Quote of the Day

As you’ve no doubt heard, there was an earthquake in Virginia this afternoon, which sent tremors felt hundreds of miles away. The latest estimate shows it was a 5.8-magnitude earthquake, and initial damage reports suggest nothing serious happened.

But given the larger political world, apparently every story is a political story. Here’s Politico‘s Roger Simon on Twitter:

Now, it’s certainly possible that Simon is just joking around. He put the word “seriously” in there, which suggests the sentiment was sincere, but maybe this was all just tongue-in-cheek. On Twitter, it’s sometimes tough to tell. (Far-right bloggers complained about the president vacationing during an earthquake, and they seemed quite serious.)

But whether Simon was kidding or not, I get the sense this sentiment actually exists a little too often. Sure, as natural disasters go, this one doesn’t qualify as a disaster at all, and it doesn’t appear there’s anything for FEMA to actually do, but there’s an expectation in some circles that the president should put on a little show for everyone. Obama should “pretend to be doing something,” not because something needs to be done, but because it would satisfy some psychological need the media establishment feels should be met.

I really hope Simon was just joking, but the fact that we can’t be sure isn’t a good sign.

Indeed, it speaks to the bizarre expectations pundits too often apply to Obama. This happened last year when a variety of media personalities made it seem as if the president was to blame for the BP oil spill lasting as long as it did — as if Obama was supposed to put on a bodysuit, strap on an oxygen tank, grab some sheet metal, and get to work.

There are a lot of things lacking in American politics; maturity is high on the list.

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Steve Benen

Steve Benen is a producer at MSNBC's The Rachel Maddow Show. He was the principal contributor to the Washington Monthly's Political Animal blog from August 2008 until January 2012.