Andrew Breitbart’s

Today on Fox Nation they are featuring a story on whether President Obama’s advisor, David Axelrod, is losing control of the President’s image. The headline is accompanied by a photo collage of what the Fox Nationalists must think are silly pictures, but which most people would regard as human pictures.

What’s truly silly about this is that the item links to an article at Andrew Breitbart’s BigGovernment web site that expounds at length on what a terrible job of image building the White House is doing. The author, Kristinn Taylor, is appalled by what he regards as inadequate visual communications:

“Richard Nixon had advertising executive H.R. Haldeman; Ronald Reagan had image master Mike Deaver; Barack Obama has public relations guru David Axelrod.

“All three men understood the power of visuals in communicating the strengths of the presidents they served on the campaign trail and in the office of the presidency.

“I don’t know where David Axelrod has been since President Obama began his ten-day Christmas vacation in Hawaii, but it is safe to say he is goofing off as much as his boss.”

Taylor goes on to lament that the Obama team has…

“…failed in their most basic duty of reassuring the American public that the president is on the job.”

First of all, it is rather revealing that right-wingers like Taylor, and his boss Breitbart, so openly revere the manipulative art of public relations. The fact that they regard the most basic duty of presidential staff as providing pictorial reassurances that the President is on the job, as opposed to helping the President to actually get the job done, says a great deal about the Breitbart philosophy.

These are a breed of propagandists whose heroes are masters of deception like Haldeman, Deaver, and Fox News CEO Roger Ailes. And they are not in the least embarrassed to admit their preference for style and appearances over substance. That is the cornerstone of conservative leadership for decades. Reagan’s tough-guy, movie hero persona was thoroughly manufactured by PR professionals, as was Bush, Jr.’s cowboy everyman. Taylor’s article reinforces this superficial approach to public service and criticizes the Obama administration for not being sufficiently shallow.

It is also interesting to note that the complaint made by Taylor and company contradicts previous conservative complaints that this White House has been preoccupied with image. They never seem to tire of lame jokes about the President’s use of TelePrompters, or his photo-ops with the troops. On those occasions the President was being disingenuous for exploiting imagery. His aides were cynically attempting to manipulate the public, and were considered dishonorable for doing so. But now they are accused of failing in that “most basic duty” by not performing it.

I suppose it might be too much to expect Breitbart’s crew to refrain from hypocrisy. Taylor complained that it took four days for the White House to post a picture of the President on the phone. Oh my stars, someone get the smelling salts. In fact that wasn’t even true. There were many pictures of the President working, just not the ones Taylor cared to notice. He was too busy whimpering about presidential tiewear or the price of his hotel room.

In the end, as with most matters concerning this president, Obama cannot win. He is damned if he uses PR effectively, and he is damned if he doesn’t use it all. As Hillary Clinton once said, if he were to walk on water his critics would gripe that he can’t swim. But even more disturbing to me is the lust these people have for phoniness. They celebrate it and curse those who fail to worship it as they do. There is a place for reasonable image-making. But clearly the right has taken it way too far.