Random thoughts on the state of the world on the first day of spring

Today, the first day of spring, is warmish outside.  I think it actually broke 50!  We had a few hours of sun, but now it is mostly cloudy.  I finally purchased John Grisham’s “Sycamore Row”.  I had been resisting but succumbed because I loved “A Time to Kill” and I ended up getting 45% off the cover price.  Don’t know if a new Grisham is a sign of spring or not, but I’m going to take it as one.

It is hard for me to concentrate on much the last few days.  There is just too much news! Between the missing Malaysian airliner, Crimea, and worrying about the Democrats retaining Congress in the fall, things are pretty depressing even for someone who tends to be an optimist.

Unfortunately, I think that time ran out a long time ago for the passengers on the airliner and now all we can do is watch as the world tries to locate the remains of the plane and the black box.  While everyone points out that they did eventually find the Air France plane that went down in the Atlantic, it was very difficult even though we had a much better of idea of where it went down.  I see the families on television and wonder what I would feel if I just didn’t know what happened.  At this point one almost has to treat it as a forensic mystery to be solved.

I don’t think we are on the verge of a war over Russia and the Crimea, but I do think that things will be difficult internationally for a while.  This will affect negotiations in Iran and Syria as well as people in the Ukraine and Crimea.  But the ultimate losers may be the Crimeans.  David M. Herszenhorn had an article in the New York Times yesterday which pointed out that the troubles there may just be starting.

Many A.T.M.s in this sun-dappled seaside resort city in Crimea, and across the region, have been empty in recent days, with little white “transaction denied” slips piling up around them. Banks that do have cash have been imposing severe restrictions on withdrawals.

All flights, other than those to or from Moscow, remain canceled in what could become the norm if the dispute over Crimea’s political status drags on, a chilling prospect just a month before tourist season begins in a place beloved as a vacation playground since czarist times.

He points out that Ukraine could cut off electricity and water supplies and that there is no direct overland route between Crimea and Russia.  The story ends with this

Some Crimeans said they were already feeling the financial sting from political instability.

As crowds in the cities of Simferopol and Sevastopol held raucous celebrations well into Monday morning after the vote, here in Yalta, Ihor B., the owner of a small travel business, went to bed with a growing sense of dread: The roughly two dozen bookings that he had received since the start of the year had all disappeared.

“I got 10 requests from Germany, and 10 assignments from Ukrainian agencies for Western tourists; a couple of requests from Dutch tourists and cruise ships,” said Mr. B, who asked that his last name not be used for fear of reprisal by the new Russian government. “At the moment, all of them, absolutely all of them, are canceled.”

In the same issue of the Times was a long cautionary story about South Ossetia which was liberated from Georgia five years ago.  But things have moved on and South Ossetia is not doing very well.

When Russia invaded Georgia, repelling a Georgian attack on South Ossetia and taking control of the separatist enclaves of South Ossetia and Abkhazia, it seemed most unlikely that the Kremlin was thinking about long-term consequences.

As in Crimea, the war was presented to Russians as a humanitarian effort to protect its citizens, and more broadly as a challenge to encirclement by the United States, which was aligned with Georgia. Television stations gave the intervention blanket coverage, and it was wildly popular in Russia, lifting the approval ratings of Dmitri A. Medvedev to the highest point of his presidency.

The aftermath of recognition, however, has presented Russia with a long series of headaches. This week, economists have warned repeatedly that Crimea, if it is absorbed, will prove a serious drag on Russia’s budget, but their arguments have been drowned out in the roar of public support for annexation.

Aleksei V. Malashenko, an analyst at the Carnegie Moscow Center, said Russian officials “will be shocked” with the challenges they face when trying to manage Crimea — reviving its economy, distributing money and influence among its ethnic groups, and trying to control the corruption that accompanies all big Russian projects. And, judging from precedent, the public’s euphoria will fade, he said.

“I think that in Russia, the majority of the society forgot about Ossetia, and if it weren’t for the Olympics, the majority of the society would also forget about Abkhazia,” Mr. Malashenko said. “Of course, Crimea is not Ossetia. But anyway, the popularity of Crimeans, and the Crimean tragedy, will be forgotten in a year.”

So maybe we don’t need to do anything except some sanctions and make sure that Russia and Putin’s next move is not to march into eastern Ukraine.  Forget John McCain’s mockery and advice.

