By Dan Kennedy • The press, politics, technology, culture and other passions

Live-blogging Obama’s news conference

I’ll be live-blogging President Obama’s news conference tonight. If you like multi-tasking, please drop by a few minutes before 8 p.m.

8:00: Bill Bennett, on CNN, says independents now favor Republicans. But Real Clear Politics average on Obama’s job-approval rating shows the president at 61.2 percent favorable, 30.5 percent unfavorable. Who are these independents?

8:04: Cites Geithner’s bank plan. Good timing for news conference — Geithner finally got off the mat yesterday.

8:06: “I’m as angry as anybody about those bonuses” but “we’re all in this together.”

8:07: Much shorter opening statement this time.

8:11: Chuck Todd: Why haven’t you asked the American people to sacrifice, given that some (who?) have compared the economic crisis to war? But Chuck — the crisis is eased when people spend.

8:15: Still thinking about Todd’s question. What does it even mean? Savings rate is higher than it’s been in many years — and that’s a big part of the problem.

8:19: Chip Reid of CBS News another economic ignoramus: Isn’t that debt what you were referring to when you said we didn’t want to pass it on to next generation?

8:20: Obama: I inherited a huge deficit from Republicans. My budget will drive it down.

8:26: The questions show a fundamental lack of understanding that, in the midst of an economic crisis, the best approach for the federal government to take is to spend in order to offset at least part of the lack of spending by the private sector. If anything, as Krugman keeps pointing out, Obama isn’t doing enough.

8:27: Mexican reporter asks about drug violence in her country and spillover effect on the border. Who let her in? Serious, substantive questions not allowed.

8:31: Obama’s lost in the weeds responding to a question from Stars and Stripes on military spending. Or, to be more accurate, he’s led us into the weeds and now we’re lost.

8:33: Ed Henry of CNN: Why is Andrew Cuomo getting better results going after AIG than you and Geithner? Good question. Then, before Obama can answer, he follows it up with another dumb budget question. Not surprisingly, Obama chooses to answer the dumb budget question.

8:36: Obama on why he waited to express anger at AIG: “It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I’m talking about before I speak.”

8:40: Mike Allen of Politico: Are you reconsidering tax deduction for health care and charity? Do you wish you hadn’t made that promise? Obama: We would return to the Reagan percentages, and it would only affect one percent of the American people. If you’re rich, you’d be able to write off 28 percent of charitable deductions, not 39 percent.

8:43: Allen: Charities say this will hurt giving. Obama: No, it won’t. What really hurts charities is an economy that isn’t working.

8:46: Ann Compton of ABC News: How is race affecting your presidency? Obama: I’ve been focused on the economy. Racial significance of inauguration “lasted about a day.” “Are we taking the steps to improve liquidity in the financial markets, create jobs, get businesses to reopen, keep America safe.”

8:48: Washington Times guy: How much did you wrestle with your conscience over embryonic-stem-cell research? Half a nanosecond is my guess as to what would be a truthful answer.

8:52: Agence France-Presse guy: How are you going to bring peace to the Israeli-Palestinian confrontation given Israel’s new anti-Palestinian government? Funny — no mention of Hamas’ terrorism against Israel. Obama: Former enemies in Ireland celebrated in the White House on St. Patrick’s Day. “What that tells me is that if you stick to it, if you are persistent, then these problems can be dealt with…. I’m a big believer in persistence.”

8:56: “We’re moving in the right direction.” Geithner now has a plan. We’ve reached out to Iran, but that will take time. We haven’t eliminated the influence of lobbyists immediately, nor have we eliminated pork-barrel spending. The idea is to keep moving forward. “This is a big ocean liner, it’s not a speedboat. It doesn’t turn around immediately.” But after four years, I hope people will see we’ve moved in the right direction.

8:57: And that was that.

9:03: Bill O’Reilly: He was boring! Karl Rove: “I think he’s sort of an arrogant guy.” Now they are sharing their deep knowledge of economics.

9:06: O’Reilly: When I interviewed Obama, man, I was so great.

Final word: I’ll be wrapping up morning commentary for The Guardian tomorrow. But it strikes me that what we saw tonight was the normalization of the Obama presidency. This was no big deal, very much unlike his last prime-time news conference. Obama seemed to feel free to deflect stupid questions. It helped that Geithner’s having a nice little two-day run.

People should pay attention to Obama’s closing, in which he talked about persistence and the long run. It’s how he got elected. And it seems to be how he approaches politics, and life.

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35 Comments

  1. Marcela

    I didn’t get Todd’s question either! What kind of answer was he looking for?! People are already sacrificing sooo much…!

  2. An Astute Observer

    **the best approach for the federal government to take is to spend in order to offset at least part of the lack of spending by the private sector.**This is not a given.Not everyone agrees that this is the best way to deal with this.

  3. O'Rion

    I don’t like the preset nature of the press call-order. I’d just issue numbers (randomly) as the corps arrive, and briskly go in numerical order. This conference had a setup feel. It doesn’t mean other participants would ask better questions, but it would be more effective for TV if it didn’t appear to be a lecture. There’s no reason why Obama can’t go through 20 questions per hour.

  4. Dan Kennedy

    Not So Astute: Not everyone believes in evolution, either. I was limiting my remarks to those who actually have some understanding of the problem.

  5. An Astute Observer

    **I was limiting my remarks to those who actually have some understanding of the problem.**Thats a mighty arrogant response.(And I didn’t realize you were a trained economist.)

  6. Dan Kennedy

    Not So Astute: I am an arrogant guy. I have never denied it. I’m not an economist, but I know where to get reliable information. Care to cite some economists, as opposed to politicians?

  7. An Astute Observer

    NPR just did a story on the dueling opinions:”Our crack economics duo, Producer Alex Blumberg and NPR International Economics Correspondent Adam Davidson, on how a dead, slutty, elitist British man, John Maynard Keynes, is about to take over the American economy. President Obama’s new stimulus plan relies on Keynes’ theory, which says that government can spend its way out of a downward economic spiral.”No one knows what will work. It’s all just theories at this pointAnd Keynes theory is just that….a theory.Jeesh, you buy everything that comes out of the Obama administration hook, line and sinker, don’t you?How about some independent thought…and not just following like sheep?

  8. Dan Kennedy

    Not So Astute: In some respects, Obama isn’t doing enough. He should throw the sickest banks into receivership. The stimulus package probably wasn’t big enough. Your definition of “independent thought” is to critique Obama from the right. There are other, more rational vantage points from which to critique him.

  9. Nial Liszt

    Not disagreeing here, but Politifact Truth-O-Meter reports that not all economists agree with strong government intervention.

  10. An Astute Observer

    **Your definition of “independent thought” is to critique Obama from the right.**No, my idea of independent thought is to look at everything critically.I didn’t knock Obama…just your assumption that: “everyone knows this will work” *There are other, more rational vantage points from which to critique him.**And your assumption that anyone who disagrees with the Keynes theory is “irrational”.**but Politifact Truth-O-Meter reports that not all economists agree with strong government intervention.**There ya’ go!Sorry Dan…but you are making less and less of a pretense of looking at anything balanced. Just drinking the Kool-Aid.

  11. cavard

    Dan, you didn’t think I wasn’t going to respond to your Hamas observation did you? LOL! I’ll keep it brief. I think it’s time the American media start questioning Israel’s role in the Mideast. The reporter from the Agence France Press is asking questions most journalists in the European media have been asking for a long time now. In Europe, the media in general understands the context of the situation. Don’t get me wrong. I know Hamas is conducting acts of violence and they are doing it with horrible means. I totally condemn it, but we have to understand that these actions are the effects of the occupation. It’s the longest military occupation in modern history. It’s entering its 35th year. It’s a harsh and brutal military occupation. It’s extremely violent. American consumers of news do not see this. At least IMO for many Americans, this hasn’t even registered on their radars yet and on top of that, American media consumers continue to get an inaccurate account of what’s happening on the ground in Palestine. It’s time we as American journalists start asking questions along these same lines as the person from Agence France Press. Why? Because it’s the right thing and the accurate thing to do. I think that was a wise question to ask Obama and I think it reflects a lot of what people are perceiving re: the new Israeli government. Especially with Avigdor Lieberman and Ben Netanyahu in high level positions. Look beyond the surface and you’ll see they are hardliners. That’s cause for concern, especially in terms of negotiating peace.

  12. lkcape

    I’m not an economist, but I know where to get reliable information.”It’s not a question of where you get your information, it is a question of whether you are getting ALL of the information needed and what you do with it.You may wish to expand from the limited set that see the Obama administration’s current path as destined to succeed.There are serious economists, left and right, who have grave doubts.President Obama has the problem of not controlling all of the levers of power and not being able to shape daily life according to his plan.That may be a blessing for the American public.The President was clearly uncomfortable in his presentation and had real problems hiding the fact that he was still using his trademark teleprompter. (Maybe he should just let us read it to ourselves and save himself from the awkwardness and criticism.)The most telling scene was the sight of Rahm Emmanuel grinning like a puppet master from the side lines.Sorry. I was no where near as impressed as you, Dan, with either form or substance.

  13. Dan Kennedy

    cavard: Just to be clear — I’m horrified that Netanyahu is going to be the next prime minister, and even more horrified that he’s gone to his right to form a government.That said, we have to ask ourselves why the Israeli people voted for right-wing parties. It is because they are subjected to relentless terrorism, day in and day out.

  14. Nicole Goodhue Boyd

    Dan, you should check out coveritlive.comIt’s a better way to live blog. -N

  15. mike_b1

    Astute: I think you meant “hypothesis.” A theory is something that’s proven. Like evolution.I found the response to the question about the Mexican border curious if only because Obama either forgot or declined to note that America’s appetite for illegal drugs is causing the problem. When my kids hit 10, I’m going to tack a photo of a dead Mexican police officer to their bedroom doors and remind them that somewhere there’s a family without a father because someone in the US decided they needed to be a pothead.

  16. mike_b1

    To all those criticizing the economic plan, Obama responded best: What’s your idea? Fact is, you’d be criticizing him no matter what he does.

  17. bostonmediawatch

    Chuck Todd asked basically the same question at the first press conference.I can’t say he’s a disappointment, because I thought he’d suck. He makes David Gregory look like Jack Anderson.Hey Dan, the Herald really helps out with undoing the Girl Scout cookie image today…no, not really.

  18. NewsHound

    To create wealth we need people working in a productive way, not sitting home collecting unemployment. The quicker we can get out of this mess the sooner we can begin to restore and build wealth. The money being pumped into the system does not create nor destroy wealth. It merely redistributes what wealth we have left. There is frictional cost in moving all this money around, and a distraction from other pertinent problems our nation faces, but this setback is also doing a lot of good by exposing bad habits to our civilization which we should hope are corrected going forward.Some people have and continue to become unjustly wealthy while others suffer undue sacrifice and we have to hope this is corrected, too.

  19. cavard

    Dan. That’s fair. What’s the source? Just so I know. I won’t turn this into a back and forth Israel-Palestine debate.In the meantime, there’s another source worth looking at http://www.ifamericansknew.org/stats/deaths.html Although there may be attacks, there are far more Palestinians victims that come at the hands of Israeli aggression.

  20. Bill Baar

    What’s your idea?Stimulus should have been a FICA tax holiday for the next year. That’s it. Forget the pork bill…Real problem is credit freeze… the Bank plan may solve it.Freeze budget at current levels. Terminate the idiot who suggested charging insurance companies of combat vets for treatment on service connected injuries.Focus on Health Care like maybe start to fill some appointments at HHS.Otherwise he spins his wheels on stuff better not done, and not the stuff that should be done.PS Get comfortable enough in your job you don’t need the teleprompter or big screen TV.

  21. Dan Kennedy

    Not So Astute: Do not post copyrighted material to this blog (or anywhere else). I just removed an entire Associated Press story that you posted in full. It would be illegal in any case, but the AP has been rather aggressive about asserting its legal rights online.You really are not so astute, aren’t you?

  22. mike_b1

    Bill B, to your last comment, unlike his predecessor, at least Obama knows how to pronounce polysyllabic words.If Yale and Harvard didn’t rescind GWB’s degrees for this one — “They can get in line like those who have been here legally and have been working to become a citizenship in a legal manner.” — GWB, Dec. 20, 2004I’m sure they wanted to for this:”I think he needs to stand up and say if he thought the president were wrong on policy and issues, he ought to say where.” – GWB, Aug. 11, 2000The teleprompter “issue” is a diversion. I think we have bigger fish to fry.

  23. An Astute Observer

    Astute enough to know that the AP could care less about an article posted in the ‘comments’ section of a blogger.Astute enough to know how to get you to read an article.Here is the ‘fair use’ citation:http://apnews.excite.com/article/20090325/D97540HG0.htmlEU presidency: US economic plans ‘a road to hell’Mar 25, 10:31 AM (ET)By RAF CASERTSTRASBOURG, France (AP) – The president of the European Union on Wednesday slammed U.S. plans to spend its way out of recession as “a road to hell.”Astute enough to notice you dodge an issue.But what should we expect from a NPR, PBS, academic?

