Skip to comments.Our Useless White House Press Corps
Posted on 03/01/2013 11:18:31 PM PST by Kaslin
I don't always agree with Slate's Dave Weigel, but his withering piece on the willful obsolescence of the White House press corps came to mind today as President Obama fielded questions about the sequester. Obama's initial remarks were filled with inaccuracies, misplaced blame and tendentious arguments -- but that's par for the course. The "question" and "answer" session was far more aggravating. Let's review the transcript and recount just a few reasons why:
(1) The president twice made glaringly misleading or false claims about deficit reduction pertaining to the 2011 Budget Control Act:
We’ve already cut $2.5 trillion in our deficit. Everybody says we need to cut $4 trillion, which means we have to come up with another $1.5 trillion...We have a Budget Control Act, right? We agreed to a certain amount of money that was going to be spent each year and certain funding levels for our military, our education system and so forth. If we stick to that deal, then I will be supportive of us sticking to that deal. That’s a deal that I made. The sequester are additional cuts on top of that, and by law until Congress takes the sequester away, we’d have to abide by those additional cuts...
Obama has touted that $2.5 trillion statistic for more than a year, including on the campaign trail; he's a real deficit hawk, you see. Guess what that figure includes? The sequester, which was part of the Budget Control Act. Obama points to the Budget Control Act as evidence of his spending restraint, then asserts that sequestration piles "additional cuts on top of that." False. The sequester cuts represent the bulk of deficit savings in the Budget Control Act -- a piece of legislation, by the way, that Obama never wanted to exist in the first place. He wanted a "clean," no-strings-attached debt ceiling hike in the summer of 2011, but Republicans dragged him against his will into signing a dollar-for-dollar deficit reduction package. Sequestration was a major element of said package, proposed and demanded by the White House. None of these points were raised by any of the reporters in the White House briefing room. Do these journalists even remember the basics of how the sequester came into existence? Does Obama?
(2) When a correspondent asked if Obama thinks he bears any responsibility for the implementation of his own proposal, here was part of his response:
QUESTION: It sounds like you're saying this is a Republican problem, and not one that you bear any responsibility for.
OBAMA: Well, Julie, give me an example of what -- what I might do?
QUESTION: Just trying to clarify your statement.
OBAMA: Well, no, but I’m trying to clarify the question. The -- what -- what I’m suggesting is I’ve put forward a plan that calls for serious spending cuts, serious entitlement reforms. Goes right at the problem that is at the heart of our long-term deficit problem. I’ve offered negotiations around that kind of balanced approach. And so far we’ve gotten rebuffed, because what Speaker Boehner and the Republicans have said is “We cannot do any revenue; we can’t do a dime’s worth of revenue.” So what more do you think I should do?
OBAMA: OK. I just wanted to clarify.
OBAMA: You know, because -- because if people have a suggestion, I’m happy to -- you know, this is -- this is a room full of smart -- this is a room full of smart folks, so -- all right.
Evidently, the room wasn't full of such "smart folks," because nobody could conceive of a single possible course of action the president might have taken. Let me help: (a) You could have produced your own detailed plan in legislative language sometime in the last 16 months, Mr. President. You never did. (b) You could have met with Congressional leaders before, say, today; instead you hop-scotched across the country railing against Republicans for their refusal to alter your own plan in a way that suits your current preferences. (c) You could have signed one of the House GOP-passed sequester replacement bills. You might have done the same with a Senate Democrat-passed bill, had one existed. But no. Not a single member of the press corps could produce even one of these responses on the fly. Instead, awkward silence, followed by laughter. Great work, guys. Oh, and the president said that the only thing some Republicans want to do is "paint horns" on his head. Such a helpless, beleaguered victim.
(3) Behold, the president's lone acknowledgement that Republicans have actually done a few things other than demonize him and hate progress:
The only thing that we’ve seen from Republicans so far in terms of proposals is to replace this set of arbitrary cuts with even worse arbitrary cuts. That’s not going to help the economy. That’s not going to help growth. That’s not going to create jobs.
As noted above, House Republicans have passed two bills outlining specific offsets for Obama's self-described "dumb" cuts. The president seems to think those alternatives were "even worse" than the sequester itself. Really? Many of the GOP-proposed cuts were derived directly from....Barack Obama's last budget. Also, the House bills aren't the "only thing we've seen from Republicans." The Senate GOP introduced a plan that would have ceded major flexibility to Obama to make the cuts less "dumb." He threatened to veto that bill, a move that the Washington Post editorial board calls "sad" and "strange." Were the assembled journalists aware of any of these facts? Were they too scared to bring them up? If so, why might that be?
(4) The president invoked some variant of the word "balance" four times during the Q&A. Interestingly, no one thought this question was worth asking: "Mr. President, you say you're interested in balance. Why, then, did you endorse the Senate Democrats' (last minute) proposal -- which the CBO says would add tens of billions to the deficit? Isn't this supposed to be a deficit reduction plan?" These are basic, obvious, fair, challenging questions that no one bothered to put to the president....
(5) ...Instead, we got gems like this query from an NPR correspondent:
QUESTION: Thank you, Mr. President. You said, a few minutes ago, and you’ve said repeatedly, that the country has to stop careening from crisis to crisis.
QUESTION: So with a few crises behind us, and a few more crises ahead of us...
QUESTION: ... taking a step back from this specific debate over the sequester, how as the leader of this country do you plan to stop the country from careening from crisis to crisis?
