Obamateurism of the Day

posted at 8:05 am on June 24, 2009 by Ed Morrissey

Presidential press conferences are breeding grounds for Obamateurisms, as Barack Obama struggles when forced to move from the TelePrompter — which he eschewed in yesterday’s presser for written notes, apparently stung by ridicule over his reliance on the device. Obama has difficulty in fielding extemporaneous questions, so Obama and his staff thought they might avoid that by planting a question with a pliant blogger. Instead, the interchange got so clumsy that the question-planting became obvious:

THE PRESIDENT: Nico [Pitney of the Huffington Post], I know that you, and all across the Internet, we’ve been seeing a lot of reports coming directly out of Iran. I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet. Do you have a question?

Q Yes, I did, I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian. We solicited questions last night from people who are still courageous enough to be communicating online, and one of them wanted to ask you this: Under which conditions would you accept the election of Ahmadinejad? And if you do accept it without any significant changes in the conditions there, isn’t that a betrayal of what the demonstrators there are working towards?

Obviously from his question, Nico expected Obama to call on him normally. Instead, Obama stole his introduction, and Nico’s weird repeat exposed the staging.

And if that wasn’t bad enough, Obama never answered the question:

THE PRESIDENT: Well, look, we didn’t have international observers on the ground. We can’t say definitively what exactly happened at polling places throughout the country. What we know is that a sizeable percentage of the Iranian people themselves, spanning Iranian society, consider this election illegitimate. It’s not an isolated instance — a little grumbling here or there. There is significant questions about the legitimacy of the election.

And so ultimately the most important thing for the Iranian government to consider is legitimacy in the eyes of its own people, not in the eyes of the United States. And that’s why I’ve been very clear: Ultimately, this is up to the Iranian people to decide who their leadership is going to be and the structure of their government.

What we can do is to say unequivocally that there are sets of international norms and principles about violence, about dealing with peaceful dissent, that spans cultures, spans borders. And what we’ve been seeing over the Internet and what we’ve been seeing in news reports violates those norms and violates those principles.

I think it is not too late for the Iranian government to recognize that there is a peaceful path that will lead to stability and legitimacy and prosperity for the Iranian people. We hope they take it.

Compare the question to the answer. Obama never answered either of them.

Dana Milbank, not exactly a staunch defender of conservatism, blasts the White House for its dishonesty:

After the obligatory first question from the Associated Press, Obama treated the overflowing White House briefing room to a surprise. “I know Nico Pitney is here from the Huffington Post,” he announced.

Obama knew this because White House aides had called Pitney the day before to invite him, and they had escorted him into the room. They told him the president was likely to call on him, with the understanding that he would ask a question about Iran that had been submitted online by an Iranian. “I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet,” Obama went on. “Do you have a question?”

Pitney recognized his prompt. “That’s right,” he said, standing in the aisle and wearing a temporary White House press pass. “I wanted to use this opportunity to ask you a question directly from an Iranian.”

Pitney asked his arranged question. Reporters looked at one another in amazement at the stagecraft they were witnessing. White House Chief of Staff Rahm Emanuel grinned at the surprised TV correspondents in the first row.

The use of planted questioners is a no-no at presidential news conferences, because it sends a message to the world — Iran included — that the American press isn’t as free as advertised. But yesterday wasn’t so much a news conference as it was a taping of a new daytime drama, “The Obama Show.”

Yes, what a way to celebrate freedom and to show the Iranians how an independent media works — by co-opting it through planted questions.  Has Obama made HuffPo the official White House propaganda organ yet, or is it still on the QT?

Got an Obamateurism of the Day? If you see a foul-up by Barack Obama, e-mail it to me at [email protected] with the quote and the link to the Obamateurism. I’ll post the best Obamateurisms on a daily basis, depending on how many I receive. Include a link to your blog, and I’ll give some link love as well. And unlike Slate, I promise to end the feature when Barack Obama leaves office.

Illustrations by Chris Muir of Day by Day. Be sure to read the adventures of Sam, Zed, Damon, and Jan every day!


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Comments

Keemo on June 24, 2009

You resurrected a memory of 1960, when my divorced mother with seven kids was on “state aid” in Illinois and we got dry (powdered) milk and “government cheese”. The cheese was OK for grilled cheese sandwiches, but the dry milk…yuck!

SKYFOX on June 24, 2009 at 9:51 AM

This is only a figurative expression and by no means meant to be taken other than that.
.
The American Appian Way:
May this person, this “One” who is predisposed to think of himself as above us all, looking down, falling down repeatingly burdened by this pseudo-cross of his faulty pursuits of what we have long recognized to be a soft tyranny. This “One” received by us to deceive us by saying many things we want to hear but in actuality doing things otherwise predesigned and carried out secretly or confidentially among his minions. If it were not for the complicit predisposed liberal media protecting these agendas of this “One”, the true reality of his anti american policies would have been exposed and made known to the American people. This affront to American peoples are slowly but surely are coming to realize that this “One” is not what he proclaimed to be. Therefore, this “One” is on the path of the American Appian Way and although he will not suffer the ultimate demise as the true messiah did, his downfall will be met in the ultimate political defeat, powerless to impose his will with at least a diminished influence by his presidential persuasion powers yet, by no means as harsh an end but still a present metaphorical and justified end along the American Appian Way.