As for domestic politics, I recalled Andrew Sullivan’s March 13th blog entry on The Dish. The Boring, Relentless Advance Of Obama’s Agenda.  To read the entire piece one has to subscribe [which I would encourage you to do], but here is his conclusion.

…One side is theater – and often rather compelling theater, if you like your news blonde, buxom and propagandized. The other side is boring, relentless implementation. At any one time, you can be forgiven for thinking that the theatrics have worked. The botched roll-out of healthcare.gov, to take an obvious example, created a spectacular weapon for the GOP to hurl back at the president. But since then, in undemonstrative fashion, the Obama peeps have rather impressively fixed the site’s problems and signed up millions more to the program. As the numbers tick up, the forces of inertia – always paramount in healthcare reform – will kick in in defense of Obamacare, and not against it. Again, the pattern is great Republican political theater, followed by steady and relentless Democratic advance.

Until the theater really does create a new majority around Republican policies and a Republican candidate, Obama has the edge. Which is to say: he has had that edge now for nearly six years. Even if he loses the entire Congress this fall, he has a veto. And then, all he has to do is find a successor able to entrench his legacy and the final meep-meep is upon us. And that, perhaps, is how best to see Clinton. She may not have the stomach for eight years in the White House, and the barrage of bullshit she will have to endure. But if you see her as being to Barack Obama what George H.W. Bush was to Reagan, four years could easily be enough. At which point, the GOP may finally have to abandon theater for government, and performance art for coalition-building.

Plus, it is spring.

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

Mutts by Patrick McDonnell

Syria? Really?

The President, probably never believing that Assad would use chemical weapons, drew a red line.  He’s been stalling around saying he needs verification, but now he has it.  The question is what should we do now.  I think Obama is stuck.

130612_barack_obama_ap_605

The United States has a long history of failed interventions.  Vietnam was basically a civil war.  We armed the Taliban when they were our “friends”.  We actually started a civil war in Iraq by stupidly dismissing all the Baathists saying they can’t be part of any new Iraqi government.  Now we are again taking sides against the Baathist who currently rule Syria.  My big fear is that the region will explode into a Sunni v. Shia conflict and we will be seen as taking sides.

Andrew Sullivan wrote this morning

My strong view, vented last night as I absorbed this stunning collapse of nerve, is that we shouldn’t fight at all. We are damn lucky to have gotten every GI out of Iraq, and the notion of being sucked back into that region again – and to join sides in a sectarian conflict – is a betrayal of everything this president has said and stood for. It’s a slap in the face for everyone who backed him because he said he wouldn’t be another Bush or McCain or Clinton. If he intervenes in Syria, he will have no credibility left with those of us who have supported his largely sane and prudent foreign policy so far. Libya was bad enough – and look at the consequences. But Syria? And the entire Middle East? Is he out of his mind?

And can you think of a dumber war than this one?

The man who said he would never engage in a dumb war is apparently preparing to join the dumbest war since … well, Iraq.

My only hope right now is that we can somehow use our threat of intervention to maneuver some type of international peace keeping force while we try to bring both sides to a negotiating table.  And let us hope that President Obama knows to get Congress involved, gets a UN resolution and the Arab League to agree before we take any action.

Sullivan concludes

One reason I supported Obama so passionately in 2008 and 2012 was because I thought he understood this and had the spine to stand up to drama queens like McCain and armchair generals like William Jefferson Clinton. But it is beginning to appear that this president isn’t actually that strong. We voted for him … and he’s giving us Clinton’s and McCain’s foreign policy. If Cameron and Hollande want to pull another Suez, for Pete’s sake be Eisenhower – not Kennedy.

My cri de coeur is here. Don’t do it, Mr President. And don’t you dare involve us in another war without a full Congressional vote and national debate. That wouldn’t just be a mistake; it would be a betrayal.

Photograph:  AP

“No Drama Obama”

If I am not mistaken, that phrase first surfaced during the 2008 campaign to describe the lack of panic when Hillary Clinton won a string of smaller state primary elections.  People were panicking; the press was touting their new story about Clinton overcoming the Obama lead to take the nomination.  And Obama and his team just kept trucking along the planned path.  “No Drama Obama”.