This might be construed as an attempt to pressure the president into actually taking responsibility for something, but the question's phrasing was hopelessly weak and deferential. We already know why the country keeps careening from one manufactured crisis to the next: Because we've abandoned normal budget order for the last four years. If we'd had a federal budget in place, the debt ceiling would have been dealt with, the Budget Control Act and sequestration would have been unnecessary, the fiscal cliff would have been addressed, and there would be no need for continuing resolutions. So instead of asking a question for which there's a blatantly obvious answer (which just so happens to be fairly inconvenient to the president), try a slightly more informed approach: "Mr. President, you've said that the country has to stop careening from crisis to crisis. But we haven't had a federal budget in nearly four years, which has precipitated many of these crises. Not a single Democrat in the Senate has voted for any budget -- including your own -- since 2009. Why hasn't the Senate acted in accordance with the law, and why haven't you demanded that your party's Senate Majority Leader do his job?" Instead, Obama was given an easy opening to wander down the familiar path of complaining about "crumbling roads and bridges," or whatever -- as if his $825 billion program ostensibly designed to address infrastructure problems had never happened (another point on which he was not challenged).
The take-aways that you're likely to hear from today's performance are that Obama didn't rule out signing a CR with a lower baseline, that he acknowledged sequestration "is not going to be a apocalypse, I think, as some people have said," (yes, and who might those people be?), and that he conflated a Star Trek and Star Wars catch phrase. The real headline from this afternoon's briefing ought to be that many of the men and women whose job description is to ask tough questions of the most powerful man on the planet are -- for one reason or another -- very, very bad at what they do.
Useless to WHOM?...
The original stimulus spending became part of the new baseline, and has been part of every continuing resolution. This is where your trillion dollar deficits come from and why there has been no budget in four years.
Townhall gives an answer to Obama’s accusations.
I suppose that is good, but we here in FR and a few other sites are the onlt ones who see it.
Have you heard a Republican response to Obama’s lies? Will we ever hear a response to Obama’s lies? Not from Boehnar or McConnell we won’t. If Pelosi were Speaker we would certainly hear from her.
SPEAK Republicans lets hear from you.
Old Soviet Joke:
The Commissar comes to the tractor factor to give his monthly propaganda speech. He says, Wheat production has exceeded quota!
Podgorny raises his hand and says, Then why is there no bread in stores?
The Commissar says, Is not important. Sugar production has exceeded our quotas!
Podgorny raises his hand, Then why is there no sugar in stores?
Is not important, the Commissar says.
Next month, the Commissar comes to give his speech. A worker raises his hand and says, I dont want to know why is there no bread. I dont want to know why is there no sugar. I want to know where is Podgorny?
Our Useless White House Press Corps
Other than really, really stupid questions and “softball” inquires, the normal democrat voter is actually perplexed, stymied, and overwhelmed by anything more complex than a three word sentence based upon the level of a three year old child’s understanding.
Worse yet, anything said by King Obama and his surrogates are flat out lies or “canned” propaganda.
I believe that a press conference that is turned into a media porn video with Obama and Helen Thomas would be the equivalent of what we now see at each and every press fiasco.
OH GUY ! GUY ! Obama already explained what they were...He read it off the TOTUS remember ?? IT’’S THE WHITE HOUSE PRESS CORPSE..see how quickly kids forget....
The Left allows no dissension, no serious questioning of the One, & punishes both as treason. Given that the media is overwhelmingly liberal, a reporter incurring the One’s ire could wind up as a paper folder in Podunk.
Sequester would be bad for this reason
Sequester would be painful for that reason
People would suffer this other reason
Then they noted that the President was hoping that enough public outrage might really put pressure on congress (*cough* Republicans *cough*) to change their entire attitude.
Then they listed a couple more examples of how Sequester will be bad and painful.
I think the hosts were trying to help the White House by stirring up public outrage and trying to get people to voice their support for Obama by contacting politicians (*cough* Republicans *cough*). I think I just saw naked propaganda from the official White House news service. But it's just so hard to be really sure.
Saw it too and let Lester Holt have it on Twitter. Maybe his cabana boy will read my tweet to him.
Let’s not forget the many lies of omission as well. He made a big deal about how he was interested in a Republican plan that closed a lot of loopholes but had been pulled back, “Boehner himself listed them for me” or something like that, but didn’t mention that that Republican plan required matching spending cuts, which is why he never went for it.
“The Left allows no dissension, no serious questioning of the One, & punishes both as treason.”
And why is that? They weren’t totally in the bag like this for their previous leftist presidents.
Wow, it’s kinda chilling that that joke has been brought up to date for both Hillary and Obama talking to elementary school kids.
The White House Press Corps is worse than that. They're part of the fifth-column media buttboys to Traitorobama.
You have it exactly. Our repub ‘leaders’ are completely inept. And most of the underlings too.
Are they afraid for their lives? Afraid they won’t be invited to the next cocktail party? What is it?
The American press is the enemy of the people.
I remember toward the end of the Carter admin. the press was openly hostile toward Carter.
IIRC Kalb, Donaldson, maybe Schorr were really on his case.
Where is the raucous press conference with reporters standing with raised hands trying to get noticed. Many yelling questions.
Beezle's press conferences reminds me of a 2nd grade classroom. All sitting quietly waiting for the teacher to speak and mouthing "Yes, teacher".
Let me get this straight: The “Evil Republicans” are the cause of an $85 billion cut in a non-existent budget....
..and Obama just gave a $60 billion aid package to the Muslim Brotherhood backed Syrian rebels......
Where might I find that information? I want to broadcast it to everybody I know.
Please be specific.