In the midst of it all, Obama and Michelle went to an elementary school to read to second-graders, a now time-honored presidential release valve. Clinton read to children during his impeachment hearings. Bush, eternally and infamously, will be remembered for reading "The Pet Goat" to an elementary school class as airplanes were slamming into the World Trade Center towers.
Obama said they were "just tired of being in the White House." Oh, just wait.
Other manifestations of Obama's political greenness include his apology for picking lax taxpayers for prominent positions, his campaign-like tour to Elkhart, Ind., on Monday and his ponderous first news conference later that evening.
First the apology.
Why did Obama feel it necessary to apologize for others' mistakes? If proper vetting was the problem, then say so and correct it. The tax code is absurdly complex and most people with complicated lives hand over their numbers to accountants and hope for the best.
Admittedly, the problem became comical as one after another Obama appointee turned up with tax debts. Q: How do you get Democrats to pay taxes? A: Appoint them to Cabinet positions.
But Obama's eager confession -- "I screwed up" -- hit a hollow note. Doubtless, he was trying to demonstrate "change" by distinguishing himself from Bush, who could never quite put a finger on his mistakes. Rather than seeming Trumanesque in stopping the buck at his desk, Obama seemed more like an abused spouse who starts her day saying, "I'm sorry. It's all my fault."
He appeared weak.
In Elkhart, the president seemed locked in campaign mode, still wooing the crowd and seeking approval. At his news conference, the overriding impression was of a man not fully in control of his message or his material. Nine minutes into the first answer to the first question, I began missing Bush's customary dispatch. Bush's contempt for the media meant he never stayed long enough to bore us.
The faith of the American people may not have been misplaced in Obama. But the young senator from Illinois became a president overnight, before he had time to gain the confidence and wisdom one earns through trials and errors.
Those have just begun.
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