Obama Presser: Another Interminable Exercise in Blame and Evasion

Guy Benson

6/29/2011 2:47:00 PM - Guy Benson

In case you missed it, Katie offers a fairly comprehensive recap of President Obama's press conference below.  As is often the case, his performance was rather frustrating to watch, and seemed interminable.  A few initial reactions:

Debt Ceiling: The president called on Republicans to back off their "stubborn" refusal to compromise on their "sacred cow" (no tax hikes), asserting that everyone else at the table has displayed a willingness to do so.  This is news to me, as Democrats have consistently refused to deal seriously with entitlements, and have shamelessly demagogued Republican reform efforts.  One could also argue that Democrats' true sacred cow in this debate is their insistence on raising taxes, a stance from which they have not backed down.  Obama then employed one of his favorite rhetorical maneuvers, citing the "consensus" of unnamed economists from across the political spectrum ("every single observer...who's not a politician") that a "balanced approach" to deficit refuction (ie, tax increases) is required to accomplish that task.  I can think of at least 150 economists who might beg to differ.  NRO's Daniel Foster dug up a useful video clip on this front.  The president also mentioned his debt commission -- which is rich, considering that he ignored all of its major recommendations in crafting his mammouth failure of a 2012 budget.  Plus, would tax hikes really right the ship?  Over to you, Jim Pethokoukis (once again).

In a ham-fisted class warfare gambit, Obama took aim at tax breaks for private jet owners.  His point, presumably, was to highlight an unpopular tax provision Republicans are "protecting" through their blanket refusal to entertain any tax increases.  Say, where'd those evil private jet-related tax breaks come from, anyway?  Clue: The answer may involve an infamous bill that zero House Republicans supported, and that Barack Obama signed into law.  Oops.

Libya:  President Obama defended his administration's legally dubious stance on Libya and the War Powers Act.  He recapitulated all the talking points we've come to expect: Our mission is time- and scope-limited.  The non-hostilities are unlikely to expand.  NATO.  Congress has been briefed, etc.   Congressional briefings are substantively and legally separate from Congressional authorization, of course, but no matter.  Taking a cue from his Secretary of State, Obama also implied that critics of his Libya policy are kinda sorta emboldening and abetting Mommar Gaddafi.  "Nobody should want to defend" the Libyan dictator, he scowled.  No one does.  That's not the point, and he knows it.  Political scientist Larry Sabato was decidedly unimpressed with Obama's evasive and dishonest answer.

Gay marriage:  Asked if gay marriage is constitutional, the president recited a litany of his administration's pro-gay rights accomplishments -- from repealing DADT to ceasing to defend DOMA in court.  He also applauded New York's recent decision to legalize gay marriage.  Pressed on whether he himself supports gay marriage (his stated position is that he does not), Obama smiled and said he wasn't going to "make news" on that issue "today."  To me, this reinforces a reality that has been manifestly obvious for some time: Barack Obama very much supports gay marriage, but he doesn't want to say so explicitly until after he asks millions of religious Americans -- including many blacks and hispanics -- for their votes in 2012.  Principle!

Congress: Obama reserved much of his indignance and hectoring for Congress, which he largely blamed for the debt debate impasse (this from a guy who has punted these tough questions to multiple commissions -- a ploy he ridiculed as a candidate).  He said Congress should stay in the nation's capital and buckle down, rather than taking frequent recesses.  "I've been here!" he asserted, though some cynics may point out that he's actually been jetting to mulitple fundraisers and squeezing in quite a few rounds of golf.   Nonetheless, Obama demanded that legislators "do their job" on the debt crisis.  Um, Mr. President, the Republican-controlled House did its job on the debt.  It passed Paul Ryan's budget, which reduces the debt by four trillion dollars, reforms the tax code, and saves the social safety net by distrupting its inexorable march toward insolvency.  The Democrat-held Senate has not done its job.  791 days have passed since Harry Reid's caucus even introduced a budget.  Oddly, the president failed to mention these salient facts.  He did, however, demand that Congress make "tough choices."  Is he referring to the brand of politically risky leadership he's deliberately avoided?

Fear-mongering: "I am the President of the United States, and I want to make sure I'm not engaged in scare tactics."  Republicans should file this quote away and resurrect it whenever the president feeds his insatiable appetite for precisely the practice he claims to reject.  In fact, he fear-mongered at today's press conference.  He can't help himself.  Absent tax increases, he warned, children could go without scholarships, food safety measures could be loosened, and medical research could dry up, etc, etc.  It's fat-cat corporate jet-setters vs. the children, you see.  I'd try to accumulate Obama's greatest fear-mongering hits, but that task could consume my entire afternoon.  Here's a start.

We've just scratched the surface, frankly, so I'll leave you with all 67 minutes of our president's distilled wisdom.  Feel free to add to my grievances in the comments section.  Enjoy: