|May 26, 2010|
|Meet the Press, Mr. President|
|By Kevin McCauley|
|A White House State Dinner is apparently the only thing that President Barack Obama likes less than press conferences. There have been two dinners and five pressers during the Obama presidency. |
The White House last night feted Mexico President Felipe Calderon and his wife, Margarita Zavala, while Secret Service agents successfully fended off another gate-crashing bid by Tareq and Michaele Salahi -- much to the delight of Vice President Joe Biden, who posed with the duo last November at a dinner for India leader Singh.
Obama's press-dodging strategy even extends to brief exchanges with the media, according to Towson State University Professor Martha Kumar.
In his first year of office, the president had 47 short exchanges with reporters compared to 147 for George W. Bush and 252 for loquacious Bill Clinton.
Obama's run from the media was on full display last week after the signing of the Daniel Pearl Freedom of the Press Act when he blew off a question about British Petroleum's oil spill, but acknowledged the reporter's right to ask it. Freedom of the press, Obama-style.
Yesterday, the oresident had a joint “press availability” with Calderon prior to the dinner at which he talked about Arizona's anti-immigrant law and the need to step up action against Mexico’s drug cartels. And then he high-tailed it out of the Rose Garden.
Obama's last formal press conference was in July. It's been a very newsy interlude since then. Obama ramped up U.S. action in Afghanistan, a policy that currently is being re-jiggered. Are we still on track to get out of Afghanistan?
Attacks in Iraq are on the upswing. There were botched terror attacks over Detroit and in Times Square. The great healthcare debate came, went and now faces judicial challenge. Climate change and immigration reform appear dead.
Wall Street is once again falling off the cliff. British Petroleum’s oil spill is rounding Florida and heading up the east coast. America seethes over the country’s inability to get back on track. It’s your call, Mr. President. Serious problems need to be addressed. A prime-time press conference is the perfect way to get things rolling.
By the way, Mr. President, I am a big fan of social media. I would be willing to give up those thoughtful “Dear Kevin” emails from you (Yes, I think your friend Elena Kagan would be a peachy Supeme Court judge) in exchange for a full-blown presser. The NetRoots savvy of your brilliant campaign staff is part of the reason why you are in the White House.
The president though has the responsibility to communicate with all Americans. Television still beats out the 'Net when it comes to attracting eyeballs to a big event like an Obama meeting with the D.C. press corps.
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