President Barack Obama’s year-old administration is back on track this week, after the advent of new federal rules that bar texting while presidenting.
The January 25 rulemaking modifies a 2002 regulation issued by the Bureau of Inertia that required commanders-in-chief spend at least 10 hours a day on the then-new social media websites such as Friendster and Cyworld. President George W. Bush put the rule to good use immediately in 2002, logging on at AsianAvenue.com (now AsianAve) to apologize to China for laws of physics that allowed a U.S. surveillance plane to become airborne, collide with a People’s Liberation Army interceptor jet, and crash land on Hainan Island.
“This change brings federal regulations into line with what we now know — that while it can be a convenient and fun way to communicate, texting is a significant distraction. It takes a president’s eyes off the road ahead and affects reaction time,” said Michele Obama of the powerful White House Office of Michele Policy. She gave reporters several examples of the effect of distracted presidenting, including President Obama’s decision to let Congress take the lead on health care reform, forgetting to end Don’t Ask Don’t Tell during 2009, and the entire eight years of the Bush administration.
The benefits of the texting restriction were readily seen last week, as the president was persuasive and on-message for his first State of the Union address Wednesday. Then on Friday at the House Republicans Retreat he was focused, and did not shy from pointing out inconsistencies and factual errors in critics’ arguments. “OMG- BHO totes pwned us. C me n Billo face on Factor 2nite,” Minority Whip Eric Cantor acknowledged to his Twitter followers.
Old habits can be hard to break, however. President Obama picked up his Blackberry on Saturday while taking in the Georgetown-Duke basketball game. As a result of the distraction, he failed to take preemptive action to prevent television coverage of Rush Limbaugh dancing at Sunday’s Miss America pageant.
In other news, conservative Tea Party activists outraged over Senator-elect Scott Brown’s support for Roe v. Wade were frustrated today in their efforts to lynch Brown in effigy using teabag strings.