Politics — March 25, 2009 at 6:56 pm

Pundits Punt at Prime Time Presidential Presser


I watched President Obama’s second prime time press conference last night and thought he handled himself pretty well. The press, however?

Not so much.

There were, of course, some good questions. But two of them really stuck out as particularly worthless and the President still managed to respond well to them. It’s a tribute to his communications skills, I suppose.

The first Really Bad Question came from Chuck Todd at MSNBC. Normally I really like Chuck Todd. I think he’s fair and uber-smart and very competent. I don’t know what the hell happened to him last night.

Chuck Todd: Thank you, Mr. President. Some have compared this financial crisis to a war. And in times of war, past presidents have called for some form of sacrifice.

Some of your programs, whether for Main Street or Wall Street, have actually cushioned the blow for those that were irresponsible during this — during this economic period of prosperity or supposed prosperity that you were talking about.

Why, given this new era of responsible that you’re asking for, why haven’t you asked for something specific that the public should be sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?

Okay, first of all, WHAT? Did Chuck Todd really compare a country making sacrifices in a time of war to a country foundering on the shoals of an economic crisis that has some states with 10+% unemployment? Really, Chuck? WTF???

But, as usual, President Coolio Hussein Obama answered with aplomb. After some boring bits about making sure we have more specific preconditions on any future bailouts and tighter regulations for the financial industry in general and blah blah blah, he got to the meat of Todd’s ridiculous question:

With respect to the American people, I think folks are sacrificing left and right. I mean, you’ve got a lot of parents who are cutting back on everything to make sure that their kids can still go to college. You’ve got workers who are deciding to cut an entire day — an entire day’s worth of pay so that their fellow co-workers aren’t laid off.

I think that, across the board, people are making adjustments large and small to accommodate the fact that we’re in very difficult times right now.

Okay, that was easy. I mean, DUH! Americans already ARE making sacrifices. Hell, even rich people are having to cut back so you know it’s getting bad. But Chuck Todd didn’t seem content to leave America’s memory of his Big Opportunity at that. No, he had to press the point.

Chuck Todd: But you don’t think there should be a specific call to action that you want the American? — I mean, this is — you’ve described this as an economic crisis like nothing we have seen since the Great Depression.

Jesus, Chuck, don’t you realize when you’ve just been handed your ass? Do you really have to dance around holding it over your head???

Uh, well, apparently so. So the President teed it up and smacked a long one into the stands:

Well, as — as I said, the American people are making a host of sacrifices in their individual lives. […]

What I’m looking from the American people to do is that they are going to be doing what they’ve always done, which is working hard, looking after their families, making sure that, despite the economic hard times, that they’re still contributing to their community, that they’re still participating in volunteer activities, that they are paying attention to the debates that are going on in Washington.

And the budgets that we’re putting forward and some of the decisions that we’re having to make are going to be tough decisions, and we’re going to need the support of the American people. And that’s part of why what I’ve tried to do is to be out front as much as possible explaining in very clear terms exactly what we’re doing.

Oh, dear. Sorry, Chuck. Thanks for playing. Please try again.

The second Really Bad Question came from Ed Henry of CNN. I don’t expect a ton from CNN but I think they are, on the whole, pretty decent and balanced. But, like Chuck Todd, Henry ended up looking like a fool last night after the President got done with him and it wasn’t because he was being mean but because Ed Henry was being an effin moron.

Ed Henry:Thank you. Mr. President. You spoke again at the top about your anger about AIG. You’ve been saying that for days now. But why is it that it seems Andrew Cuomo seems to be in New York getting more actual action on it?

And when you and Secretary Geithner first learned about this 10 days, two weeks ago, you didn’t go public immediately with that outrage. You waited a few days. And then when — you went public after you realized Secretary Geithner really had no legal avenue to stop it.

He actually asked more than just this but this was Part I of the “Ed Henry Asks a Dumb Question in Front of a National Television and Radio Audience Show”. The president answered the reasonable part of his question about the size of the deficits he was creating and why it was necessary and his philosophy about why he believes his plan is the best one and blah blah blah. But he skipped answering the stupid part of the question about waiting for a few days to mention the AIG bonuses. I mean, you can see why. It was just a dumb fucking question.

Henry must have realized he hadn’t emerged from his Big Moment looking like a big enough tool for asking the question in the first place. So he asked a follow-up question, as if to make sure the world would know what a first class dumb ass he is.

But on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage? It seems like the action is coming out of New York and the attorney general’s office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, “Look, we’re outraged.” Why did it take so long?

This is where the President must have said to himself, “You know what? If this douchenozzle is going lob me this ‘Make Ed Henry Look REALLY Stupid’ softball TWO TIMES, I’m going to have to smack that damn thing outta the park.”

And so he did.

President Obama: It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.

Everyone in the Press Room laughed.

Everyone in the country laughed.

And the President calmly and collectedly moved on leaving Ed Henry in his wake, looking like a fool.

And, amazingly, he did it all without teleprompters.

I’m just sayin’…