Pressing Obama, &c.

The president during a press conference in 2009


Allow me to draw attention to a dog not barking: President Obama almost never gives press conferences. Now, that’s not the end of the world, as far as I’m concerned. But I have memories of previous administrations . . .

During the eight years of Reagan, the press often slammed the president for not holding more press conferences. And I remember him as being in the East Room, during prime time, quite a lot. Helen Thomas, Sam Donaldson, Bill Curtis — they’d all try their hardest to trip him up.

I have a memory of Clinton, too: After the Lewinsky scandal broke, the press simply could not question the president. He would not appear before them. Oh, once in a while, he’d show up with a foreign leader at his side. That way, it would be uncouth to ask him about perjury, subornation of perjury, blue dresses, and all the rest of it.

George W. Bush? He too, as I recall, was knocked for not holding more press conferences. But he “met the press” a fair amount.

Have you heard the press complain about Barack Obama’s lack of availability? I have, a little. But not much. Remember this the next time there’s a Republican president — there will come a time, won’t there? — and the press complains they don’t get enough chances to grill the top guy.

Early on, President Obama held a press conference. The New York Times reporter asked what had most “enchanted” him about the presidency during his first hundred days.

I thought, “It’s gonna be a long four years. Or eight.”

One of the things I most appreciate Obama for is what he said at his first White House Correspondents’ Association Dinner: “Most of you covered me. All of you voted for me.”

The Associated Press had an article that began, “Israel’s major allies in the West are working hard to talk it out of a unilateral military strike on Iran’s nuclear facilities . . .” I’m thinking, “Major allies, plural?”

The article also said, “The West is appealing to Israel’s self-interest . . .” Reminded me of one of Obama’s most ignorant, most condescending, most arrogant, and most disgusting moments: when he said that Israel had to “engage in serious self-reflection.”

As though Israelis were not self-reflective enough. True, not every citizen of Israel has written two memoirs about himself. But, collectively, you won’t find a more self-reflecting, soul-searching, hand-wringing people.

Finally, the AP quoted Britain’s Nick Clegg: “Of course I worry that there will be a military conflict and that certain countries might seek to take matters into their own hands.”

Uh-huh. Iran has taken matters into its own hands by threatening to annihilate Israel. Israel counts on itself for its defense. In whose hands, exactly, should the Jews of Israel leave their survival? How has that worked out for them, historically?

You can at least understand the country’s anxiety, right?

This report, I found both startling and sobering:

Last year was the deadliest on record for civilians in the Afghan war . . .

Taliban-affiliated militants were responsible for more than three-quarters of the civilian deaths in 2011 . . .

That, I confess, I would not have guessed in the autumn of 2001.

Puzzle this out with me: “President Barack Obama has spent time with around 25 wealthy donors who paid $35,800 each to talk with him behind closed doors at a Washington hotel.” I am quoting a news article, here.


Thirty-five grand, I would well understand. Or 40 grand. Or even $36,000 or $35,500. But $35,800? It seems so . . . specific, doesn’t it?

UPDATE: Ah! The maximum allowed by law. The deal (as I understand it) is, 5 grand to Obama, $30,800 to the DNC. I bet for $35,700, though, you can wave hello. 

So, the Obamas will hold a state dinner for Britain’s Camerons in March. For the first two years or so of his presidency, Obama put some frost in the “special relationship.” This did not sit well with the American public at large. I have a feeling that Obama is running for reelection — that is, I don’t think the upcoming state dinner is irrelevant to the presidential reelection effort.

But maybe that is absurdly cynical . . .

“Two glamorous young couples!” press coverage of the dinner will say.

The governments of Brazil and Cuba are very, very tight — socialist brethren, in a way. Therefore it surprised me when Brazil granted an entry visa to Yoani Sanchez, the dissident blogger.

Not to worry, though: The Cuban Communists have denied her an exit visa — again. So all is well in the Latin American leftist world. (For a news story, go here.)

On the streets of Manhattan over the weekend, a young man with a clipboard stopped me and said, “Would you like to support women’s rights today?” Turned out he was with, or clipboarding for, Planned Parenthood.

Amazing that people associate Planned Parenthood with women’s rights. “Women’s rights” used to mean something — but that was a long time ago, at least in America.


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