It’s a tough pill to swallow for anyone to learn that people just don’t want to be seen with you. It hurts. When they go so far as to stay hundreds of miles away to avoid being publicly in your presence, that’s even more painful. When the person avoiding you is a sitting U.S. Senator in your own party up for reelection and you’re the President of the United States, that’s downright humiliating.
Yet that’s exactly what happened to President Obama yesterday when North Carolina Senator Kay Hagan elected to remain in Washington for “official business” rather than join President Obama for a public appearance in her home state.
Now who is Kay kidding? In Harry Reid’s Senate, there is no real “business” to do. Let me rephrase that. There is plenty to do, but Majority Leader Reid prefers not to bother getting it done. If you visited the Senate today, you’d probably see stacks of bills from the House waiting to be acted upon. So unless Senator Hagan had a ribbon cutting or a Senate hearing on a matter of grave and urgent national importance to attend to, it’s highly doubtful that she had enough important “business” to keep her from the side of Barack Obama if she wanted to be there yesterday.
It’s kind of like getting turned down for a date to the prom and finding out later that the girl you asked chose instead to stay home and paint her nails and watch television. Surely, it’s not a good feeling.
And c’mon . . . he’s the President of the United States! Who wouldn’t want the opportunity to stand next to the leader of the free world? If that didn’t knock your socks off, there’s always the ride on Air Force one to impress you. I’ve had friends take it, and they always come home with packages of Air Force One peanuts or an Air Force One cocktail napkin to frame. (Is it illegal to take those things? Hmm . . . I hope not. Well, I’m not naming any names).
While there are a few dictators in places like North Korea that you couldn’t pay me money to appear with in public, there are plenty of people I’m not particularly fond of that I could still stomach being seen with.
For example, I’m cheering for Peyton Manning and the Broncos this weekend, but you certainly wouldn’t have to twist my arm for me to be seen with New England Patriots QB Tom Brady. I’m not a fan, but I’d still do it.
The painful truth is that Kay Hagan doesn’t want to be seen with Obama because he’s becoming increasingly unpopular in her state, and she sees the association with him as a political liability. Her own approval rating currently stands at a dismal 39%, so she’s in no position to make matters worse by hanging out with the president who’s likely more unpopular there right now.
For Obama, this is a clear case of old fashioned rejection and that always hurts. Everyone handles rejection differently. Some people remain stoic and brush it off and never let on that they care. That’s generally a good tactic to take because it means people can only assume you’re offended or upset. They can never totally pin that on you.
Unfortunately, Obama seems to have chosen the other option which (aside from standing up and calling the offending party every name in the book) is the approach taken often but usually regretted later.
It’s the passive aggressive approach. It’s the “I’ll show you approach. You don’t want to be seen with me? You’ll be very sorry.”
At the beginning of his remarks yesterday, Obama did everything he could think of to put Kay Hagan there and associate her with him outside of baring his chest and revealing a Kay Hagan tattoo with a heart through it.
He began his remarks by saying, “Senator Kay Hagan couldn’t be here, but I wanted to thank her—publicly—for the great work she’s been doing.”
That’ll teach her.