Patti LaBelle Tells Obama 'Baby You've Got Swag," Maureen Dowd Begs to Differ
Patti LaBelle Tells Obama ‘Baby You’ve Got Swag,” Maureen Dowd Begs to Differ

R&B legend Patti LaBelle made the New York Times via Maureen Dowd’s column when she said “Baby, you’ve got swag,” during her performance at “Women of Soul” concert at the White House, leading up to President Obama bungling the name Aretha Franklin’s signature song R-E-S-P-E-C-T . His version was R-S-P-E-C-T — a Dan Quayle moment.

Dowd tied in LaBelle’s remark to Obama’s handling of the Ukraine crisis and domestic issues. She also went after Sarah Palin for saying he wears ‘mom jeans.’ She writes, “actually, the jeans the president wore in the Oval Office, talking to Putin on the phone last weekend, looked good.”

Swag and respect are exactly what the president needs. He’s got a swag gap with Russia. His administration, after belatedly figuring out what was going on in Ukraine, is improvising as the uber-swaggering Vladimir Putin once more rolls in with tanks anywhere he likes.


He’s doing what seems appropriate at this point — putting a ban on U.S. visas, imposing financial sanctions on “individuals and entities” responsible for Russia’s invasion of Crimea, and trying to horse-whisper the Botoxed, bare-chested man on horseback whose eyes read “K.G.B.,” as John McCain likes to say.

Dowd seemed more concerned with President Obama’s domestic policies. Not with his inability to contain Vladimir Putin from invading yet another country.

Even after Democrats changed the filibuster rule and rigged the game in the Senate to get nominees through on a majority vote, the White House got whacked over its nominee to lead the Justice Department’s civil rights division.

Bryan Cranston has said he hopes Obama comes to see his new L.B.J. play on Broadway to learn a little about horse-trading. The sooner, the better. The president and Harry Reid upended the entire Senate to get people like Debo Adegbile through, and they couldn’t get him through — and in the area of civil rights, so crucial to Obama’s legacy.

Obama called the defeat “a travesty,” but the White House seemed oblivious to the fact that they were putting Democratic senators in red states in a squeeze between the Fraternal Order of Police and civil rights groups. Adegbile had worked on an N.A.A.C.P. legal team that filed a Supreme Court brief in the case of Mumia Abu-Jamal, a writer and former Black Panther convicted in the 1981 killing of a Philadelphia police officer, Daniel Faulkner. Abu-Jamal called himself a political prisoner and turned into such an international cause célèbre that a Paris suburb named a street for him.

If Obama was determined to choose Adegbile, his team needed to sell him adeptly and promptly. But Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania said there were still “open wounds” about Faulkner in his state, and by the time Casey and six other Democrats began to run away, it was too late.

I have long asked how does one run two virtually impeccable presidential campaigns, yet manage to come across as dithering and feckless on key issues confronting his administration? Don’t get me wrong, the Republicans have obstructed along the way every chance they get, but the president’s handling of the Syrian crisis, red-lines and all, left me shaking me head.>