You've heard it a lot. Barack Obama describes the economic crisis by accusing Republicans of driving the nation's economy into the ditch and then sitting back and watching — “sippin' on a Slurpee” — while Obama and the Democrats did the dirty, exhausting work of pulling the car out of the ditch.
Recently, Obama used the Slurpee line at a rally with the First Lady at Ohio State on the 17th. At a fundraiser for Ohio Gov. Ted Strickland the same day. At a rally for Massachusetts Gov. Deval Patrick on the 16th. At a rally for Delaware Senate candidate Chris Coons on the 15th. At a fundraiser in Miami on the 11th. At a DNC rally in Philadelphia on the 10th. At a fundraiser in Chicago on the 7th. At a rally in Maryland on the same day. And so on. (The president seems to always use the image at big rallies, but not always at the high-dollar intimate fundraisers he also attends.)
Many people began rolling their eyes at, say, the 10th time they heard the Slurpee story. And on Tuesday, a reporter asked White House spokesman Robert Gibbs about it. Why Slurpees? Gibbs didn't have a lot to say.
“I don't actually think the president thinks they're drinking a lot of Slurpees,” Gibbs said. “But I think the president uses it as a metaphor for the role that Republicans have thus far played.” (In a September 21 briefing, Gibbs was asked “What's the deal between the president and Slurpees?” but did not have an answer.)
So on Wednesday evening the president appeared at a rally for Democrats at the Portland Convention Center in Oregon. And he told the ditch story, but this time without the Slurpees.
Oregon, imagine the Republicans driving a car into the ditch. And it’s a deep ditch. And so we decided, well, we got to go get that car out of the ditch. And so me and Wyden and Merkley and Wu and Blumenauer and the Democrats, we went down there, we put on our boots. It was muddy down there. It’s hot. There are bugs everywhere. But we knew we had to get that car out of the ditch. So we start pushing on that car. We start pushing and pushing. And every once in a while we look and the Republicans are up there, just standing there. Not lifting a finger. And we — and we tell them, why don't you come down and help because you all got the car into the ditch? They say, no, that's all right, but you need to push harder. You're not pushing the right way. So we just kept on pushing. And finally we get this car up on level ground. Finally, it’s pointing in the right direction. It’s a little — it’s a little banged up. It needs to go to the body shop. It needs a tune-up. But we’re pointed in the right direction. And suddenly, we get this tap on our shoulder, and we look back and who is it? It’s the Republicans. And they're saying to us, Oregon, we want the keys back. And we got to tell them, you can’t have the keys back because you don't know how to drive. You don't know!
Car. Ditch. Republicans. No Slurpees. The White House can be very responsive to even the slightest hint of press disapproval. Many come from the pro-Obama side of things — that means if they are growing tired of something, perhaps everyone else is, too. So perhaps there's hope that we've heard the Slurpee story for the last time. In the next speech, when the car is in the ditch, maybe Republicans will be sipping on a martini.