An old show business adage is that bad publicity is better than no publicity at all. In politics a corollary of that adage is that you never openly acknowledge the power of your opponents.
This holds double from the POTUS. When Obama demonizes Rush Limbaugh from the highest of the bully pulpits, he infuses him with a power he did not have before that moment. America still loves an underdog; it is one reason Obama won. You can run as an underdog, but you cannot successfully govern as one.
But now he is no underdog and to put a name and a face on the enemy is foolish and unprofessional. If he had left his amateurish mistake at Rush Limbaugh it would have been soon forgotten.
But now he has demonized an entire network. You may or may not like Fox News, but for the POTUS to single handedly determine Fox News is not a legitimate news organization and to block it from critical coverage crosses a line from clumsy politics to threatening a free press.
Unlike demonizing Rush, demonizing Fox may also threaten their sponsors. How far of a stretch is it from boycotting Fox to boycotting their sponsors. How easy would it be to use such power to squelch any political opposition?
This is dangerous territory. Even my most liberal friends should consider how they would react if their conservative counterparts wielded such power. Never bestow power in a political entity that you would not want in the hands of your worst nightmare.
Unlike Rush which is largely followed ONLY by the party faithful, Fox has a large number of independent viewers. To demonize Fox is to demonize their viewers. This could be a very costly political mistake. Fox viewers cover a much bigger demographic content than Rush. Plus this attack imbues Fox with a very powerful position as the only network willing to stand up to the president.
But possibly worse than demonizing Rush and Fox is openly criticizing the U.S Chamber of Commerce. Not only has the Chamber supported some Obama initiatives, but their membership includes many Democrats as well as independents. He now risks alienating his own party members.
Obama stands to die the political death of a thousand cuts, mostly self inflicted. Every controversial bill, which seems to be about all of them, has whittled away the support he enjoyed on inauguration day. To demonize media critics, and institutions as American as apple pie, is to distance himself so far from the mainstream that he may not recover.
To be happy you need friends; to be successful you need enemies. Obama’s amateurish statements stand to make his enemies successful.