President Obama during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

President Obama during a news conference in the Rose Garden at the White House, May 16, 2013, in Washington, D.C.

So here are three things to ponder in light of the recent “scandals”.  The first is from an Andrew Sullivan post on the Dish.

Former Obama speechwriter Jon Favreau describes how Obama handles scandals:

The handwringers and bed wetters in the D.C. punditocracy should know that Barack Obama will never be on their timeline. He does not value being first over being right. He will not spend his presidency chasing news cycles. He will not shake up his White House staff just because of some offhand advice offered to Politico by a longtime Washingtonian or a nameless Democrat who’s desperately trying to stay relevant. And if that means Dana Milbank thinks he’s too passive; if it means that Jim VandeHei will keep calling him arrogant and petulant; if it means that Chris Matthews will whine about him not enjoying the presidency, then so be it. He’ll live.

Favreau knows him as well as anyone – and that rings true. It’s also a deep political strength. Most mortals cannot manage that no-drama glide – I sure can’t. Hillary is more easily provoked into hunkering down rather than sailing through. What troubles me, though, is not that the IRS clusterfuck and the VA backlog are signs of malevolence, but rather that they are indications of a government that doesn’t work right. And no president should glide past that.

The real issue, the one people, particularly the Republicans, may be missing is that President Obama, unlike Bill Clinton, is not all that interested in the nuts and bolts of governing.  If this is true, than Sullivan is correct:  Obama either needs to get interested or he needs to find some staffers that are interested.  I think that federal agency responsibilities have just gotten too big.  I’m not saying that we don’t need government and services, but that it may be time for a real review of whether we can cut some of the older programs or change them to be incorporated as part of newer ones.  Maybe we need another Al Gore waste in government study.  Or the President needs to step up his search for duplicate programs and add reoranizing for great efficiency.

The second is the fact the the President’s approval ratings don’t seem to be going down despite the best efforts of Darrell Issa and his friends.  Nate Silver summarizes

Political coverage over the last week has focused on a series of stories that reflect negatively on the executive branch — but President Obama’s approval ratings have held steady. As of Monday, Mr. Obama’s Gallup approval rating was 49 percent — the same as it was, on average, in April. Mr. Obama’s Rasmussen Reports approval rating was 48 percent, not much changed from an average of 50 percent in April. Mr. Obama’s approval rating in a CNN poll published on Sunday was 53 percent, little different from 51 percent in their April survey. And in a Washington Post-ABC News poll, Mr. Obama’s approval rating was 51 percent, essentially unchanged from 50 percent in April.

There are a lot of theories as to why Mr. Obama’s approval ratings have been unchanged in the wake of these controversies, which some news accounts and many of Mr. Obama’s opponents are describing as scandals. But these analyses may proceed from the wrong premise if they assume that the stories have had no impact. It could be that the controversies are, in fact, putting some downward pressure on Mr. Obama’s approval ratings — but that the losses are offset by improved voter attitudes about the economy.

Silver includes this graph.

If Silver is correct then the Republicans have to hope that one of their darts hit home or that the economy really tanks.  I’m one who is cautiously optimistic that we will have an actual budget come October making the sequester cuts go away.  If I am right, then the economy should remain in decent shape and maybe people will start hiring with the uncertainty removed.

I close with a bit of humor from Andy Borowitz who questions the ability of the no drama approach to any real scandal.

President Obama’s handling of controversies about the I.R.S., the Justice Department, and Benghazi has raised “grave doubts” about his ability to cope if he ever became involved in an actual scandal, prominent Republicans said today.

“If this is how he handles this stuff, Lord have mercy on him if he ever has to deal with a real scandal,” said newly elected Rep. Mark Sanford (R-S. Carolina). “Quite frankly, I don’t think he has what it takes.”

“The true test of a leader is this,” Rep. Sanford added. “When he gets in a fix, does he have the presence of mind to lie about his whereabouts? Sadly, I don’t think President Obama passes that test.”

No one can say that Mark Sanford’s life has been without drama!

It is fine for the President to continue without drama as long as his plan includes a hard look at the bureaucracy.

Photograph of the President: Mark Wilson/Getty Images

About horses and bayonets and the 3rd debate

I’ll leave it to others to do more serious analysis of the debate which I think most agree was won by President Obama.  He certainly produced the most memorable response.

