Tuesday, February 10, 2009


President Obama’s primetime press conference last night was the most impressive I’ve seen since JFK, and maybe more impressive even than his.

The contrast between Obama and his predecessor was obvious, but no less impressive was the contrast between him and all his predecessors in my lifetime.

Not only did he answer each question thoughtfully, fully, and with more detail than Bill Clinton’s impressive but wonky intellect led him to express, but he remembered the various aspects of the questions, the nuances and implications and addressed them as well.

And just to point out the obvious media bias, the response on NBC, the mainstream TV news that, at least under Peter Jennings became the most balanced from my perspective, was immediately critical.

They couldn’t criticize Obama’s intellect or impressive rhetorical skills, or equally impressive memory and energy (after all, he’d flown to Indiana earlier in the day, given a major speech there and taken questions, and that after security and economic briefings and meetings with staff and cabinet members, etc. etc. etc.), so they said it was great but “a week too late”—meaning the damage done by the rightwing Republicans in controlling the media message about the stimulus package had been growing in the past week and Obama’s strong defense of it and explanation of why it’s necessary and why their criticisms are wrong, should have been out there for a week.

Hello!? They have been out there, Obama has been saying these things, and so have others in his administration and Democrats in general, but the media have mostly ignored or dismissed them to give the spotlight to rightwing Republican critics.

The point seems to be that unless Obama addresses the media himself, and directly, and in primetime on national TV, they can’t hear him (although when he tried that by giving interviews—last week by the way—to the major TV news anchors, emphasizing exactly the same points he did last night, the media focused on only one response to one question, the one about Tom Daschle’s tax issue, to which Obama admitted he’d “screwed up” and that became the headline and the sound bite and the focus of the TV news stories about the interviews).

Notice how when Bush Junior, the biggest screw up in USA presidential history held a rare news conference, the media not only didn’t immediately criticize his obvious lack of the kind of intelligence that can speak clearly or coherently, or remember two questions asked of him only minutes or seconds before (“What was that other question you asked?”) let alone his avoidance of reality, denying facts and ignoring basic human truths (gee, he can’t think of any mistake he might have ever made, etc.). Nope, they’d talk about what he said, not how he was saying it too late, or incorrectly, or was false or etc.

So Obama not only has the challenge of inheriting from Bush Junior the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression, two wars, the largest deficit in USA history, and the myriad problems that Junior created in his eight years, but he has to contend with a weak minded weak willed and easily misled media. Thank God he’s up to the task.

[and for the rightwing critics on this blog and elsewhere, here's a good post on rj eskow's blog to check out]


JIm said...

I see that Pres. Obama joined with the previous admininstration in defending rendition. Does this mean Pres. Obama is a little Hitler, a trampler of human rights, a lower the low destroyer of the US Constitution and the Bill of Rights. Fair is fair. It is time for Code Pink to picket the Obama White House.

FEBRUARY 10, 2009 Rendition Case Under Bush Gets Obama Backing Article
more in Politics »By EVAN PEREZ
WASHINGTON -- The Obama administration backed the Bush administration's arguments in a lawsuit involving the practice of seizing terror suspects abroad and sending them to third countries for questioning.

Anonymous said...

The Fourth Estate has failed for years to expose the lies fabricated by the right wing. The new lie seems to be that the programs of F.D.R. had no effect on the Great Depression. That's kind of like saying there really wasn't a Holacaust.

Lally said...

epaminondas, exactly, They've been saying the unemployment rate was still 15% when WWII started, but at the beginning, and lowest pint of the Depression, it was over 25%. Seems like an improvement to me. And as Rachel Maddow showed in a chart on her show last night, the GDP hit its lowest mark at the beginning of the Depression (before FDR) and rose steadily upward (not slightly but sharply upward) except for the year FDR cut back on the New Deal stimulus projects in response to Republican criticism!

JIm said...

Henry said it best, to reprise a previous post.

No less an authority than FDR's Treasury secretary and close friend, Henry Morgenthau, conceded this fact to Congressional Democrats in May 1939: "We have tried spending money. We are spending more than we have ever spent before and it does not work. And I have just one interest, and if I am wrong . . . somebody else can have my job. I want to see this country prosperous. I want to see people get a job. I want to see people get enough to eat. We have never made good on our promises . . . I say after eight years of this Administration we have just as much unemployment as when we started . . . And an enormous debt to boot!" Indeed, FDR's market-suffocating policies are almost surely what put the "Great" in Great Depression.

JIm said...

I wonder how much Obamanomics and Obama Markets we can stand? The indispensable man who has a hard time figuring out his own tax returns has an equally hard time communicating a rational finance policy. Tim Geithner and Obama have not impressed the markets. We have another down 4% + day. I believe we need hope and change of a coherant stimulus bill that is stimulative. If there is a hell. the Quisling Republicans Collins, Spector and Snowe should burn for their betrayal of party and country.

Anonymous said...

