For just under an hour on Tuesday night, Americans saw not the fiery and inspirational speaker who riveted the nation in his address to Congress last month, or the conversational president who warmly engaged Americans in talks across the country, or even the jaunty and jokey president who turned up on Jay Leno.
Instead, in his second prime-time news conference from the White House, it was Barack Obama the lecturer, a familiar character from early in the campaign. Placid and unsmiling, he was the professor in chief, offering familiar arguments in long paragraphs - often introduced with the phrase, "as I said before: - sounding like the teacher speaking in the stillness of a classroom where students are restlessly waiting for the ring of the bell.
Hooo---ee! Barack Obama stars as Sybil! And, along with his apparent myriad of personalities, he has a myriad of agendas as well. But rest assured that "the bottom line is that I want to see health care, energy, education and serious efforts to reduce our budget deficit." Uh-huh. Isn't calling for all those in one sentence kind of like a fat person saying that they want more food, more fried food, more desserts, and to lose weight?
Also... we need to feel comfort in the fact that Barack Obama is "as angry as anybody about those [AIG] bonuses." And for executives, "enriching themselves on the taxpayers' dime is inexcusable." What I think is kind of funny is that there's this irritation... this anger... this rage - towards "executives." What about the blasted politicians? Are they not enriching themselves on the taxpayers' dime? Are they not the ones making the decisions to give taxpayer money to these failing corporations?
The NYT goes on to say:
He showed his usual comfort with a wide array of subjects, even as he excluded the nation's big newspapers from the questioning in favor of a more eclectic mix. (Perhaps this sentence alone explains why the article was opened with criticism of Obama.) He signaled that the new conservative government in Israel could make achieving a peace deal more difficult. (Why is it always the conservatives' fault? None of the other governments have been able to achieve a peace deal, either... at least not one by which the Arabs are willing to actually live!) He expressed patience about dealing with Iran. And he defended his proposal to increase the tax burden on the wealthy.
Well... I can't say that I agree with much that Barack Obama says or does. I do think that he's right when he says there's no peace deal coming in Israel - but I don't think he's right in assuming that has anything to do with the conservative government. It's just really hard to broker a peace deal with people who insist that your entire race needs to be dead before there will be peace.
And I also think it's interesting that he expressed patience with Iran. Really, what's the alternative? Bomb the hell out of them? If "patience" means holding down the nasty rhetoric, then fine. If "patience" means that we're not going to annihilate them just yet, okay. If "patience" means that we're going to compromise American principles and forsake Israel in order to play kissy-face with the Iranian government, well -- that's not okay.
All in all, it's good to hear that the New York Times was bored with words coming out of Barack Obama's mouth. Usually they only hear the angels singing and respond with a resounding "HOSANNA!"