Thursday, April 30, 2009

Obama's 100 Day Press Conference

  View from the Podium

Here's what President Obama saw as he addressed the assembled White House Press Corps:

He was a very happy man.  He knew that there wouldn't be any difficult or "gotcha" questions, just another cake walk with the sheep.

It's amazing!  With the significantly difficult economic environment that currently exists; over a hundred major metropolitan areas experiencing double digit inflation; major banks requiring even more capital; the largest economic stimulus plan ever enacted, and apparently not working yet;  the largest budget ever proposed, $3.5 Trillion, about to be passed and signed; Russia formalizing it's occupation of Georgia's renegade provinces, Abkazia and South Ossetia; even the massive scare that Obama's team dealt New York City; a reasonable person would assume that the Press Corps would play their role in our democracy and ask just a few probing questions.  Instead, we were treated to a fawning and obsequious herd of sheep being lead off to be sheared.....

Here's the questions, if you missed it, or want to review to nonsense that the shepherd sang to the flock, click here for the transcript.

OBAMA: I will start taking some questions.  And I'll start with you, Jennifer.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. With the flu outbreak spreading and worsening, can you talk about whether you think it's time to close the border with Mexico and whether -- under what conditions you might consider quarantining, when that might be appropriate?
OBAMA:  Deb Price of Detroit News. Where's Deb?  Good to see you.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.
On the domestic auto industry, have you determined that bankruptcy is the only option to restructure Chrysler? And do you believe that the deep cuts in plant closings that were outlined this week by General Motors are sufficient? 
OBAMA:   Jake? Where's Jake? There he is.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You've said in the past that waterboarding, in your opinion, is torture. Torture is a violation of international law and the Geneva Conventions. Do you believe that the previous administration sanctioned torture?
OBAMA: Mark Knoller?
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. Let me follow up, if I may, on Jake's question. Did you read the documents recently referred to by former Vice President Cheney and others saying that the use of so-called "enhanced interrogation techniques" not only protected the nation but saved lives?
And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?
OBAMA: Chuck Todd.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. I want to move to Pakistan. Pakistan appears to be at war with the Taliban inside their own country. Can you reassure the American people that if necessary America could secure Pakistan's nuclear arsenal and keep it from getting into the Taliban's hands or, worst case scenario, even al Qaeda's hands?
OBAMA:  OK, Jeff Mason?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. One of the biggest changes you've made in the first 100 days regarding foreign policy has had to do with Iraq. But do the large-scale -- there's large-scale violence there right now. Does that affect the U.S.'s strategy at all for withdrawal? And could it affect the timetable that you've set out for troops?
OBAMA:  Chip Reid?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. On Senator Specter's switch to the Democratic Party, you said you were thrilled; I guess nobody should be surprised about that.
But how big a deal is this, really? Some Republicans say it is huge. They believe it's a game-changer. They say that, if you get the 60 votes in the Senate, that you will be able to ride roughshod over any opposition and that we're on the verge of, as one Republican put it, "one-party rule."
Do you see it that way? And, also, what do you think his switch says about the state of the Republican Party?
QUESTION: Is the Republican Party in the desperate straits that Arlen Specter seems to think it is? OBAMA:  Ed Henry?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. In a couple of weeks, you're going to be giving the commencement at Notre Dame. And, as you know, this has caused a lot of controversy among Catholics who are opposed to your position on abortion.
As a candidate, you vowed that one of the very things you wanted to do was sign the Freedom of Choice Act, which, as you know, would eliminate federal, state and local restrictions on abortion. And at one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life, you said that it was above -- quote, "above my pay grade."
Now that you've been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were a senator.
(LAUGHTER) Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?
OBAMA:  Jeff Zeleny.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.  During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most?
OBAMA: Now let me write this down.
OBAMA:  OK. Lori Montenegro?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. Mr. President, when you met with the Hispanic Caucus a few weeks ago, reports came out that the White House was planning to have a forum to talk about immigration and bring it to the forefront.
Going forward, my question is, what is your strategy to try to have immigration reform? And are you still on the same timetable to have it accomplished in the first year of your presidency?
And, also, I'd like to know if you're going to reach out to Senator John McCain , who is Republican and in the past has favored immigration reform?
OBAMA: Andre Showell? There you go.
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President.  As the entire nation tries to climb out of this deep recession, in communities of color, the circumstances are far worse. The black unemployment rate, as you know, is in the double digits. And in New York City, for example, the black unemployment rate for men is near 50 percent.
My question to you tonight is given this unique and desperate circumstance, what specific policies can you point to that will target these communities and what's the timetable for us to see tangible results?
OBAMA:  Michael Scherer of TIME?
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. During the campaign, you criticized President Bush's use of the state secrets privilege, but U.S. attorneys have continued to argue the Bush position in three cases in court. How exactly does your view of state secrets differ from President Bush's? And do you believe presidents should be able to derail entire lawsuits about warrantless wiretapping or rendition if classified information is involved?
STAFF: Last question.
OBAMA: Jonathan Weisman, you get -- you get the last word. Where are you? There you are.
QUESTION: Thank you, sir. You are currently the chief shareholder of a couple of very large mortgage giants. You're about to become the chief shareholder of a car company, probably two.
And I'm wondering, what kind of shareholder are you going to be? What is the government's role as the keeper of public -- public trust and bonds in -- in soon-to-be public companies again? Thank you.
OBAMA:  Thank you, everybody.


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