"The biggest problem for me is being in the bubble," President Obama told Fox News Channel's Bill O'Reilly on Super Bowl Sunday. "Over time, you know, what happens is you feel like--that you're not able to just have a spontaneous conversation with folks."
The greater peril of the presidential bubble may be what happens when you do have a spontaneous conversation with folks. If you're not careful, you end up saying things that show how out of touch you are with folks.
At a town-hall meeting yesterday in Fairless Hills, Pa., a man in the audience asked Obama about gasoline prices, which are currently in the range of $4 a gallon. According to the Associated Press, Obama responded "laughingly" and "needled" the questioner. The president's sarcasm comes through in the White House transcript:
***** QUOTE *****
I know some of these big guys, they're all still driving their big SUVs. You know, they got their big monster trucks and everything. You're one of them? Well, now, here's my point. If you're complaining about the price of gas and you're only getting eight miles a gallon--(laughter)--you may have a big family, but it's probably not that big. How many you have? Ten kids, you say? Ten kids? (Laughter.) Well, you definitely need a hybrid van then. (Laughter.) . . .
So, like I said, if you're getting eight miles a gallon you may want to think about a trade-in. You can get a great deal. I promise you, GM or Ford or Chrysler, they're going to be happy to give you a deal on something that gets you better gas mileage.
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The transcript shows that Obama got lots of laughs. But presumably he was speaking to a friendly audience--to people who regard the burning of gasoline as sinful and who, at least in theory, are attracted to the idea of $8-a-gallon gasoline.