Nancy Pelosi says I showed "disrespect" to President Obama. A weasel at the Washington Post claims I was "nasty." And even my sparring partner Geraldo Rivera accuses me of stripping the president of "his majesty." How did I do that? By accurately reminding Mr. Obama that he was once a community organizer in Chicago.
Many of the president's supporters apparently believe he is beyond criticism, that he can never be challenged or interrupted. But the "majesty" is inherent in the office, not the man. I wonder what Geraldo would say to Sam Donaldson, who constantly hammered President Reagan? Or Dan Rather, who made his name by confronting President Nixon? Were they stripping those presidents of their "majesty?"
All presidents get slammed, and pretty much anyone who achieves power in America will be a victim of character assassination. It goes with the territory. The higher you rise in this country, the more darts you'll have to pull out of your skin. Those darts sting a little more if you are thin-skinned as President Obama seems to be.
It is clear that he is not used to criticism. Unlike President Bush, who didn't really care what was said about him, Mr. Obama does pay attention to the bricks tossed his way. And his distaste for Fox News is obvious. He has brought up FNC numerous times, most recently during our White House interview when he disparaged my "TV station."
Truthfully, I can feel Barack Obama's pain, because it took me years to develop a psychological mechanism that allowed me to ignore the dishonest personal attacks. I used to react angrily to the character assassins. Now I mostly ignore them, although the clown at the Washington Post did raise my ire a bit. (By the way, "ire" does not derive from "Irish.")
Americans expect the powerful, the rich, and the famous to take the slings and arrows without whining. When you have millions of dollars and everybody knows your name, you cannot expect an outpouring of sympathy. But I have learned that most Americans are fair-minded and make up their own minds about people. They know the guttersnipes from the people of good will.
Finally, there are some who do treat the president shabbily. They go beyond criticism of his policies and demean his character. But on balance, he has gotten a much softer ride from the media than any other president in my lifetime, with the possible exception of John Kennedy. Brit Hume, who has covered politics for nearly 50 years, told Factor viewers this week that the traditional "adversarial relationship" between the president and the White House press corps no longer exists. So even though Mr. Obama is having trouble solving vexing problems, even though there are many unanswered questions about Benghazi and the IRS, and even though ObamaCare chaos mounts by the day, much of the media remains firmly in his corner.
Underneath it all, I believe Barack Obama truly feels that his critics are unfair. He is a man who had rarely experienced the wrath of negative public opinion before becoming president. Now that wrath is a daily occurrence, and the president is having trouble processing it.
The other day Barack Obama told me that, as president, "you know that you're going to be subject to criticism." That's been true of every president in U.S. history, whatever the "majesty" of the office. Just ask a few guys named Carter, Clinton, and Bush.
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