The narrative for Obama’s Tuesday press conference has been split between him being an irritable dick and a spineless pussy… like the narrative has been for everything he’s done since entering office.
But either aside, I took issue with Krugman’s interpretation of Obama’s answers as there could be no right answer – and the reason for such is this: Both he and the pundits at the conference were trying to spin Obama’s words instead of listening to his policies.
I watched the thing on Youtube (the only full video transcript being some “watchdog” group called Earth2Obama that recorded C-SPAN) and what struck me was not his answers – he just explained his position four times over the course of an hour with enough dropped hints to drown the room – but the smarmy, baiting questions asked of him.
Asks Fox News and again by CBS, did John McCain influence his words today? “Only I’m the President.” Hint. And both had the audacity to make a snide comment afterwards, too; Fox with the “will you invite Iranian diplomats to the embassy on the Fourth of July?” and CBS with, “aren’t you giving them fodder to blame us for meddling today?” Damned if you do…
Asks AP and again by NBC, will he draw a line in the sand against Iran? “This is the Iranian people’s fight.” Hint – drawing a line is how we got into some other problems.
Asks USA Today and again by ABC, is the health insurance public option non-negotiable? “Who would it harm?” Hint. Retorts USA Today, “won’t that drive private insurers out of business?” “I thought private companies were more efficient than government bureaucracies.” Hint.
Every question was directed towards pinning him to a policy or a number: What’s the upper cap on unemployment? What’s the most we can take before we intervene in Iran? Is the public option sacrosanct? The political fallout from being held to one of those is far more severe than the steady hand at the till of policy-making and diplomacy. There is a time for hard lines, sure, but the questions were not made in good faith.