President Obama appears more reluctant to address controversial issues on camera, since he first addressed the whirlwind of questions that emerged from the leaks exposing the National Security Agency surveillance programs in June.
When President Obama decided to intervene in the Syrian civil war, he sent a deputy national security spokesman to make his case in a conference call. In the aftermath of the military takeover in Egypt, Obama issued statements and nuanced details of his discussions with foreign leaders.
Obama again relied on an emailed statement to reporters after the verdict in the George Zimmerman trial attempting to heal the racial divide.
New York Times reporter Peter Baker suggests that the president is taking a “hidden hand” approach similar to that of President Eisenhower.
“What we saw from that is if you’re talking about everything all the time, it’s harder for the public to distinguish the things that are most important,” explains senior adviser to the president Dan Pfeiffer about the president’s silence.
This strategy, however, failed when President Obama appeared for White House cameras to promote his administration’s accomplishments in government efficiency on July 8. The media responded with a collective yawn, as the president failed to take questions or address any of the critical issues facing his administration.
“It’s not his job to narrate current events for the public,” Pfeiffer tells the Times. “It can complicate an already complicated situation.”
The questions of his leadership abilities, however, remain.
Is Obama using the “hidden hand” of leadership behind the scenes or has he become a more passive president? Regardless, his behavior now is a far cry from the bold picture of “Obama in charge” painted at the beginning of his second term.