Obama, get your ass out there!
Do you know when Obama held his last "traditional" press conference?
Take a moment to guess when.
According to the White House website, the last "News Conference
" was on
22 July 2009.
There were on
but those aren't press conferences in the way we generally thing of them: at the White House, focused on the president and national policy. They were "event" related (e.g. visiting dignitary or gathering of officials). Also, with the exception of the one for Singh of India, they were outside of Washington D.C.
Bush was (rightly) criticized for hiding from the press and rarely holding press conferences*.
Why is Obama following in Bush's footsteps?
You can bet that there are liberals and conservatives that want answers from Obama on major policy positions. Some of them involve campaign pledges that he's reneged on. Some of them involve Obama's persistent push for bipartisanship when all it seems to do is slow down the process and result in compromises that leave a substantial portion of the base unhappy.
An Obama speech is a one-way vehicle. A press conference, flawed though it might be, at least allows issues to be raised that otherwise would be ignored. However, judging from the news, it appears Obama will not hold a press conference prior to the State of the Union address. When will the next traditional press conference be held? April 2010, maybe?
* - Those Bush did hold were often "snap" conferences in the morning with little advance notification
I'll give a qualified agreement with you, but I won't go to the barricades about it. In the abstract I agree that presidents ought to face the kind of free form questioning that press conferences offer. But, my god, the performance of the national press corps is so inept. Is it your experience that the quality of questions is high, or even middling?
hodge: I agree with your view that the press is inept, and I have no illusions that much of a press conference would be inane. But I think there would be the opportunity for a few pointed questions to address issues that the administration has been totally silent on.
Quality of questions: Sadly, I'd have to say middling, at best. But that's an average. Press conferences have - even with Bush - clarified an uncertain position (often a position that's unsatisfactory, but at least the uncertainty is gone).
obama hasn't been answering questions out of shame. for months now the first question that gets hurled at him after he gives his little spiel is this:
"what about the public option?"
that's his cue to hit the exits.