Paul Greenberg

And the president is as angry as anybody about those bonuses handed out to the suits at AIG who left the company (and a good part of the American economy) a wreck. One reporter wanted to know why, if he was so angry, he'd waited till public outrage mounted before expressing his own. "It took us a couple of days" to react, he explained, "because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Good line, but not a very credible one. Does anybody believe that this president would have raised Cain about these bonuses if the American public hadn't done so first? He brings to mind the leader of the French Revolution who demanded to know where the mob was going so he could lead it.

This president, you'll be glad to know, is for expanding educational opportunities for American children. Unless, of course, they happen to be poor kids in Washington, D.C., who are attending private schools of their choice through a voucher program he's just killed -- with an enthusiastic assist from a Democratic Congress.

How dare these uppity urchins want to go the kind of schools the Obamas send their own girls to! Naturally, he didn't mention that little matter in his press conference. Sometimes the most telling thing about a presidential press conference is what a president doesn't tell us.

But, no matter, our president's answers puzzle only if one takes them seriously. If you just lean back and let his pleasant voice wash over you in rhythmic waves, like the sound of easy-listening music coming from a radio someone has left on in the corner of a room, it can really be quite soothing. Only if you try to find a meaning in his words, or attempt to figure out the logic of his positions, does Barack Obama's smooth delivery begin to sound hollow at the core.

The trick is not to pay too much attention on these occasions. This president sounds just fine if you'll only put your mind in idle. What did G.K. Chesterton say about Times Square when he first glimpsed the Great White Way? "What a glorious garden of wonder this would be, to anyone who was lucky enough to be unable to read." Watching the presidential press conference Tuesday evening would have been an uplifting experience if only one weren't trying to make sense of what he was actually saying.

Paul Greenberg

Pulitzer Prize-winning Paul Greenberg, one of the most respected and honored commentators in America, is the editorial page editor of the Arkansas Democrat-Gazette.