25 Mar 2009

Obama Bores at Last Night’s Press Conference

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Andrew Malcolm pans the Annointed One’s most recent performance in the LA Times.

Tuesday morning The Ticket examined the White House’s current political strategy and asked the question who would show up at Barack Obama’s second nationally-televised news conference that evening: the president or the senator?

The answer: Neither.

Professor Barack Obama showed up. …

And if you remember one of those required college lecture courses in the large auditorium at 8:10 a.m. listening to a droning don, and how it felt, slumped in the cushy seats having skipped breakfast for an extra 13 minutes of ZZZZ.

[T]his news conference seemed anticlimatic. At times the president appeared to be mailing in his delivery.

He made no notable news, and did so quite smoothly. Unless sticking by his guns over cutting charitable deductions is news.

And the former constitutional law professor did go on in his answers, perhaps not by accident. Holding the floor is another means of control for any president. Like males hold the TV remotes.

The result: only 13 questions in 57 minutes.

And as The Ticket noted during its live-blogging, not one single question on either war, including the one the commander-in-chief recently ordered 17,000 more Americans to march into. …

Gone from the presidential podium were the ubiquitous, much-noted teleprompters that gave rise to embarrassing suggestions that Obama needs to be fed his words to avoid Special Olympics or Nancy Reagan gaffes. In the twin teleprompters’ place? A larger teleprompter in the back of the room where no one watching on TV could see it.

The result for anyone who stayed for the entire presentation was another lengthy, somber less-than-animated sales pitch for the need to spend trillions to jump-start the economy, which he sees promising signs of already at least with one Pennsylvania company (though still not yet Caterpillar), and how we’re going to somehow move from an era of spending and greed to an era of savings by spending so much we’re gonna double or maybe triple the national debt by the time a two-term Obama would be two years into improving his retirement bowling at Sun City.

Every new president gets a couple of these gimme news conferences, even if this one did bump something as sacred as “American Idol.” But another one of these newsless news conferences, and the broadcast networks may well leave it to cable and C-SPAN in order to stimulate their own economies.

The BBC summarized other reactions, in which, most notably, will be found the common conclusion that Obama’s free pass from the press is running out of time.

Jonah Goldberg, blogging at the National Review Online, gave the president a B-grade for Monday night’s routine.

“He didn’t hurt himself, but I don’t see how he helped himself. He still seems presidential, even though he was often longwinded.

“He had some good answers and some bad, politically speaking. But it was unmemorable in the end and I’m not sure it was worth the political capital of suckingup another hour of primetime.”

That was a view echoed by former White House press secretary Mike McCurry, debating the night’s events at Politico.com.

“I think we may have seen the last ‘freebie’ tonight,” McCurry wrote. “The major networks will not give up a narrow prime-time, revenue-generating hour for an occasion whence the president rehearses a prepared (even important) message.”

Even the left-leaning Huffington Post conceded that Mr Obama was now toning things down at a time of great national concern.

“Even when the topic ventured into the realm of international relations, the president brought the discussion right back to the home front,” Sam Stein wrote.

“In what served as a crescendo to the whole event, he addressed a question on the status of Israeli-Palestinian relations by, in essence, asking the public for a bit of patience.”

Back at Politico, Jeff Emmanuel from RedState.com said both president and press left him wanting more.

“Sooner or later the press will begin asking Mr Obama why he seems almost allergic to specifics in anything he says, be it answer, speech, or policy proposal.

“This was not that night.”

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