“But I think Governor Romney maybe hasn’t spent enough time looking at how our military works. You mentioned the Navy, for example, and that we have fewer ships than we did in 1916. Well, Governor, we also have fewer horses and bayonets, because the nature of our military’s changed. We have these things called aircraft carriers, where planes land on them. We have these ships that go underwater, nuclear submarines.”

Here are some of my favorite debate twitters thanks to Andrew Sullivan and the Daily Kos.

See that look in Mitt Romney‘s eyes. That’s the feeling a guy with $300 million has when he’s found something he can’t buy.

@LOLGOP via web

 

Mitt’s entire debate strategy: What he just said, but from a white guy — @billmaher via web
Hundreds of world leaders blowing up Obama’s phone texting “lol romney” right now.
@pourmecoffee via TweetDeck
Mitt Romney is sweating so much that it looks like he ran a sub-3 hour marathon.
@fbihop via TweetDeck
@acarvin

I had neither Horses nor Bayonets on my bingo card.

 

laura_hudson@laura_hudson

You guys realize that unicorns are basically horses with bayonets growing out of their heads, right?

 

And finally from Andrew Sullivan the meme of the debate

Tumblr_mcbrjjoDtR1r0vlz3o1_500

Eastwooding

No, I don’t tweet.  Sometimes I think it might be fun to do, but I don’t think fast enough to be clever.  But to save some time for people, I have complied some of the best tweets about Clint Eastwood’s empty chair rant/ramble last night at the Republican convention.  I was inspired by an article posted this afternoon on the Nation by Ilyse Hogue, Anatomy of a meme

Surprise guest, Eastwood, was reportedly given three minutes to speak, but spent the better part of fifteen minutes of prime time coverage ranting at an empty chair that was supposed to be an invisible President Obama. Pain was visible on the faces of candidate and campaign operative alike as it became clear that these confused ravings of the famous octogenarian were going to be the stand out performance from an otherwise carefully orchestrated week.

And that it is. Within moments of Eastwood’s start, @InvisibleObama had a twitter account with a picture of an empty chair. By the end of the speech, the chair had almost 17,000 followers. It now has 48,000.

Even the President got in the fun when his twitter account posted a picture of the back of the President sitting is his chair, with the tag line “This seat’s taken.”

In my opinion, the most succinct and spot-on insight came from a Jamelle Bouie tweet, “”This is a perfect representation of the campaign: an old white man arguing with an imaginary Barack Obama.” 

And here are some more taken from Hogue’s article.

Zach Braff:  Now all my chairs want to be interviewed too.

FastLaugh:  Give Clint Eastwood a break… The RNC asked him to speak about ObamaCare and he thought they said ObamaChair…

Bob Newhart:  I heard that Clint Eastwood was channeling me at the RNC. My lawyers and I are drafting our lawsuit…

Josh Rogin

This from Andrew Sullivan’s blog

Screen shot 2012-08-30 at 10.31.30 PM

And Jed Lewison at the Daily Kos comments

Empty chair

Rumor has it that Mitt loved Clint’s empty chair routine so much that now he wants to do it in the Caymans
 
I wonder what surprise the Democrats have in store for us next week.  Looking forward to it.
 
 
 

The President and Gay Marriage

The commentators are in full flower.  “This is a great move.”  “It is risky.”  “This could cost him the election.”  What does it really mean?  We won’t know until the election in November, but we can try to bring some clarity to some of the noise.

Photograph by Pete Souza

We know that many of those who oppose gay marriage for religious or other grounds will never be convinced, but I expect that some will come around to saying something like “I personally don’t support gay marriage, but as a matter of rights, people should be able to choose.”  Kind of like what many Democrats have said about abortion.  But the majority of the opposition will remain opposed. 

Some will say this was a cynical move on the part of the President to solidify his gay and lesbian supporter.  I don’t think so.  Richard Socarides wrote in the New Yorker

For a long time, Democrats have taken the gay vote for granted. Political consultants tell Democrats that gay and lesbian voters have nowhere else to go, and thus, in effect, can be counted on, so long as politicians pay lip service to the issue. But that is old thinking, out of touch with the new reality of the gay-rights movement. While I know that most gays and lesbians would have supported President Obama, both with their votes and with their financial contributions, no matter what he did on the issue of marriage equality, we were also not going to take “no” for an answer on the most important civil-rights issue of our day. That meant holding the President’s feet to the fire—first on the repeal of Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, and then on marriage equality.

