Can't? Or won't?

Many people are reacting to President Obama's latest encounter with a fly; the incident caused Ann Althouse to "reminisce about the time when Obama seemed to have superhuman power."

Ditto here. Well maybe microditto. Certainly it is beyond dispute that our president did once have the power to swat flies....

Now, our president (whom a close associate calls "henpecked" and others call "snakebit") appears to be downright tyrannized by them:


As I don't like to ridicule people over minor mishaps, I might normally be inclined to feel sorry for the president, because something like that could have happened to anyone.

But I can't help wondering about his current inability to swat the fly. Hell, even the New York Times sees this as occasion for ridicule, and they cite the previous incident which got him in trouble.

He may be the commander in chief, but President Obama apparently has no power to control a lowly fly.

During an event on Tuesday in the East Room of the White House to promote his new health care law, Mr. Obama was repeatedly pestered by the fly. He swatted away at it, to no avail.

"Get out of here,'' the president instructed the fly, provoking laughter from the audience. He added, "You've seen me grab one of those before.''

Indeed, it was only the latest fly-swatting incident at the White House. During an interview a year ago with our colleague John Harwood of The Times and CNBC, Mr. Obama ordered a fly to "get out of here" and ultimately killed the insect, drawing the ire of animal rights activists.

So my question is, what might explain the formerly fearless president's current display of apparent "incompetence"? Might it stem from fear? Exactly why would he mischaracterize what he did in the past by saying "You've seen me grab one of those before," instead of ""You've seen me kill one of those before"?

When he swatted and killed a fly -- exactly a year ago (what a difference a year makes!), he was excoriated for it by animal rights activists like PETA, and I defended him here.

But his current conduct -- when coupled with his choice of language in characterizing what happened last year -- forces me to wonder about something...

Do we now have a president who won't hurt a fly?

Or do we have a president who can't hurt a fly?

posted by Eric on 06.23.10 at 07:51 PM


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