Americannodash on June 24, 2009 at 9:51 AM

So the most powerful human evah is clumsy, deceitful, & crooked. Oh, well.

jgapinoy on June 24, 2009 at 9:54 AM

Thank you HH. A downside for term-limits perhaps?

JiangxiDad on June 24, 2009 at 9:33 AM

Personally, I like VA’s one-term and out rule. The governor has four years to accomplish whatever is on the agenda without being given the opportunity to worry about re-election. Sure, some like Kaine abandon the state in the last year to position themselves for their next job but that is preferable to a chief executive that spends the first four years positioning themselves to get re-hired for a second term.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 9:54 AM

He’s not growing into the job but trying to bend the world to fit his very limited abilities and understanding of the world. I shudder to think how much he’s going to have totally screwed up by 2012.

ProfessorMiao on June 24, 2009 at 9:50 AM

Plenty of opportunity for his GOP successor to start the incessant mantra of blaming Obama for everything starting with the primary campaigning in 2011.

More seriously, I think that every POTUS comes to the job thinking that they have a better understanding of the world and ability to make changes than they actually do. GWB, for example, campaigned on the idea of no more nation building (in the Clintonian tradition) and then spent most of his presidency dealing with nation building issues in Iraq and Afghanistan. It is especially painful to watch a POTUS get slapped into reality when the individual is as arrogant and uninformed as the filthy liar in the White House.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 10:01 AM

Has anyone noticed that the President always wants to remind us that we elected him President? Well, I agree with him. He was elected President, NOT DICTATOR!!!!!!

mobydutch on June 24, 2009 at 10:04 AM

SKYFOX on June 24, 2009 at 9:51 AM

I was raised on dry milk, and I fully agree “yuck!”

I bought a box anyway, put in in my basement closet with the collection of canned food we have been stocking up on. I’ve never seen anything like this in my lifetime. Jobs are hard to come by here in my area. My wife and I are both in the construction industry; she’s an architect and I own a construction plumbing business. Slim pick-ins around here…

Keemo on June 24, 2009 at 10:05 AM

But as you pointed out it’s not like he’s up for reelection. Hold his feet to the fire, but as long as he’s off on some DNC boondoggle he’s not in Richmond screwing the pooch. Bolling is probably running things in Richmond right now which is a good thing for Virginia.

Oldnuke on June 24, 2009 at 9:48 AM

No, the possible fallout would be to expose Democrats’ skullduggery.

Lourdes on June 24, 2009 at 10:06 AM

It is especially painful to watch a POTUS get slapped into reality when the individual is as arrogant and uninformed as the filthy liar in the White House.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 10:01 AM

I’m not sure the present occupant of the White House is capable of recognizing that the world doesn’t conform to his view. That’s one of the things that scares me about him. For one thing, he doesn’t have an ounce of humility in him, and it would take some of that to admit that’s wrong. He doesn’t admit mistakes, he recrafts history to conform to his belief (in particular of his own superiority). And for another, he’s surrounded by people who think like him.

ProfessorMiao on June 24, 2009 at 10:09 AM

You resurrected a memory of 1960, when my divorced mother with seven kids was on “state aid” in Illinois and we got dry (powdered) milk and “government cheese”. The cheese was OK for grilled cheese sandwiches, but the dry milk…yuck!

SKYFOX on June 24, 2009 at 9:51 AM

I was one of a mob of 4 army brats and we couldn’t afford enough ‘real’ milk so my mother used to make up a mix of half powdered milk and half real. That was OK, but on the rare occasions when we ran out of the real stuff, it was torture.

ProfessorMiao on June 24, 2009 at 10:11 AM

He doesn’t admit mistakes, he recrafts history to conform to his belief (in particular of his own superiority). And for another, he’s surrounded by people who think like him.

ProfessorMiao on June 24, 2009 at 10:09 AM

Here’s what scares me.

Obama has had a very easy six months. It is only now that he is dealing with his first unscripted international affairs issue and it is hard to imagine how he could have mis-managed it any more if he tried (despite the MSM propaganda hailing his “cool approach”). What happens if North Korea does launch something in July. Then there is the whole economy thing and Obama’s clear push to get healthcare rammed through before anybody can read the details.

Obama strikes me as a one issue at a time guy and he needs to be dealing on multiple fronts all at the same time. Which of the crucial items listed above gets dropped because of Obama’s gross incompetence? I’m hoping for healthcare but that seems to be the sacred cow in the mix.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 10:17 AM

Nico Pitney issues a denial that question was staged.

stormin1961 on June 24, 2009 at 10:25 AM

But didn’t Obama make it clear this was planned? It didn’t seem like there was any intent to hide this fact. Obama wanted a question from an Iranian and got one.

