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Barack Obama's delivery of no news is quite smooth

Tuesday morning The Ticket examined the White House's current political strategy and asked the question of who would show up at Barack Obama's second nationally televised news conference that evening: the president or the senator?

The answer: Neither.

Professor Barack Obama showed up.

And if you remember one of those required college lecture courses in the large auditorium at 8:10 a.m., listening to a droning don, and how it felt, slumped in the cushy seats having skipped breakfast for an extra 13 minutes of ZZZZs.

Democratic president Barack Obama gestures during his White House news conference 3-24-09

This is the problem with trying to drive the political debate by scheduling a prime-time news conference nearly a week in advance. It gets superseded by events, especially by Treasury Secretary Timothy F. Geithner's financial package finally.

True, Obama created real problems in his first national news conference by promising Geithner would deliver too much the next day. And when the inarticulate bureaucrat didn't, the markets plummeted.

But this news conference seemed anticlimactic. (See video below.) At times the president appeared to be mailing in his delivery.

He made no notable news and did so quite smoothly. Unless sticking by his guns over cutting charitable deductions is news.

And the former constitutional law professor did go on in his answers, perhaps not by accident. Holding the floor is another means of control for any president. Like males hold the TV remotes.

The result: only 13 questions in 57 minutes.

And as The Ticket noted during its live blogging, not one single question on either war, including the one the commander in chief recently ordered 17,000 more Americans to march into.

Nothing holding the president to account for the conflicting timelines on who knew what when about the stunning AIG bonuses. Nothing asking him to detail the incredible $40 billion in savings he claims to have discovered in defense spending.

Even when the president was confronted with a blunt question of whether he'd accept the budget without certain favored provisions, he passed up the chance for a clear answer for one re-expressing his confidence that after the legislators have their way with the proposal, he'd get his budget the way he wants it. That's the standard bargaining stance this early in the process, even when the president's own party controls both sides of Capitol Hill.

But claiming "complete confidence" means absolutely nothing. It is every politician's fudged admission that they're dodging a real answer. And usually a dead giveaway of the exact opposite.

Gone from the presidential podium were the ubiquitous, much-noted teleprompters that gave rise to embarrassing suggestions that Obama needs to be fed his words to avoid Special Olympics or Nancy Reagan gaffes. In the twin teleprompters' place? A larger teleprompter in the back of the room where no one watching on TV could see it.

The result for anyone who stayed for the entire presentation was another lengthy, somber less-than-animated sales pitch on the need to spend trillions to jump-start the economy, which he sees promising signs of already at least with one Pennsylvania company (though still not yet Caterpillar), and how we're going to somehow move from an era of spending and greed to an era of savings by spending so much we're gonna double or maybe triple the national debt by the time a two-term Obama would be two years into improving his retirement bowling at Sun City.

Every new president gets a couple of these gimme news conferences, even if this one did bump something as sacred as "American Idol."  But another one of these news-less news conferences, and the broadcast networks may well leave it to cable and C-SPAN in order to stimulate their own economies. Such emptiness causes the newness of a new administration to start appearing old.

BTW, the full text of the Obama news session is available here. View a brief news video summary by scrolling down or clicking on the "Read more" line below here.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Photo: Chip Somodeville / Getty Images

 
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Obama & Freedom Of The Press


President Barack Obama is taking a lot of well deserved heat from the press lately. As it has become apparent that the honeymoon is over with the media who got him elected, he and his team have overtly begun to attempt to avoid the traditional White House press course reaching out to liberal commentators, local reporters and ethnic media more friendly to his messaging.
The best examples of the new approach was the President giving an interview to progressive radio host Ed Schults and Obama calling on a reporter from the left leaning Huffington Post at his first news conference, signaling his disdain and intent. When he released his ambitious spending plan the administration put White House budget director Peter Orszag on a conference call with non traditional administration friendly writers and not the White House Press Corps. Rahm Emmanual has been hitting the African American and Hispanic media outlets heavily to drum up support.

The first amendment it is said that "Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances." Obama may be the first President fully able to avoid press and its ability to redress grievances of the people.

We can only hope the Press Corps is up to the challenge of bringing the fight for truth and justice to the Administration, challenging the man they helped to put in the White House. The Press conference on 3/24 offered little hope given the questions and who he asked.

A large screen TV instead of the teleprompers? Big surprise here. The "One" can't string a sentenance together without help. Kind of reminds me of the movie Wizard of Oz where they pulled the curtain back and found out who really was running the show. The TOTUS is really the "One." And people thought Bush was a dunce. This guy is cluless.

Amateur Hour. Again. And the Commander in Chief Obama NEVER shows up.

Next time, could I have the transcript of the press conference before it starts?

Is the President really concerned that India will '"lap us" in education and that we therefore need billions more in spending? Has he never been to India? Or seen Slumdog Millionaire?

India is a profoundly poor and over populated country. Their spending on education per child is afraction of ours. What we need is not more spending but better use of the billions we spend on education already, and more involved parents.

More money will not keep us ahead. If India is indeed lapping us, that in itself is proof that education is not all about money.

only 13 questions in 57 minutes...that tells it all! All hot air, bluff and bluster...it takes a lot of time to fool the people...we're in trouble!

A professor? As in, someone who is studied and knowledgeable?

