When Smart-Ass Reporters Ask Dumb-Ass Questions

March 25, 2009

News people working the White House are way-too-cool for school — Last night, they acted the arrogant clowns displaying delusional as opposed to actual smarts during President Obama’s press conference.

(Illustration found here).

Obama is a slick guy and the slick comes from within — Josh Marshall at TPM hit the eye-tooth right on the head, noting US peoples are right now “looking for competence and command, a sense that someone is sailing the ship, at helm with a clear sense of where they’re going.”
No one knows right now what’s going to happen with this horrific-mangled financial system, despite all the bluster — No one knows for sure, but a real leader also has to comfort.
Hence, Obama’s mug, voice and body has been all over the place his first 64 days in office, even hitting late-night TV, utilizing his administration’s biggest asset — himself.
In public appearances, from a joint session of Congress to town-hall meetings to shooting hoops last summer in Kuwait, Obama has always displayed an acute public sense, a kind of fore-knowledge if you will, of what people want to hear.
He also seems to understand the vital point of it all: The ability to communicate that ‘what people want to hear’ with seemingly sincere confidence.
And ostensibly with good grace — Even if the news is not so good.
Last night, he returned to the early campaign trail with a classroom-like exposition:

Instead, in his second prime-time news conference from the White House, it was Barack Obama the lecturer, a familiar character from early in the campaign.
Placid and unsmiling, he was the professor in chief, offering familiar arguments in long paragraphs — often introduced with the phrase, “as I said before” — sounding like the teacher speaking in the stillness of a classroom where students are restlessly waiting for the ring of the bell.

At a time of anger and anxiety in the country, Mr. Obama showed little emotion.
He rarely cracked a joke or raised his voice. Even when he declared himself upset over the $165 million in bonuses paid this month by the American International Group despite its taxpayer bailout, his voice sounded calm and unbothered.
“I’m as angry as anybody about those bonuses,” he said, adding that executives needed to learn that “enriching themselves on the taxpayers’ dime is inexcusable.”
To a certain extent, Mr. Obama’s demeanor could have been calculated — an effort, aides said, to lower the temperature after a supercharged week and nudge the country toward what Mr. Obama considers the more pressing issues of fixing the banking system and reviving the economy.
Even after excoriating the A.I.G. executives, he cautioned that “the rest of us can’t afford to demonize every investor or entrepreneur who seeks to make a profit.”

Recent polls, however, suggest US peoples are still confident in his performance, even with the AIG bonus fiasco.
Despite talking through the pratfalls of a tanking economy, Obama last night also had to put up with the dumb-ass White House press corp, who apparently couldn’t muster up any decent, pertinent questions, a shameful performance made worse by some non-professional, high-salaried, always-obnoxious asshole reporter people — Representatives of the MSM.

First nearly out of the chute was Chuck Todd of NBC, a most-pure example of the Peter Principle and a shallow political commentator to boot (Seen making a question pitch in the above photo at Obama’s press conference last month), with a bone-headed question about the obvious.

Some have compared this financial crisis to a war. And in times of war, past presidents have called for some form of sacrifice.
Some of your programs, whether for Main Street or Wall Street, have actually cushioned the blow for those that were irresponsible during this economic period of prosperity or supposed prosperity that you were talking about.
Why, given this new era of responsible that you’re asking for, sacrificing to participate in this economic recovery?

On TV anyway, Obama looked liked he winced, not from the question, but from the absurdity of it, and then laid it all out once again:

Well, as — as I said, the American people are making a host of sacrifices in their individual lives.
We are going through an extraordinary crisis, but we believe that, taken — if you take the steps that we’ve already taken, with respect to housing, with respect to small businesses, if you look at what we’re doing in terms of increasing liquidity in the financial system, that the steps that we’re taking can actually stabilize the economy and get it moving again.

After a couple of weak, but decent questions on middle-class tax cuts and cap-and-trade measures in Obama’s proposed budget, up steps Chip Reid of CBS with a real-smart-ass beef on the looming $1 trillion deficit (Reid, one remembers, got his panties in a bind earlier this month when during a questioning of Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary, made a catty aside about the “ugly heads” of Democrats), but neglected to mention in his question Obama’s heady inheritance.

First of all, I suspect that some of those Republican critics have a short memory, because, as I recall, I’m inheriting a $1.3 trillion deficit, annual deficit, from them.
That would be point number one.
Point number two.
Both under our estimates and under the CBO estimates, both — the most conservative estimates out there, we drive down the deficit over the first five years of our budget.
The deficit is cut in half.
And folks aren’t disputing that.

Reid is an idiot.

Maybe the top dumb-ass question last night, however, came from chub-cheeks nit-wit Ed Henry of CNN, who tried to pop a “gotcha” question, but instead ended looking mean-spirited and sore:

You spoke again at the top about your anger about AIG.
You’ve been saying that for days now.
But why is it that it seems Andrew Cuomo seems to be in New York getting more actual action on it?

Pricking at the AIG bonus flap last week amid the talk vs action routine, Henry continued, saying that although Obama has “been very critical of President Bush doubling the national debt,” then predicted failure for the current budget when spending skyrockets: “You keep saying that you’ve inherited a big fiscal mess. Do you worry, though, that your daughters, not to mention the next president, will be inheriting an even bigger fiscal mess if the spending goes out of control?”

Obama is slick indeed and with a knife-like, serious edge, replied as if talking to an ignorant smarty-pants:

Of course I do, Ed, which is why we’re doing everything we can to reduce that deficit.
Look, if this were easy, then, you know, we would have already had it done, and the budget would have been voted on, and everybody could go home.
This is hard.

He went to explain about “a structural deficit that’s going to take a long time” to put behind us and how health-care will benefit in the long run, but Henry wouldn’t leave it alone, following up: “But on AIG, why did you wait — why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage?”
The president smiled and retorted:

It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.

The answer created laughter in the press room.
Another good look at Henry’s time at bat can be found here.

And then there’s the incompetent Ann Compton of ABC.
She let loose a question that was so dated, it was near embarrassing: “Could I ask you about race?”
(An inquiry most likely way-way-down on the list of questions for the new president).
And after listening quietly, looking like he was a bit uneasy, too, Obama answered:

I think that the last 64 days has been dominated by me trying to figure out how we’re going to fix the economy, and that affects black, brown and white.
And, you know, obviously, at the inauguration, I think that there was justifiable pride on the part of the country that we had taken a step to move us beyond some of the searing legacies of racial discrimination in this country, but that lasted about a day.
And — and, you know, right now, the American people are judging me exactly the way I should be judged.
And that is: Are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to re-open, keep America safe?
And that’s what I’ve been spending my time thinking about.

A transcript of the press conference can be found via RealClearPolitics.
Odd, but not a question about Tim Geithner’s famous bank plan unrolled just on Monday — one would think there would be a shitload of questions about crook-faced Geithner’s three-forked scheme to massage $420 billion in toxic loans and assets off US bank balance sheets.
No, the press is too hard-pressed to catch Obama off guard.

And for a look at the media looking not at itself, but Obama, see here.

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