Thursday, February 12, 2009

Dear President Obama: So much for "press conferences," eh?

I was stunned to read (not) that your dog and pony show, euphemistically referred to as a "press conference," was more of the type of con job for which you've become famous.

It's bad enough that a leftwing blog like the Huffington Post was given any kind of credentials. But you loaded up the room with reporters KNOWING that you would only call on a few of them and knowing in advance which of those few had made the cut.

That means that dozens of people directly and tens of millions watching this debacle, expecting to see you handling a wide-range of questions from anyone there, instead of limiting access to pet reporters and excluding the rest; completely waste their time.

This goes to your "Empty Suit" image of hollowness, Mr. President. Since you lack the guts to get out front and take on all comers, this again gives me pause to wonder: If you can't take on a reporter or several reporters without your handlers making sure they're the "right kind" of reporters...

...Then how the hell do you expect to handle, say, Russia?

Given the debacle that has been your Generational Indebtedness Program, your miserable idea to cut the defense budget $55 billion in the middle of a war; your situational ethics in appointing everything from lying tax cheats to, God forbid, those anti-Christ lobbyists you kept babbling about during your campaign, to high-powered positions within your Administration... and now, confirmation by the Wall Street Journal, that you made an effort to stack the deck at what was really no more a press conference then, say, your porkulus package is actually needed... well, that's not doing much to build confidence in your ability to lead.

But then, Mr. President, your desire to come across like a casket salesman making you think you NEED the bronze instead of as the leader of the free world, only serves to embolden our enemies... a fact I live in fear that we'll be finding out soon enough.

Obama's Press List Membership shall have its privileges.

About half-way through President Obama's press conference Monday night, he had an unscripted question of his own. "All, Chuck Todd," the President said, referring to NBC's White House correspondent. "Where's Chuck?" He had the same strange question about Fox News's Major Garrett: "Where's Major?"

The problem wasn't the lighting in the East Room. The President was running down a list of reporters preselected to ask questions. The White House had decided in advance who would be allowed to question the President and who was left out.

Presidents are free to conduct press conferences however they like, but the decision to preselect questioners is an odd one, especially for a White House famously pledged to openness. We doubt that President Bush, who was notorious for being parsimonious with follow-ups, would have gotten away with prescreening his interlocutors. Mr. Obama can more than handle his own, so our guess is that this is an attempt to discipline reporters who aren't White House favorites.

Few accounts of Monday night's event even mentioned the curious fact that the White House had picked its speakers in advance. We hope that omission wasn't out of fear of being left off the list the next time.

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