What we do know is that this was an act of courage and leadership.  President Obama may be part of the tide rising toward marriage equality, but he is part of the leading edge.  Andrew Sullivan

I do not know how orchestrated this was; and I do not know how calculated it is. What I know is that, absorbing the news, I was uncharacteristically at a loss for words for a while, didn’t know what to write, and, like many Dish readers, there are tears in my eyes.

The interview changes no laws; it has no tangible effect. But it reaffirms for me the integrity of this man we are immensely lucky to have in the White House. Obama’s journey on this has been like that of many other Americans, when faced with the actual reality of gay lives and gay relationships. Yes, there was politics in a lot of it. But not all of it. I was in the room long before the 2008 primaries when Obama spoke to the mother of a gay son about marriage equality. He said he was for equality, but not marriage. Five years later, he sees – as we all see – that you cannot have one without the other. But even then, you knew he saw that woman’s son as his equal as a citizen. It was a moment – way off the record at the time – that clinched my support for him.

Today Obama did more than make a logical step. He let go of fear. He is clearly prepared to let the political chips fall as they may. That’s why we elected him. That’s the change we believed in. The contrast with a candidate who wants to abolish all rights for gay couples by amending the federal constitution, and who has donated to organizations that seek to “cure” gays, who bowed to pressure from bigots who demanded the head of a spokesman on foreign policy solely because he was gay: how much starker can it get?

Both Sullivan and Socarides do believe that in the long run, this will not hurt Obama’s reelection chances.  Sullivan first

My view politically is that this will help Obama. He will be looking to the future generations as his opponent panders to the past. The clearer the choice this year the likelier his victory. And after the darkness of last night, this feels like a widening dawn.

Then Socarides

This is not to take anything away from the courage exhibited by President Obama today. His willingness to share with the American people his thinking, indeed, his struggle around this issue will help build a national consensus. Everyone is entitled to a journey on this issue.

I suspect that at the end of this national conversation the result will be a good one, and the process, including Obama’s painstakingly slow evolution, will have been a positive experience for the country. Hopefully, it will lead us in a positive direction—which, after all, is the job of a President.

This is a conversation that is just beginning and we owe the President a conversation that is at once passionate and reasoned.  Let me end with this from him

This is something that, you know, we’ve talked about over the years and she, you know, she feels the same way, she feels the same way that I do. And that is that, in the end the values that I care most deeply about and she cares most deeply about is how we treat other people and, you know, I, you know, we are both practicing Christians and obviously this position may be considered to put us at odds with the views of others but, you know, when we think about our faith, the thing at root that we think about is, not only Christ sacrificing himself on our behalf, but it’s also the Golden Rule, you know, treat others the way you would want to be treated. And I think that’s what we try to impart to our kids and that’s what motivates me as president, and I figure the most consistent I can be in being true to those precepts, the better I’ll be as a dad and a husband and, hopefully, the better I’ll be as president.

 

Obama and Gingrich: The Cool and the Hot

South Carolina is over and Newt Gingrich is the winner – the big winner.  Some are predicting that Mitt Romney can’t come back from this self-inflicted near death experience, that he doesn’t have the personal or political skills to fix the way he has handled the non-release of his tax returns.  (Note to Mitt:  So your 2011 returns aren’t ready yet.  Just release the last 5 or 6 years.)  Romney’s saving grace may be Florida where there has been early voting and a lot of Republicans (this is a closed primary) and many have voted before all this drama.  Since Romney has been working to get his folks out, maybe that will save him, but if it is Newt who ends up the nominee, is it bad for the President’s reelection?

My husband thinks that Newt is dangerous and could get enough people to buy into what he is saying to prevail.  I think it will be a hard election no matter who the Republican nominee is but one thing is for certain – if it is Obama and Gingrich the contract in styles will be stark.  Gingrich is a bomb-thrower while the President is calm and methodical.  Roger Simon writing in Politico this morning says “Anger, umbrage and bitterness are so much a part of Gingrich’s public persona that he likes to attack the very concept of happiness.”  In contrast you have the President playing what Andrew Sullivan calls “the long game.”    (Sullivan’s long article for Newsweek is well worth reading no matter which side you are on.)

