Thursday, March 26, 2009


The consensus post mortem verdict on Obama's most recent press conference was, for the most part, that, if nothing else, it could be bottled and sold as a sleep aid. And it's no wonder. Obama, as anyone who has listened closely to his speeches knows, has always been all style and no substance. But Obama may be finding that his style is wearing thin. And evidence of that came in one telling moment.

Last night, while not coming right out and accusing Obama of outright dishonesty, Ed Henry of CNN asked the toughest question of the night -- why Obama had waited 3 days to voice his "outrage" when he had known days before it became public that the bonuses were going to be paid.

This caught Obama completely off guard. Because the question not only called into question his honesty,(something that has already been shown to be anything but Lincoln-esque) but the subtext was that Obama had been engaging in the kind of phony political posturing that supposedly he came to Washington to change. What followed was a moment that showed Obama brought to the brink of losing his temper. With virtual contempt in his voice he answered, "because I like to know what I'm talking about before saying anything:"

It had become clear from information that became public last week ( see the blog post "The President Who Decried Bonus Wolves") that Obama's "outrage" over the AIG bonuses was, in fact, a fake. He not only knew in advance that the bonuses would be paid, he actually gave the go ahead to Treasury to ask Senator Dodd to insert the loophole that allowed them to be paid.Then, after the bonuses were paid and all hell broke loose, Obama expressed his phony public "outrage".

For anyone who has followed Obama's statements and speeches from the primary campaign through the general election, making statements without knowing what he was talking about has never been an obstacle. From taking one position and then completely reversing it concerning the DC gun law struck down by the Supreme Court, or reversing himself on Jerusalem within 24 hours, or a promise to vote against the FISA bill and then voting for it, or a pledge to accept only public campaign financing and then doing the opposite, one cannot exactly take what Obama says to the bank, especially since that bank has a number of toxic assets for quite some time. But what was telling this time was the flash of controlled that anger Obama showed when confronted by Ed Henry who did something no other journalist had attempted -- poke a hole in the Obama facade and challenge his veracity.

Up to now the press had been behaving more like Obama's valet than an adversary, doing everything but pressing his clothes. During the primary and general election campaign the press largely let Obama get away with saying just about anything. Nothing that he had said had been challenged before by a journalist --at least not until he started running for President.

A Chicago Tribune reporter wrote about his personal experience he had with Obama a few years ago when he challenged him on the validity of a statement he made during a phone conversation. According to this reporter Obama blew up on the phone, completely lost his temper and, according to the reporter, ranted at him. This is not unusual behavior for someone who carefully crafts a facade that he himself may even come to believe is real. When the self deluded are confronted with a reality that threatens the delusion they become hostile. And that is what happened last night when Ed Henry tried to pull back the curtain attempting to give a glimpse of who the Wizard behind the curtain really was.

Obama was like an undefeated prize fighter who never before had to take a punch because no journalist had ever thrown one. Henry's punch landed and for a brief moment, though it wasn't a knockout blow, dazed him. It was a punch Obama obviously never saw coming because of a mostly compliant news media or, to continue the fight analogy, a news media that could be called a Bum of the Month Club. The only defense Obama had was a snide, clearly contemptuous answer, almost as if to say how dare you even ask the question. Then he did what any fighter who is in momentary trouble does -- retreat and get out of trouble -- and he went on to the next question.

No other reporter followed up on Henry's question. While it did get a mention on CNN during the post mortem, for the most part it was glossed over. But it was a telling moment, both for the press and for Obama. And perhaps a signal that there will be those in the press he can no longer count on to be his personal valets.


Anonymous said...

Is there any video of this exchange? I refused to watch the press conference and any videos on the net of the conference. About how far into the hour was Henry's question? I would like to see thisi particular exchange.

Also, I bet Ed Hnenry is never allowed to ask a question ever again at a -0- press conference.

Carol said...

And then today his is doing an internet "town hall" to give us "straight answers". Pooey. The man is a joke.

susan h said...

To explain it all, Robert Gibbs told us "the President is doing what he does best, talking to the American people (town hall style), ...AND SAVING GAS!

Didn't Obama shy away from town halls during the campaign? Hillary loved them and did great at them. Obama only liked the prepared speeches in front of a teleprompter kind (as few questions as possible that way) and if I remember correctly refused several opportunities for town hall debates with Hillary and/or John McCain.