I can't imagine anything more irksome to someone who's worked for a Bush than that. Didn't he talk about "recovery.com", Andy?

I am again humiliated and embarrassed that I actually came to this blog. Is the problem with your crappy rightwing "reporting" or that I expect more?

I agree- totes boring! Where were the funny Presidential nicknames that lifted a frightened nation's spirits when we were going to war? Wasn't he supposed to be all punch drunk? All the coolest cable TV people said he was punch drunk. After he was too serious about all these "problems" he says we have. Get it right, Professor Brain Guy! You can't expect reporters to evaluate things they aren't interested in. Press conferences are like parties for reporters and no one wants to go to a boring party :(.

jealous, much?

Obama's administration announced a trillion-dollar fix to the banking crisis the day before, and you say he wasn't making any news? Maybe you should hold your outrage for a couple of days in case you'd like to "know what you're talking about before speaking."

Myself???I was cheering my president on with each repetitive remark.He was addressing the dolt-heads in Congress who will NOT LISTEN..and will not learn FROM THEIR COSTLY MISTAKES led by the dolt whom they gave a free pass to at every turn.
Hello America!!!We have a keeper in office.2 months into office he hit the ground running and is attempting to turn this mislead country around.
Stop the mean-spirited remarks and come up with some constructive thoughtsw on the issue at hand.

God forbid, a whole hour of substantive, intelligent dialogue! Must be so boring for press gossips like you.


(MONOlogue actually.)

Obama just likes to hear himself talk.

Dude shoulda announced that we're invading a new Middle Eastern country for no good reasons. That would've been EXCITING!!!!

Sorry your job is so boring. Have you considered giving it to an American who is interested in what the President of the United States has to say?

I don't understand why people are acting as if teleprompters are these strange new inventions created solely for Barack Obama, nor do I understand why its news that he sounds better giving a prepared speech than answering a question that he has to formulate an answer to on the spot. Who doesn't? More importantly, as long as he arrives at a well-thought out, nuanced, and informative answer, why does it matter?

If you were bored, you can imagine how I feel when I read your blog.


(And yet here you are reading all the way through and bothering to leave a comment. That's the kind of reader involvement we appreciate. Thanks much.)

Visualize a 9 year old trying to land a 747 in a 40 knot wind.

I feel that the president was talked too me like I am an idiot.

On and on .....

Pray to your God that we survive.

The media really doesn't get it. If Obama makes a joke, he isn't taking things seriously. If he is serious, he's boring. If he's oratorical, then it's all hot air. If he focuses on policy, it's not inspirational.

Really, I'm more worried that our so-called reporters can't bother to pay attention to a subject for 60 long minutes. This is you f###ing job.

If my tax accountant said he couldn't finish my tax form because "math is boring", I'd fire his a##.

Pres. Obama is over-exposed. His flat affect and detached monotone put him at more risk of being boring than would otherwise be the case.

Obama needs to answer the question, what did he know about the AIG bonuses and when did he know it?

Did Timothy Geithner tell Sen. Chris Dodd to dilute the executive compensation restrictions section of the stimulus bill to protect AIG bonuses? Why didn't Obama and his administration prevent the bonuses from being given out in the first place?

Obama is neither consistent nor credible on the AIG bonus question, and he needs to inspire confidence, not doubt.

Spin is no substitute for consistency.

What a waste of prime time. When a reporter from CNN demanded that Obama simply answer the question asked and not go into a pre scripted rant, The "smartest man in the world" lapsed into a spit of anger and showed his true colors.

Bail!Bail!Bail! Spend! Spend!Spend! That's how our president know to do

All this 13 questions in 57 minutes meme is really quite simple to explain. Rather than giving short sound bytes he went indepth in answering each question. But by all means carry on idiots..the sky is falling, etc etc

If Congress or the SEnate does not stop Obama he will have United STates ba=
nkrupt during his first year in office, which I think that is what he is tr=
ying to do.=A0 I think is goal is to destroy our country. I would not trust=
the man as far as I could throw and elephant by the tail.=A0 I think he is=
hell bent on destroying America or making it a completely socialist or com=
mnist country just like his beliefs are.=A0 You help people by giving them =
an incentive to better themselves.=A0 Why should I get an education, work m=
y butt off building a business=A0 or working my way up through the corporat=
e world just to have the hades taxed out of me so Obama can give it to peop=
le to lazy to try and better themselves, lady it can be done because I did =
it.=A0 I think there are going to be millions of people very sorry they vot=
ed for the Great God Obama.=A0 He seems to think he is the messiah that has=
come to this great country.=A0=A0 I did not take a mortar shell in Korea f=
or
our country to become a share the wealth socialist nation.=A0 I believe yo=
u should try to make it on your own without depending on the government to =
hand feed, clothe, house you on the backs of people that put forth an effor=
t.=A0=20
Wm. L. Patterson
Shreveport, La.

Re: Maria Conzemius' post, "Obama needs to answer the question, what did he know about the AIG bonuses and when did he know it?...Why didn't Obama and his administration prevent the bonuses from being given out in the first place?" It seems that Maria and most other posters don't read anything but blogs and editorials. It has been well documented in the mainstream press that the bonuses in question were contracted in early 2008, some of them as far back as January 2008! Folks, please be informed first! Legislative prevention of future bonuses has already been put in place. The furor is over contracts made some time ago, and the recent or imminent payouts.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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