Simon goes on to say

Gingrich, like other candidates for the Republican nomination, has a fondness for quoting the Founding Fathers, but he now says that when they wrote “life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness” in the Declaration of Independence, it did not mean what we think it means.

“Happiness in the 18th century meant wisdom and virtue, not hedonism,” Gingrich says without a scintilla of embarrassment, even though he, himself, has pursued a fair amount of hedonism in his lifetime.

And they promised us the right to pursue,” Gingrich continues. “There is no provision for a Department of Happiness. They issued no happiness stamps. And if you said that you were going to take happiness from some and distribute it to others, the Founding Fathers would have asked by what right?”

So if we don’t have happiness to look forward to, what does Gingrich offer?

Work. Effort. Struggle.

“Work is something you need,” Gingrich says. “I don’t think it’s inappropriate for a 12- or 13-year-old to push a mop.

Americans don’t want sunshine, lollipops and rainbows. They want blood, toil, tears and sweat. They want a dependably gloomy man in the Oval Office. They want Newt!
 
Newt Gingrich gives his victory speech in S.C. | Reuters
 
 
This is a man with big ideas.  Remember the Contract with America?  Gingrich is not a patient man and I understand that his campaign is not well organized.  Look at his failure to get on the ballot in his new home state of Virginia.  He has also said he wants to be able to haul judges before Congress to testify if they make rulings he doesn’t like.  This doesn’t bode well for District Judge John A. Gibney if Gingrich gets elected.  Gibney issued the ruling denying Perry, Gingrich, Santorum and Huntsman access to the Virginia Republican Primary ballot. 
 
Will Gingrich’s anger continue to play well?  Will the American voters in November, assuming he is the nominee, want a President who is angry? 
 
On the other hand, the President has a style that may be difficult to sell for another term.  He plays what Andrew Sullivan calls the long game.   
it remains simply a fact that Obama has delivered in a way that the unhinged right and purist left have yet to understand or absorb. Their short-term outbursts have missed Obama’s long game—and why his reelection remains, in my view, as essential for this country’s future as his original election in 2008.
Sullivan goes on to talk about why it seems to take the President so long to do things.
 

What liberals have never understood about Obama is that he practices a show-don’t-tell, long-game form of domestic politics. What matters to him is what he can get done, not what he can immediately take credit for. And so I railed against him for the better part of two years for dragging his feet on gay issues. But what he was doing was getting his Republican defense secretary and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs to move before he did. The man who made the case for repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” was, in the end, Adm. Mike Mullen. This took time—as did his painstaking change in the rule barring HIV-positive immigrants and tourists—but the slow and deliberate and unprovocative manner in which it was accomplished made the changes more durable. Not for the first time, I realized that to understand Obama, you have to take the long view. Because he does.

And last week we got another example of the President’s style in the proposed reorganization of the six agencies that deal with business.  Joe Davidson had an interesting piece in his Federal Diary column in the Washington Post.

When President Obama detailed proposals to reorganize and streamline certain government functions last week, some folks wanted to know why it took nearly a year to develop the plan.

One reason is the involvement of federal employees.

No, they didn’t gum up the bureaucracy or sit on their hands or hinder progress, as is too often the unfair and inaccurate caricature of government workers.

Instead, they were a valuable part of a long process leading to Obama’s announcement that six agencies dealing with business and trade would be consolidated into what is now the Commerce Department. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), which takes the largest part of Commerce’s budget and includes the National Weather Service, would move to the Interior Department.

The reorganization proposal, which must be approved by Congress, took time, Jeffrey D. Zients, the administration’s chief performance officer, told reporters last week. “We talked to hundreds of businesses, reached out to federal employees,” he said. “This is very rigorous work, and we wanted to make sure we got it right.”

So now, the employees of the agencies concerned have a stake in what happens.  It is all about buy in. 

If November is Gingrich v. Obama we will have a clear contrast in styles.  I wonder if Gingrich sings.

 

President Barack Obama at the Apollo Theater on Thursday The President at the Apollo Theater

Photo: Shahar Azran/WireImage

Obama sings. Maybe that is the President’s secret weapon.