Barack Obama appears to have given up on prime-time press conferences, instead opting today to hold a mid-day presser at 12:30 ET. Originally, they had it scheduled for the Rose Garden, but instead had to move it inside because of rain. We’ll see if Obama can make the sun shine today.
Conclusion: I’ve been highly critical about Obama’s lack of response on Iran; I think he did very well today. He condemned Iran in unequivocal and harsh terms. Charles Krauthammer says he finally “adopted McCain language,” and points out that Obama always claims consistency whenever he changes direction. Obama should have rescinded our offer of “weenie diplomacy,” which belies the tough talk. At least, though, Obama has caught up with most of the rest of the free world.
13:22 – Has Obama seen the Neda video? Yes, and it’s “heartbreaking”. Has to tell Helen Thomas to pipe down; there’s a keeper moment.
13:19 – African American unemployment to 20%, but targeted intervention may come next year, according to WaPo? Why not now? Better to focus on getting the entire economy moving. Good answer, but one we’d expect from a Republican.
13:17 – Hey, it’s OK to feel crappy about life now! Thanks, Mr. President.
13:13 – Do we need a second stimulus package? “Not yet … we need to see how effective the first stimulus will be.” Obama also says that no one predicted how bad the economy would tank, but in fact, many people did — and said that big-government programs wouldn’t help in any case.
13:07 – Will the new law prevent Obama smoking? “It’s not about me,” it’s about everyone else but me. “Am I a daily smoker, a constant smoker? No. … I’m 95% cured.” Um, okay. Compares it to alcoholism. That may not work well.
13:02 – Tapper notes Obama’s “Spock-like” answer on the public plan, and challenges him on employer retreat on private plans. Instead of answering, Obama first asks Tapper if he’s making fun of his ears with the Spock reference. Obama says that a public plan that “feeds at the public trough” would do that, but that a public plan can deliver better administrative performance. Er, then please explain Medicare, Medicaid, and the VA.
13:00 – “You have avoided twice” noting potential consequences for the Iranian mullahs, Chuck Todd says, but Obama says he’s not married to the “24-hour news cycle”.
12:57 – Response on Iran “timid and weak,” today sounds a lot stronger; is this a response to McCain and Graham accusation? Obama laughs it off. “Only I’m the President of the United States,” which is why my earlier response was weaker, even though I said it wasn’t earlier. I don’t want to be a “foil” for the mullahs, even though they’re doing it anyway. Incoherence.
12:55 – Why would it drive private insurers out of business? Because government will undercut on price. Obama’s being deliberately obtuse.
12:54 – A public plan will “discipline” private insurers. “Discipline”?
12:53 – Medicare Advantage going out the door in favor of plain-vanilla Medicare. Of course. Because a public-private partnership can’t survive ObamaCare.
12:50 – Obama notes that “75%, 80% of Americans satisfied with the plans they have.” So why change everything? Because we can’t pay for Medicare and Medicaid. Ergo, let’s overturn a system that at least three-quarters of the people like. “If we start from the premise that the status quo is unacceptable, then we have to make serious changes.” Yes, but 80% of us don’t think the status quo is unacceptable!
12:49 – Garrett asks whether Iranian diplomats are still welcome to State Dept 4th of July celebrations. Obama says, “That’s a choice the Iranians have to make.” Weenie diplomacy still on!
12:47 – Major Garrett: “What took you so long?” Obama objects to the characterization that he waffled. “We’ve been entirely consistent.” Ha!
12:43 – Ben Bernanke has done a “fine job”, and that all financial regulators failed in the crisis. That’s why he’s promoting the biggest expansion of regulatory power in “75 years.” The Fed did better than most, which is why Obama wants to put more power there than elsewhere.
12:40 – Takes a Q from Nico Pitney, who has a Q from Iran — under what conditions would you accept A’Jad’s election, and if you do, isn’t that a betrayal? Says there are ‘significant questions’ about the election’s legitimacy, says it’s up to the Iranian people to choose their leaders. But that evades the entire problem — the Iranian people say they didn’t choose their leader.
12:39 – “Should there be consequences”? Another non-answer.
12:37 – AP wonders whether the violence has shut off the possibility of talks. “We’re still waiting to see how this plays out.” Meandering answer, says “it’s up to them,” which means that Obama still wants to talk with them. Again calls Iranian uprising an “extraordinary debate,” which makes it sound like college forensics.
12:35 – Two minutes on energy, and then health-care reform. Promises that it will not add to the deficit, despite the CBO analysis. “We cannot have a system where we throw good money after bad practices.” Like the VA and Medicare?
12:34 – Government subsidies will make clean energy profitable? That’s an oxymoron.
12:33 – Three minutes on Iran, and then to cap-and-trade. Pretty short, but he got Iran right for the first time.
12:32 – Mentions Neda Soltani, not by name, but a quick tribute. Iranian govt must govern by consent, not coercion,
12:32 – “No iron fist” can stop the world from witnessing the oppression of the Iranian people.
12:30 – Obama starts off with Iran, says we are now “appalled and outraged,” and that he “condemns” the actions of the Iranian regime and joins in mourning the victims. “Some in the Iranian government” are trying to avoid debate by blaming the US. “This tired strategy” of scapegoating the US will no longer work. Good stuff.
12:28 – Major Garrett reports that there will be no TOTUS in this presser.