RufusW on June 24, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Nico Pitney issues a denial that question was staged.

stormin1961 on June 24, 2009 at 10:25 AM

A word from Nico Pitney is not necessarily the word from her handlers. Bigger players pull those strings. Obviously, Obama knew what was to be asked because he had a highly prepared setup ready and used it.

Lourdes on June 24, 2009 at 10:45 AM

Barry didn’t answer the question…….what else is new?

GarandFan on June 24, 2009 at 10:47 AM

Nico Pitney issues a denial that question was staged.

stormin1961 on June 24, 2009 at 10:25 AM

What else could poor Nico do? Not that Huffington Post is a legitimate member of the press but it would be professional suicide to admit that you went along with a scheme that involved planted questions.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 10:54 AM

But didn’t Obama make it clear this was planned? It didn’t seem like there was any intent to hide this fact. Obama wanted a question from an Iranian and got one.

RufusW on June 24, 2009 at 10:34 AM

Then why call on a particular propagandist from the audience to “ask” the question? He could have incorporated the question into his remarks or into one of the many other questions that dealt with the fact that the filthy liar in the White House has no intention of doing anything but voting “present” concerning this issue. He did not make it clear it was a planned question and managed to step on the planned delivery.

More to the point, it is pretty damned scary that the filthy liar can’t answer the questions posed to him by the media. Why bother with pressers at all? Just put up a flag behind the desk in the oval office, preempt all media programming, and have Obama give presidential addresses to the masses the way all the other dictators of the world do it. You’d never catch Chavez, Castro, or Kim Jung Il letting the media ask questions? Why should our thug-in-chief be any different?

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Here’s what scares me.

Obama has had a very easy six months. It is only now that he is dealing with his first unscripted international affairs issue and it is hard to imagine how he could have mis-managed it any more if he tried (despite the MSM propaganda hailing his “cool approach”). What happens if North Korea does launch something in July. Then there is the whole economy thing and Obama’s clear push to get healthcare rammed through before anybody can read the details.

Obama strikes me as a one issue at a time guy and he needs to be dealing on multiple fronts all at the same time. Which of the crucial items listed above gets dropped because of Obama’s gross incompetence? I’m hoping for healthcare but that seems to be the sacred cow in the mix.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 10:17 AM

I think he’s far more interested in “remaking” America than he is in foreign policy. That’s why he’s been trying to ram through so many huge changes so quickly. So he’s likely to coast along on the latter, voting present and waiting for the world to come to its senses (according to his definition) while he continues to destroy America’s economic foundation and guts the military. I’m not sure what, if any, damage his poor handling of foreign policy will do to his political capital and hence undermine his domestic agenda.

ProfessorMiao on June 24, 2009 at 11:00 AM

Milbank goes on to say that Bams called on another pre-screened reporter, the one from Chile.

Hail Dear Leader!

PattyJ on June 24, 2009 at 11:24 AM

I’m not sure what, if any, damage his poor handling of foreign policy will do to his political capital and hence undermine his domestic agenda.

ProfessorMiao on June 24, 2009 at 11:00 AM

If a North Korean missile comes anywhere even remotely near Hawaii and he’s done. Other than that, I think the biggest threat to his scorched earth domestic agenda is public outrage and the impact that has on politicians, especially during the mid-term elections.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 12:12 PM

This has got to be the winner for the week. How does it get worse than this?

apollyonbob on June 24, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Definitely the winner for the week… and so soon!
We should look at this pre-planted question (and the equally ridiculous plants at the so-called town halls) as the pattern for the future. As Messiah continues to use every means possible to shape the image and the message, the use of plants may grow to the point that there won’t be any legitimate questions at “news” conferences.
Maybe he should just do a TV show like his pal Hugo….

n0doz on June 24, 2009 at 12:46 PM

This has got to be the winner for the week. How does it get worse than this?

apollyonbob on June 24, 2009 at 12:19 PM

Check out the thread on weenie diplomacy.

highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 1:55 PM

Front runner for Obamateurism of the Week! Everybody knows, when you plant phony questions, they have to look real…

tom on June 24, 2009 at 2:18 PM

Obama is just letting his inner totalitarian show.

Why so many TV appearances? It’s the American equivalent to statues and paintings of the “Dear Leader” everywhere.

tom on June 24, 2009 at 2:23 PM

Media is owned by the Toad in Chief, who can’t decide between bbq for 4th of July in embassy and real thuggary/butchery.

Schadenfreude on June 24, 2009 at 2:52 PM

He did not make it clear it was a planned question….
highhopes on June 24, 2009 at 11:00 AM

By saying,

I know that there may actually be questions from people in Iran who are communicating through the Internet.

isn’t Obama implicitly stating that this is planned, that he wants HuffPo to relay a question. The reporter has stated the question itself hadn’t disclosed.

RufusW on June 25, 2009 at 2:26 AM

Completely over the top.

tartan on June 27, 2009 at 10:41 PM