  24. mike_b1

    Not so astute:1. This while the EU Central Bank is giving scores of billions to Member states as part of its own financial bailout plan.2. The EU has an emergency bailout fund set up for its Members.3. The EU is offering up to $500 billion to the IMF, which would in turn be dispersed to EU Members.4. Other EU leaders immediately declared EU president (Topolanek) an idiot.5. Topolanek is calling for greater regulation over all financial institutions, something that is anathema to US conservatives (motto: “If government is watching, how can we rip anyone off?”).6. Topolanek is Czech. Nuf said.Do as I say, not as I do.

  25. An Astute Observer

    I didn’t know Mike_b1 has enough qualifications to be president of the EU!

  26. mike_b1

    Well, I’m not European, so that pretty much eliminates me from contention.But then, you voted for McCain, a guy who is as unAmerican as they come, so I don’t suppose one’s nationality really comes on your radar.

  27. An Astute Observer

    >>But then, you voted for McCain…Where did I say I voted for McCain?>>McCain, a guy who is as unAmerican as they come…I guess those years as a prisoner of war make him, what? A non-American?

  28. An Astute Observer

    BTW b1….How’s your Governor doing in the state house?http://www.suffolk.edu/images/content/edited.FINAL.Suffolk.Marginals.March.20.2009.pdf

  29. mike_b1

    Traitor McCain sold out the American soldiers by writing a bill (“The McCain Bill”) that effectively sealed the government’s records of POWs/MIAs permanently. Which meant that the jobs of those looking for POWs/MIAs became immensely more difficult. He basically put his political career (if you could call a couple of bills written over nearly 30 years a career) ahead of the lives of thousands of soldiers and their relatives. (My guess is he had a Vietnamese mistress or something that he was trying to hide.) Either way, that’s unAmerican. He belongs in a military prison, or hung by his neck, or preferably both.And I would say Patrick is doing just about the same as the governors of Texas and Florida and Mississippi and Alabama and Louisiana and every other state where there’s a budget crisis. In other words, all of them. He’s no more or less of a rockhead than they are. So you hate him because he’s black. That’s your problem, not mine.

  30. An Astute Observer

    **Traitor McCain sold out the American soldiers….**I think your credibility just went out the window.**So you hate him because he’s black. **Ummmm…Earth to b1?Can you please show me anything I said that would lead you to such an assumption?

  31. mike_b1

    Read the McCain Bill, Not-So-Astute.Or better yet, read this: http://www.nationinstitute.org/p/schanberg09182008pt1He sold out not only his fellow soldiers, he neglected the entire Constitution in the process.He should be shot at dawn.

  32. An Astute Observer

    Misinformed Mike:So, b1 speaks for all vets everywhere? (Are you vet?)Most veterans groups have no problem with McCain.

  33. mike_b1

    Nice dodge. Just like your hero, George Bush. You don’t dispute McCain f*ed other vets. You just complain that he’s getting called out on it. Another chickenhawk. Just as I thought. Bawk, bawk, bawk.

  34. An Astute Observer

    Misinformed Mike said:**Nice dodge. Just like your hero, George Bush.**Please point me to where I said Geo Bush was my hero? Nice distraction.*You just complain that he’s getting called out on it. **I make no judgment on McCain. I just question that you (a non-vet) are the only one “calling him out on it” and “Calling for him to be shot”. If he screwed the Vets, I’d look to vets to tell me so…not an ideological anonymous commenter with no credibility.You accused me of not liking Deval cuz he’s black….and that I look to Geo Bush as “my hero”.You can just make up something else if you like…But it’s all distraction, as this thread was based on the Keynesian theory of buying/borrowing your way out of a crisis.Nial Liszt said… “Not disagreeing here, but Politifact Truth-O-Meter reports that not all economists agree with strong government intervention.”Again, no comments from you, just distraction.And then lkcape said:”It’s not a question of where you get your information, it is a question of whether you are getting ALL of the information needed and what you do with it.”

  35. mike_b1

    Oh, did I say I’m not a vet? Show me where.Want (other) vets’ opinions? Read the article. Then come back and spew your hate.

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