When President Obama kicked off his bleak midwinter press conference Friday afternoon by referring to his upcoming Hawaiian vacation, it was plain for all to see that this is a man who can’t get out of town a minute too soon. ”I know you are all eager to skip town and spend some time with your families,” he said. “Not surprisingly, I am too.” Not surprising at all. The press was, in the words of the National Journal, “feisty.”
When the New York Times reporter Jackie Calmes was called upon, she saluted the president with a Hawaiian words ”Mele Kalikimaka.” A suck-up appeared imminent. But only for a split second. Calmes wanted to know the president’s reaction to ”the nonpartisan truth-telling group PolitiFact when it said that the ‘Lie of the Year’ was your statement that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it?” Guessing he didn’t like it, though he dodged this question in all its many splendored forms. It was the question du jour.
A press conference is always a good opportunity to see the president, to get a read on his mood. But you wish you could tweet questions to the ladies and gentlemen of the press. They don’t seem to grasp the idea that a press conference, used right, can be an opportunity to obtain in-for-ma-tion. When, for example, the president said that he had met “every other week or every three weeks” with “folks” to prepare for the implementation of Obamacare, you wanted to know more. Who were these folks? Was it every three weeks or every other week, Mr. President? And didn’t you feel overworked at that frenetic pace?
I do think, based on the press conference, we learned something important: what the new Obamacare meme will be. It appears it will be something along the lines of, “What do you mean not working? It’s a huge success.” Why, as the president noted, a million Americans are “poised” to get health care through Obamacare. Oh, and it’s called the Affordable Care Act now.
Still, as far as I can tell, he only told one overt whopper: “I promise you,” the president said, responding to questions about his horrible year, ”I probably beat myself up, you know, even worse that you or Ed Henry does — (laughter) — on any given day.” Nah. I don’t know about Mr. Henry, but does anybody seriously believe President Obama beats himself up?
Charlotte Hays is author of When Did White Trash Become the New Normal.