President Obama held a press conference at the White House - the first in more than 300 days. As is his habit, he droned on in his answers and only called on a few journalists - 10 in total. He was in full professorial mode.
The bulk of the questions pertained to the BP oil spill. "From the moment this diaster began, the Federal government has been in command", began his repetitive response to questioning. He held to the talking points that his administration had been in charge "from Day One." He stated that BP "is operating at our direction." He also made clear that he intends to use this tragedy to push his political agenda of 'clean' energy legislation. He urged the Senate to pass the bill the House passed last year. And then he said he didn't want the oil spill to be in the standard political filter as other political discourse. He fibbed that he didn't care about the politics of it all.
He is a politician from Chicago, above all else. Of course he cares about the politics of any event while he's the top guy. Let's not forget his continued loud criticisms of the handling of Hurricane Katrina by the Bush administration when he was briefly in the U.S. Senate.
Obama touted the 'brain trust' involved in assisting BP in strategy and solutions for the oil spill. He pointed to Dr. Steven Chu, the Energy Secretary who is a Nobel prize award winner. Considering that Obama himself is a Nobel prize winner, that award holds less prestige than in previous times. Obama did, however, encourage tourism to the Gulf coast, so there's that.
Obama has suspended operations for 33 deep water drilling leases currently underway. No concern for those workers expressed, though. Maybe because oil rig workers aren't unionized they don't become as important as, say, auto factory workers. He did, for the first time during this crisis, remind everyone that he grew up in Hawaii and that the ocean is 'sacred' to him and he sympathises with those along the coast frustrated by slow actions.
Channeling the Jimmy Carter days, the president says his elementary school age daughter Malia sticks her head into his room as he shaves in the morning and asks, "Did you plug the hole yet, Daddy?" Shades of Jimmy Carter's breakfast talks with young daughter Amy on nuclear proliferation.
There was standard Bush bashing. Though now into the second of his four year term, the meme continues that everything bad is the fault of George W. Bush. Just as Secretary Salazar blamed Bush for "corrupt practices", Obama restated the claim. He did say that Salazar's fascist language of keeping his boot on the throat of BP is not appropriate. But the blame Bush thread continues. He said he didn't know if Elizabeth Birnbaum was fired or not. Her resignation was reported today and originally it was reported that the Mineral Management Services director had been fired. Why wouldn't the big boss know if she was fired? Who's in charge here?
Obama said that deep water drilling is expensive and risky. True enough. Then he said, "You never heard me say 'drill, baby, drill'. We can't drill our way out of the problem." Standard liberal talking points. And just wrong. Obama announced the cancellation of lease sales in Louisiana and Virginia. More oilfield unemployment to come.
It was asked of the president, why only help from two countries is being utilized and not from all 17 countries that have offered help or equipment. It was learned that only the help from Mexico and Norway has been accepted to date.
Helen Thomas asked when our troops would stop killing innocent Afghani people, when would he bring the troops all home. And, she said, "don't use a Bushism" that if we don't fight them there, the terrorists will come here. Everyone still in full blame Bush mode.
Asked about the increased presence of National Guardsmen on our southern border, by a Mexican journalist, Obama touted also the $500 million set aside for the exercise. He said, in response to the new Arizona law, that he didn't approve of it and that he didn't approve or disapprove of the boycott by some of that state. Imagine that. A President of the United States doesn't come out against the boycott of one of our own fifty states. Or as candidate Obama said, 57 states.
How long before the man who claimed his administration would be the most transparent ever releases its statement about the mess brought about by the alleged bribe to Rep Sestak in hopes he wouldn't run against Sen Arlen Specter? Obama said it would be forthcoming soon. He said it wouldn't be weeks but soon. And, he said his administration didn't do anything wrong.
Will it be another 300 plus days before he stands and answers questions from the press again?