The love of my life and I caught a little bit of Obama last night. She voted for him, I didn't, but after a few seconds I turned to her and remarked that it was so refreshing to have a president that can put two coherent sentences together.

In my opinion your headline in unintentionally ironic. David Halberstram wrote a book in the 70's with that title, the main point being that the very erudite people JFK gathered around him (eg McNamara - Ford and UC Berkeley), despite their indisputable "brilliance", led us into the Vietnam debacle. They could put two sentences together too.

Step back and consider where Obama and his brightest will lead us?

As for your Most Prolific Commentor (and the people he represents), he (and they) are increasingly delusional and irrelevant.

What has the MPC to offer us? More Bush!!!

I read about a poll recently (unfortunately I lost the link) that reported 30% + of registered Republicans would vote for GWB over George Washington in a fantasy election. Now that's delusional.

Anonymous said...

Re epaminondas' comment about the 4th Estate. Everyday folks pretty much hold "journalists" in contempt (along with Congress, used car salesmen, and politicians in general).

Jonathan Schwartz (the other one) has an amusing quote about this:


Lally said...

Butch, I was totally aware of that book when I titled this post. The fact that the title then was meant ironically because of Viet Nam doesn't mean that they weren't the "best and brightest"—and in fact they achieved a lot for JFK before he was assassinated, and they went on to achieve a lot for LBJ that benefited the country greatly. But they misjudged Viet Nam. I meant to restore the original meaning and bestow it on one man, because I feel he has the brains and energy and ideas to help us now as much as those guys helped create one of the most productive and economically successful periods in our history (except for Viet Nam). I also believe he has the brains and insight to not turn Afghanistan into another Nam as Junior did in Iraq for too long. So it was a judgment call and a hope combined in my trying to reclaim the original meaning of that tandem term for our current leader.

JIm said...

If Geithner and Biden are examples of the "Best and the Brightest", then God help us. Volker is the abelest in the bunch. He was responsible along with President Reagan, for the tough love that pulled us out of the 70's malaise, yet he has evidently been shunted aside.

JIm said...

A little wisdom from a usually Liberal to Moderate source.

The Open-Door Bailout
New York Times, February 11, 2009
Bangalore, India – Leave it to a brainy Indian to come up with the cheapest and surest way to stimulate our economy: immigration.
“All you need to do is grant visas to two million Indians, Chinese and Koreans,” said Shekhar Gupta, editor of The Indian Express newspaper. “We will buy up all the subprime homes. We will work 18 hours a day to pay for them. We will immediately improve your savings rate — no Indian bank today has more than 2 percent nonperforming loans because not paying your mortgage is considered shameful here. And we will start new companies to create our own jobs and jobs for more Americans.”
While his tongue was slightly in cheek, Gupta and many other Indian business people I spoke to this week were trying to make a point that sometimes non-Americans can make best: “Dear America, please remember how you got to be the wealthiest country in history. It wasn’t through protectionism, or state-owned banks or fearing free trade. No, the formula was very simple: build this really flexible, really open economy, tolerate creative destruction so dead capital is quickly redeployed to better ideas and companies, pour into it the most diverse, smart and energetic immigrants from every corner of the world and then stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat, stir and repeat.”
While I think President Obama has been doing his best to keep the worst protectionist impulses in Congress out of his stimulus plan, the U.S. Senate unfortunately voted on Feb. 6 to restrict banks and other financial institutions that receive taxpayer bailout money from hiring high-skilled immigrants on temporary work permits known as H-1B visas.

Anonymous said...

Who gives a shit what the media is saying about Obama's moves?

Quite frankly, nobody asked them.

One of the many differences between President Obama and his recent predecessors (GWB, Bill Clinton, GHB and Reagan) is that HE DOESN'T CARE WHAT "THE MEDIA" THINKS OF HIS POLICIES OR ACTIONS.

They get this. And they're a little pissed!

So is Wall Street. That so-called vote of no-confidence, ef-you Mr. President, given in the form of a market downturn? I'm sure it was noted by the adm. for what it was - the grumblings of a teenager being sent to his room.

He's going to do what he believes is best to rescue this country, even if it's unpleasant, difficult, and asks Americans - companies and individuals - to fundamentally change what they're doing. He has been very clear about that from day one. HE'S GOING TO TELL YOU WHAT HAS TO BE DONE - HE DOESN'T EXPECT YOU TO LIKE IT.

He won't be basing his policies on polling information.

He's using the press appropriately - to disseminate information to the masses.

He doesn't seek, desire or expect for newspapers, radio, or bloggers to tell him if his policies are well-received, or well-liked, or work.

He will be using ECONOMIC indicators - facts vs. opinions - to evaluate their success.

It's a BIG change, as promised.

The media will be forced to report the news only - not offer their 'take' on it - and Americans will be forced to - gasp! - form their own opinions once again.

The touchy-feely political parenting paradigm is over. The government is going to stop asking how corporations "feel" about rules and restrictions. We've proven quite amply that we can't police ourselves.

There's no more "time-outs" for our bad behavior. Time's up!, as they say in the African-American community.