The Obama press conference failure

Ben Smith:

President Barack Obama came alive about 50 minutes into Wednesday night’s news conference – when somebody finally changed the subject.

The president’s remarks on his chosen subject, health care, were cautious and choreographed, hemmed in on one side by the calculations of his professional wordsmiths, on the other by the delicacy of negotiations with two houses of Congress.

He never detailed his own plan, or named a single victim of America’s broken system, and he spoke largely in the abstractions of blue pills, red pills, and legislative processes. It’s not easy to turn delivery system reform into a rallying cry for change, but at times, it was as if Obama wasn’t even trying.

His dryness was all the more striking by contrast with the press conference’s conclusion, when he suddenly re-engaged with a question that he’s spent much of his life mulling, race, in the form of the arrest of a black Harvard professor.

The appearance was striking by its absence of a move that’s long characterized Obama’s political career: When in trouble, go big. Faced with a crisis of confidence or with a political furor, he’s repeatedly shown an ability to rise above the storm, and to broaden the playing field, as when he turned a flap over his pastor into a meditation on race in America.

Now, facing his hardest test as President, Obama chose to go small.

In the bulk of the news conference, the president marched through a series of parries and recalibrations in his effort to steer a change in America’s health insurance system to passage this year. His goals were transparent, and defensive: He sought to reframe his plans as a matter of improving the lives of most Americans, not just rescuing the uninsured, and to remind voters that he’s trying to avert a health care crisis, not to provoke one.

And after a campaign that culminated with his call for “a new spirit of sacrifice,” Obama was at pains to claim that the only sacrifices would be unneeded tests and procedures.

Under his plan Americans are “going to have to give up paying for things that don’t make them healthier – and speaking as an American I think that’s the kind of change you want,” Obama said.

Though the press conference will not stand as a model of inspiration, it proceeded largely on the president’s terms. The press cooperatively devoted all but two questions to the White House’s chosen topic, health care, and Obama repeatedly tried to focus the country’s attention on the urgency of the need for health care legislation this year.

A word about the Harvard professor--If Obama thinks the police were stupid, how smart is it to break into your rented house when you can call the landlord and get a key? How smart is it to deliberately provoke a confrontation with a cop when they come to investigate the break in?

Cops can be a pain sometimes, but they are trained to be demanding in certain situations and it makes no sense to push their buttons unnecessarily. I live around a lot of less educated black people and I believe that most of them would have handled the situation better than Gates. One reason is that they do not go through life with a chip on their shoulder.

Here is the police report on the events that led to Gates' arrest. I hope someone ask him if it is accurate. If it is accurate, then it is clear who the stupid party was in this incident.

Jules Crittenden has some interesting thoughts on the cop in question.

Obama's inability to make the case for health care reform is striking. He seems surprised that people would disagree with him, yet he has no coherent policy and seems to be waiting for the Congress to develop on on his fast timetable.


  1. What does the Harvard professor teach? Hate blue eyed white people?


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