Shedding a tear for Los Angelenos stuck in a traffic jam is like holding a candlelight vigil for Tila Tequila after she got pelted with feces at the Gathering of the Juggalos: It more or less comes with the territory and, if not exactly predictable, should at least be expected.
Yet a major August 16 gridlock in L.A., caused by President Obama’s visit to the home of West Wing producer John Wells in the Hancock Park area – which barely made a news blip outside the city’s environs – is being held up by Hollywood showbiz blog The Wrap as being all-too-indicative evidence of Obama’s sense of self-importance.
“No Explanation -- or Apology -- for Obama’s L.A. Gridlock Nightmare,” whined The Wrap yesterday. The piece, by Hunter Walker – a followup to his own “President Obama Owes Los Angeles a Big Apology” post on Monday – reads like a bad parody of the Odyssey, wherein the crusading Walker dutifully delineates his efforts at finding a scapegoat for the Obama-caused snarl: Wells, the Democratic Congressional Campaign Committee, a Deputy White House Press Secretary, the L.A. mayor’s associate director for transportation, the LAPD, and the Secret Service all either refer him to one of the others, or simply decline to comment (doubtlessly wondering, “What’s this guy’s problem?”)
Granted, no one wants to be trapped in a three-hour traffic jam, which occurred when it was decided that the Obama visit necessitated closing long stretches of Olympic Boulevard, one of the city’s major east-west roadways. Yet it’s hard to believe that such a move wasn’t widely disseminated by the city’s media; after all, “gridlock alerts” have become commonplace in New York City, and the practice of shutting down major avenues – and in Manhattan, they’re all major – for a Presidential visit are always well-covered in advance. (An old TV commercial for talk radio station 1010 WINS found a concerned taxi passenger wondering, “Is Clinton in town?”)
Most coverage of Obama’s L.A. trip has centered on the fact that he raised about $1 million for the DCCC; any negative commentary has been of the usual “fiddling while Rome burns” variety that crops up whenever a sitting president – Democrat or Republican -- is perceived to be rolling in dough while the working man gets the shaft. Much of the Los Angeles Times’ coverage has been in that vein, though its August 17 story did note in passing that the LAPD “had received several calls from people about the traffic and that the Secret Service had not shared street-closure information with the department.”
Even The American Spectator’s Robert Stacy McCain devoted a mere 265 words to the episode, though 105 of those were quoting Walker’s original hysterical live-blog post. “Will irritated Los Angeles commuters remember this Obama-induced traffic nightmare for 11 weeks and hold Democrats accountable in November?” McCain concluded.
Not likely … unless, of course, Walker continues his daily demands for an “apology.” I’m not sure how many people read Walker on a regular basis, but the fact that his bloviating is taking place within the confines of The Wrap – very much the junior competitor to Deadline.com – is probably enough to deflect too much attention. (Wells’ inclusion in the story is the sole, tenuous connection to the TV industry that Walker’s ostensibly supposed to be covering, under the wince-inducingly nonsensical standing head “TV Walker.”)
The Wrap is not above trying to manipulate the media into getting more page-views; its editor, Sharon Waxman, got into a pissing match with Newser’s Michael Wolff earlier this year over the proper means of aggregating news, a fight that predictably went nowhere in part because it’s nigh impossible to sympathize with either side. Still, it should be interesting to see just how long they’ll let Walker (who, at 25, really should know better) continue to seek his “apology” before deciding he’s finally embarrassed himself – and the site -- enough.
“Is it just us, or does the Obama administration have a major domestic travel problem?” Walker wonders in yesterday’s lede.
I think it’s just you, bub.