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]