Quick Prime Time Press Conference Reflection

Before I abandon the internet to fight the homework beast slouching towards my desk to be born, I have a few passing thoughts about President Obama’s presser I want to put out into the open:  

  • President Obama did a great job diffusing the onslaught of Republican revisionism in the past couple of weeks surrounding this impending stimulus package in the course of about two hours.  Even though the news media continue to glut themselves on low-cost Rethug Rum Punch, nothing demands more press time than the President taking time to address the public and his colleagues on a serious national matter.  So good job in engaging the press head-on and redirecting the narrative.  
  • I am not alone at all in welcoming President’s Obama’s measured responses, calls for assertions backed by evidence, the infusion of a sense of humor in speaking to the White House press corps, and his general cadence in trying to answer press questions.  The gloss hasn’t worn off because it’s been three weeks tomorrow since his administration started.  
  • With the starry-eyed reactions noted, President Obama also did some obfuscation.  Tomorrow, Treasury Secretary Geithner is going to have to bring his A++ game because Obama entrusted a lot of specifics to him on this economic stimulus and the future of TARP.  
  • I appreciated the questions on foreign policy with regards to Afghanistan, Pakistan, and Iran.  I also liked the question surrounding the Pentagon’s gag order on press coverage of coffins returning home for burial.  
  • I did NOT appreciate the asinine question about A-Rod’s steroid usage.
  • I also felt disappointed when Obama’s response to Sen. Leahy’s Truth and Reconciliation Commission proposal was the same stock answer of “yeah, law and order is important, BUT we need to move forward.”  If the U.S. does not torture, and intelligence officials engaged in torture practices, then calling a spade a spade isn’t painting them with a broad brush.  Besides, the nature of prosecution and trying people is fact-finding, ironing out specifics and defenses, and assessing if the actions merit any punishment.  A truth and reconciliation commission (if we’re following the South African model with amnesty provisions) wouldn’t necessarily result in punishment.
  • Last disappointment: no direct mention of Israel and Gaza from reporters or Obama, except for passive comments that Iran funds “terrorist organizations” like Hezbollah and Hamas.  Helen Thomas managed a very not-so-subtle question referencing “so-called terrorists” and asking who in the Middle East has nuclear weaponry, and I positively squealed.  I love her for invoking The-Conflict-That-Must-Not-Be-Named.
  • Admitting my ideological constipation up front (sorry Mr. President), I balked when Obama said that “credit markets are the lifeblood of our economy.”  From the rest of Obama’s talk about how the main indicator of this legislation’s success would be job creation, I thought surely workers, labor, entrepreneurship formed the lifeblood of the economy.  The best way to determine the lifeblood of any abstract concept?  Focus on the living people dedicated to keeping the work going.  Every point Obama made about investing in education and skills training, working towards energy efficiency, reforming health care documentation, repairing flawed infrastructure, and creating “regulatory architecture” (love that visual imagery) — every one of those points has promoting the contributions and well-being of people as the lifeblood flowing through the veins of these collapsing programs.  The credit markets are nominal if there’s no one working to sustain the system.  We need to make people’s contributions to labor and their personal working development matter again.  At the same time, we need to cut out entitlement language that demeans the human and social value of those people who cannot work for whatever reason.  It’s time for a human-centered economy, not a market-centered one.  Saying credit markets are the economy’s lifeblood is a shortcut nod to past failed policies, and we know how you feel about shortcuts, Mr. President.
  • Piggybacking off the human-centered markets point, President Obama should not have shied away from placing some of the blame for our current crisis on bad consumer spending and fiscal habits.  Hate to put it this way, but the President embellished the role of the banks here.  Savings and debt repayment need to be on the table; the U.S. is not as resourceful as a nation with spending and saving as China, for example.  Confidence restoration is important and wise; but we really need a long-term solution for our economy that does not depend on constant indebtedness to other countries for our basic needs and resources.  Foreign debt will be just as poisonous as foreign oil over the long-term if we don’t change our attitudes towards consumerism and commercialization.  
  • Random HuffPo press conference appearance?!  Eeeeeenteresting.  

Feel free to leave your comments about the President’s news conference here on these points or any other topics from tonight (or last night, since most people will likely read this Tuesday).  Goodnight.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Connect with Facebook