Saturday, November 08, 2008

President-Elect Obama's First Press Conference.

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The first thing that was notable about Obama's press conference was that he spoke like an adult speaking to other adults. It came across as a refreshing change from anything we have witnessed during the last eight years.

"Immediately after I become president, I will confront this economic crisis head-on by taking all necessary steps to ease the credit crisis, help hard-working families, and restore growth and prosperity," he said.

Asked about a letter from Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, Iran's president, Obama did not dismiss it outright as the Bush administration had with earlier gestures from Tehran. The president-elect, who has said he is prepared to enter into direct talks with Iran's leaders, said he would review the letter congratulating him on his election, and would "respond appropriately". He said America's approach to Iran could not be dealt with in a "kneejerk" fashion.

Leaving aside Obama's claims that Iran are seeking to develop a nuclear weapon, which struck me as presumptuous, it was nevertheless welcome that he didn't - as we have become used to during the Bush years - brush off the letter. Indeed, he promised to "respond appropriately" which is an adult response and, again, a change from the past.

Interestingly, when asked regarding his recent intelligence briefings, "Has anything that you've heard given you pause on anything you spoke about during the campaign trail?" Obama responded, "Okay, I'm going to skip that."

When asked if he did, indeed, intend to raise taxes on those earning more than $200,000 a year, Obama entered into a passionate defence of reducing taxes for the middle income earner. The inference that he would raise the taxes of those earning $200,000 or more was blatant.

He seemed as an top of his brief as a man without, at this moment, any power possibly could be.

And the American handover period, the very fact that Obama will not take office until January 20th, looked strangely arcane. In Britain the Prime Minister has to bugger off the second the public have decided it is time for him to go, this weird period where we look to Obama whilst Bush is still in charge must strike most people as odd.

Perhaps some American reader can fill us in on the history of this practice.

He retained his sense of humour. As he was leaving the press conference one journalist called out, "One question from France?" Obama, without pausing responded, "Bonjour!"

But it is obvious that it is the economy that Obama will spend most of his time addressing, attempting to repair the damage which he had nothing to do with creating.

It really is time for an adult in the White House and, thankfully, that is exactly what he comes across as.

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4 comments:

Will Conley said...

Well done, Kel, as always. Two points:

1. Yes, his statement about an Iranian nuclear weapons development program was presumptuous, if not just plain dishonest or stupid. But what do I know.

2. I admired the way he addressed the intelligence question. It was clear he was speaking from a standpoint of "Whether or not there is anything to conceal, loose lips do sink ships."

Just my fair and balanced two cents. Suck it, Fox.

So, you think Stewart and Colbert will be less funny now that they don't have a bad guy to pick on? I think they're already kind of going downhill.

Holla atcha boy!

Kel said...

Will, I can understand why the Iranian nuclear programme is worrying, I just don't like the presumption that Iran is developing a nuclear weapon as I have seen no proof of that at all.

And I think comedians everywhere must be dreading what to do without Bush as an easy target. Just as there must surely have been tears in TV studios up and down the country when Palin limped back to Alaska.

Comedic gold like that is very hard to find.

Cecilieaux said...

A U.S. reader responds:

The presidential transition used to be much longer. Until the 1930s the president took the oath in March. The November-March lag had much to do with problems and impediments of travel in the 18th century.

FDR was the last president to wait so long to take over in 1933 and thousands of banks went under while Hoover did nothing.

November-January seems long, but nothing much ever gets done in Washington between Thanksgiving and the Christmas and New Year holiday.

Cecilieaux, reporting from Washington, D.C.

Kel said...

Thanks Cecilieaux!

On British radio today they also said the practice stems from how long it used to take the president elect to get to Washington, but why has it persisted now that those conditions no longer exist?

For instance what's to stop Bush invading Iran against Obama's wishes? It seems to me as if the democratic wishes of the people are ignored until January 20th.

I presume there are no restrictions on what Bush can and cannot do?