A staple of media coaching is the following: "When a reporter tosses a loaded negative question your way — Diffuse it with four simple words: Never Repeat a Negative."
In his 60 Minutes interview Sunday night -- transcript at CBS, not the White House website -- the president disregarded that advice. Steve Kroft asked him about Afghanistan:
KROFT: Do you feel like you've staked your Presidency on it?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Oh, I think that given the number of things that I've had to deal with since I came into office, there are a whole bunch of things that I've staked my Presidency on. Right? That we can bring about an economic recovery that produces jobs in this country and gets us back on track towards a path of prosperity. Making sure that we end the war in Iraq in a way that stabilizes that country and is true to the sacrifices of the troops that we've sent over there and the enormous amount of resources that we've spent. Making sure that we get Afghanistan right. Making sure that over the long term we're able to deal with our federal budgets in a fiscally responsible way.
It will be bad enough if Afghanistan goes bad or the deficit remains high. Now his opponents will be able to say that he staked his presidency on these things.