A visit from the president is always a big deal among us media-types as well as fans and haters alike who all hoped to get a glimpse of the commander-in-chief on his trip to Edison today.
But Obama became GObama when he bypassed gathered reporters at Newark Airport without taking any questions or making any statements, despite an invitation from White House communications staff for reporters to attend “the arrival.” But the president did not get within 50 feet of reporters before boarding his chopper and heading to Edison to eat a sub.
Once he got to Tastee Sub Shop, his visit was closed to spectators and was covered only by a pool reporter, who fed copy to the rest of the media. The reporter, former PolitickerNJ star and current Star Ledger statehouse reporter Matt Friedman, worked with what he was given by Obama’s handlers, but as a reporter and more importantly as a constituent, I don’t care what he ordered for lunch or how big his sub really is. Yet that’s what the White House gave us. The pool was ushered out of the sub shop before any of the work began. The heavily scripted visit continued.
As the country recovers from a recession, continues to fight two wars, fights near-double digit unemployment and faces a continuing wave of home foreclosures, I want to hear what the president says, not what he ordered for lunch. After leaving his lunch stop, the president spoke for 7 minutes from prepared notes, took no questions, and again boarded Marine One to head to a taping of The View.
The strange appearance follows more than a week of planning that had NJ officials privately stewing as the governor and even local officials were not invited to Edison and many waited until yesterday to find out if they would see the president at all. Even some Democratic sources complained that the president snubbed them on his first visit since last year when he was stumping for former Governor Jon Corzine.