the end of all selfies,” White House special adviser Dan Pfeiffer proclaimed to CBS News on Sunday, addressing Mr. Obama’s recent selfie with Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz. The cheerful moment later was used by Samsung for publicity, the image retweeted by the company 5.2 million times to the distress of White House media handlers. White House lawyers, however, had a little word with the electronics giant.

Why, there hasn’t been this much fuss since the Weatherproof Garment Co. put Mr. Obama on a billboard over Times Square four years ago. Think of it. The manufacturer came across an Associated Press photo of the president, who happened to be wearing a Weatherproof windbreaker. The licensing fee for the image was paid, up went the billboard and “The Obama Jacket” was born. Yes, well. That didn’t last long.

“This ad is clearly misleading because the company suggests the approval or endorsement of the president or the White House that it does not have,” a White House aide said at the time.

The fate of the presidential selfie, meanwhile, is likely more secure, though Mr. Obama previously was criticized for orchestrating a quickie portrait with Danish Prime Minister Helle Thorning-Schmidt and British Prime Minister David Cameron during a memorial service for Nelson Mandela. The Pope is still taking selfies, though. So are the British Royals.

“Let’s not get too selfie-righteous,” suggests Boston Herald sports columnist Chris Villani.

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