Through most of his inaugural primetime press conference, Barack Obama seemed like he was channeling a particularly loquacious combination of Joe Biden, Bill Clinton, and the ghost of Hubert Humphrey. The president's response to the first question from the Associated Press about the risks of sounding too apocalyptic about the economy ran (or, to be more accurate, crawled) for nearly 1,200 words--and ended with Obama saying "Okay" with an implicit question mark as if he were requesting permission to keep on talking. A national poll from the Pew Research Center released Monday afternoon found that 92 percent of Americans described Obama as a "good communicator." There is a suspicion that those astronomic numbers had dipped by the time that Obama exited from the East Room of the White House at 9 p.m. on the dot.
In Obama's defense, the press conference was the first extended glimpse that many Americans had of their new president since the Inaugural Address. No one can deny the complexity of the economic challenges facing the nation--and President Obama is uniquely equipped to play Explainer in Chief. But Obama radiated the sense of a leader who has digested too many economic briefings and memorized too many talking points in preparation for his primetime rendezvous with the public. He clearly came out in an over-caffeinated mood ready to do battle with his Republican congressional foes, whom he had already vanquished-and, as a result, he over-reacted to last week's Fox News commentary instead of focusing on the exact shape of the stimulus. What shone through the entire press conference is how irked the president is with laissez-faire conservatives who believe, even now, "that the government has no business interfering in the marketplace" and that "FDR was wrong to intervene back in the New Deal." (Presumably Amity Shlaes, the Roosevelt-ripping author, should not plan on any immediate Oval Office invitations).
It is inevitable that the Obama press conference will be reviewed as political theater, since it was light on ... well ... that amorphous thing called news. The president's strongest answer was in response to the evening's fluffiest question, about Alex Rodriguez's confession that he had taken steroids. After an honest baseball fan's lament ("it tarnishes an entire era"), Obama jumped to a larger point that transcends sports--the lesson in A-Rod's downfall for the young: "There are no shortcuts; that when you try to take shortcuts you may end up tarnishing your whole career." Obama also took advantage of the presidential prerogative to duck when he was asked a tricky question about ending the ban on media coverage of the flag-draped coffins arriving at Dover Air Force Base. "We are in the process of reviewing those policies in conversations with the Defense Department," Obama said without revealing his hand. "So I don't want to give you an answer now, before I've evaluated that review and understand all the implications involved."
I'm still looking for the elusive liberal blog who defends this billion dollar Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich as "stimulus". The best I can find is a lib who likes it because conservatives hate it.
If you know if one please let me know.