A prophet in his hometown: press relations nightmare

It’s only the first day of the Tony Rezko trial, testimony has yet to be heard, and already the press has gotten to Barack Obama. Faced with a new focus on his ties to the defendant in a corruption case and exposed missteps in his NAFTA dance, Obama stalked out of a press conference with questions ringing in his ears (via Instapundit):

Led by the Chicago press corps that has covered Obama for years, the candidate today faced a barrage of questions in what turned out to be a contentious news conference.

Questions centered on why his campaign had denied that a meeting occurred between his chief economic advisor and Canadian officials as well as questions on his relationship with Tony Rezko, a Chicago land developer and fast food magnate, now on trial for corruption charges. …

Much of the back and forth, though, between reporters and Obama was about his relationship with Tony Rezko, with reporters demanding to know why new details were emerging from the case though Obama and his staff had claimed they had been forthright with all the details.

Obama and Carol Marin, political editor at NBC5 in Chicago and columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times, tangled over how up front Obama had been about Rezko. Obama cut off her line of questioning, saying that Marin’s questions were personally motivated.

Hmmm. It appears that the local press has managed to do what the national media could not — treat Obama as a politician and not a secular messiah. They asked tough questions about Obama’s political connections to a fixer and his campaign’s outright false answers on an Obama adviser’s contacts with Canadian diplomats regarding Obama’s rhetoric on NAFTA. Instead of handling the questions calmly and patiently, Obama accused the media of having an agenda against him, and then angrily stalked off.

Compare this to the press conference John McCain held after the New York Times smeared him by accusing him of having a sexual affair with a lobbyist. Not only did McCain — whose temper has its own zip code, according to some Capitol Hill staffers — give a lengthy and reserved statement, but then stood at the podium until the reporters ran out of questions. In fact, at the end, McCain had to ask twice whether anyone had anything else to ask him before leaving the podium.

By my count, McCain answered 36 questions in this press conference. How many did Obama take before walking off in a huff?

Many people profess concern that McCain lacks the proper temperament for the presidency. Instead, they should wonder just how a President Obama would deal with the press and with the accountability that comes with the office. If today’s press conference gives any indication, it looks like Obama has some temper and judgment issues of his own — or that the questions strike a little too close to home.