They finally figured out what kind of job to give Obama for his 4 year tenure: town hall talkathons. Kind of like a warm-up act at a really big event. Obama cannot do the main event, he can only "warm up the audience" (now town hall style) while others do the main stage show. And this is why we elected this guy? (Sorry, I almost forgot, he wasn't really fairly elected, he stole the election through massive caucus fraud, ACORN corruption, disenfranchisement of FL and MI voters and paying super-delegates to vote for him).

I hope Ed and Chip and Major and others (those he gave crumbs to at the press conference by calling their names) start to remember they are JOURNALISTS and continue to ask the TOUGH QUESTIONS. Thanks Marc for this great post.

sue said...

Anonymous- I too hate to watch/listen to him but I force myself so I know what he said/did and I don't rely on these "reporters" to accurately report the content of the exchange. (my advice to you- a glass or two of red wine certainly helps when you are watching Obama- and some pepto bismol too)

The contempt Obama showed to Ed Henry should not surprise any of us- remember when certain news papers endorsed McCain (I cannot remember which 3) - don't you remember how they were kicked off the Obamabus? If you are not a sycophant happy to kiss his feet- you get kicked under the bus- but it was a little more challenging for him to do that on a nationally televised address. I am certain Ed Henry will struggle from here on out- Obama and his passive-aggressive behavior will see to that.

This BS about the internet town hall he can read the questions- have some lackey write his response? When are people going to start demanding he speak without everything so carefully scripted? I am no defender of Bush- he got well-deserved criticism for his inferior speaking ability- but why does the MSM give this guy a pass? Hopefully the facade will eventually fall away.

Thanks Marc

alphaBeach said...

The Town Yawn was nothing more than a speech masquerading as dialog.

I hope more members of the press follow Ed's lead. It's too little too late, but at some point I believe he will fail to be the media's darling.

purplefinn said...

"Obama, as anyone who has listened closely to his speeches knows, has always been all style and no substance."

Thanks, Marc. Can't be said often enough in enough places.

Thanks also for documenting the chinks in his facade. Our media will not get tough until his poll numbers are way down. That's when they finally stopped giving W a free pass.

demholdout said...

Won't be surprised if this is the last time we hear from Ed Henry in the next four years. Obama will never call on him again.

demholdout said...

Anonymous #1: The video is on Hillaryis44:

Anonymous said...

Town Hall meeting?????? Town Hall meeting hell!!!!! He only took 6 questions out of hundreds submitted.

Anonymous said...

I am an African American woman and a proud supporter of Sec. of State Clinton. I too felt that she was cheated out of the Democratic nomination by party insiders and media groups. I did not support President Obama during the democratic nomination process or during the general campaign against Senator McCain and Gov. Palin.

Willful ignorance is the only reason for anyone's failure to see that Obama is less than meets the eye. The McCain comparison of Obama to Paris Hilton had a global ripple effect because any breathing being could attest to its truth. President Obama's white house team is everything you have decried on this site and then some--beholden to special interests and possessing a Nixonian level of dishonesty.

Okay, we all know this, but Obama is now the President of the United States and is therefore intrinsically linked with the future well being of our nation. The collapse of President Obama's economic policies or the failure of his military strategies will take its toll on each and every one of us just as the Reagan/Bush economic policies are currently impacting all Americans.

How can Clinton supporters be more proactive? How can we organize and help this President succeed--not for his sake but for our nation, our children and grandchildren. How can we mobilize our efforts to get him to fire Timothy Geitner, replace Rahm Emmanuel and rid himself of other ethically compromised members of his staff.

It is no longer about Obama for now. I am tired of Clinton supporters wasting our time nitpicking this President's foolishness while he continues to pass disastrous policies, and float immoral schemes to lay waste to social security. You mention that President Obama's media love is waning but what do you think he will do next to get back in the good graces of David Broder and David Brooks? Bomb Pakistan or gut social programs?

Enough retreading old grievances. Perhaps in four years during the next election I will start pondering once again why Obama thinks its okay to call a female journalist "sweetie." But for now we must find a way to act constructively. The best way to protect our values and our nation is to save this President from himself. What can we do to influence his policies for the better. That is all I care about for now.

Marc Rubin said...

"What can we do to influence his policies for the better. That is all I care about for now."

The most basic thing anyone would want from a politician is the truth. Then we know what we are really dealing with. That has been Obama's constant failing. But the initiatives of all the legislation that has been passed so far has come from Congressional Democrats. Obama has been enlisted as the Salesman in Chief. It's through individual members of Congress that people can have the most influence.And right now, members of Congress are hearing the dissatisfaction with much of what Obama has been selling and are letting their representatives know. Which is why some of Obama's proposals are now meeting resistance within the Democratic Party.