Obama’s Press Conference at 60+ days and other Presidential Matters

How’s he doing?  I thought the press conference last night showed a more subdued President Obama.   David Biespiel said on Politico’s Arena

Overall: Professor in chief. I saw the news conference on CNN from my hotel room. Will cable TV present every Obama news conference as if it’s the last night of Yalta? I disagree with the interpretation that these night time press conferences should be for dramatic events only. Meeting with the press monthly on prime time is good for democracy–whether the climate is dramatic or not. 

I tend to agree with him.  I don’t think the President is at his best with press conferences – he seems to do better with town hall meetings – but they are informative.  Maybe he should think about a prime time town hall meeting.

Thomas Mann from Brookings said on Politico’s Arena

What struck me about last night’s press conference was how the President managed both to maintain his signature leadership style — cool, intelligent, knowledgeable, and reasonable — and to forcefully advocate his position that his economic recovery program and his budget are inextricably linked. He also signaled clearly, especially in his closing remarks, that he fully understands the obstacles he faces and that some of his priorities will take years to accomplish. It appears he will continue to aim high with an ambitious agenda in spite of the clamor of critics for cutting back on his objectives. In a world in which an exclusive focus on short-term gains has dominated behavior in government and in the private sector, Obama is planning an eight-year program of governance that aspires to grapple seriously with long-term challenges.

Which leads me to talk about the Republican opposition.  Several Republicans posted on the Arena their disappointment that there was no real opposition agenda.  I believe that the President has also pointed out that there is no alternative budget so there can be a real discussion.

Eugene Robinson wrote in today’s Washington Post

Some listeners thought they heard flexibility or even retreat on the president’s ambitious agenda of health care, energy and education. I heard the opposite — a single-minded focus on these three initiatives, which Obama maintains are vital if the economy is to be put on sound footing. His strategy is to let Congress work out the details, but he was clear that he expects all of the Big Three to be reflected in the budget. One thing we’ll learn about him, the president said, is that he’s persistent. I’m going to take him at his word.

If you recall, Barack Obama stuck to a consistant message throughout his campaign.  He never let himself get sidetracked to drawn into debates he didn’t want to have.  I think last night showed he is still the same person, that what we saw during the campaign is what we got as a President.

One negative note to my evaluation of his first 60 days.  I am still worried about some of his appointments, particularly in the economic area.  As I have said before I am very very skeptical about Larry Summers in particular.  Christopher Hayes gave this piece of advice back in January and I think it is still relevant.

But as the Obama administration continues to fill thousands of government positions, they’d do well to heed the words of a wise man who once said that “tallying up your years in Washington is no substitute for judgment.” That was President Obama, whose primary campaign was largely predicated on the principle that having gotten something crucial, like the Iraq War, right when other people got it wrong was of such overwhelming importance that voters should elevate someone who’d been a state senator just a few years earlier to the highest office in the land over a competitor with years in Washington under her belt.

The voters agreed, and I continue to think they got it right. Maybe the president should go back and read some of his old speeches the next time there’s an opening in his administration.

And not to beat a maybe dead horse:  where is a job for Howard Dean?

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