Okay, so I just finished watching the latest and (not so) greatest Prime Time Presidential Valedictory….I mean Press Conference, along with some of the after-party appreciation but that was only between the commercial breaks of some actual breakdowns given.  I am sure that you can tell which channels I was watching versus which channels I peeked in on during the commercial breaks.  Anyway, I of course have a lot of opinions on the Presidential Lecture, and here are some of the highlights and my favorite brass tacks.

As much as it pains me to do so (and that pain is intensifying every time another one of these babies throws my viewing line-up for the evening) I managed to make it through yet another boring State of the President.  Although these things are actually getting worse, I managed to not feel the urge to grab my teddy and cuddle on the couch while nodding off (more about teddy bears in a few).  I think what made this one worse for me was actually part of what made me not close my eyes and rest my chin on my chest.  That probably seems at odds with my deeming of the “press conference” as boring, but it really doesn’t change that fact. 

While I think that these Prime Time so called Press Conferences are getting extremely boring, it is due to the act that they are so scripted that I keep waiting for a director to yell “cut and print, that’s a rap”.  President Obama was on camera for approximately 55 minutes.  During that time he managed to answer, count them, 13 questions.  If you factor in the time for his soliloquy at the beginning and also subtract the time it took for the “reporters” to ask the questions, that means that each of Obama’s answers were on average, 3 and 1/2 minutes long.  (Don’t hold me to that, I am just rough guesstimating here, but I don’t think that I’m that far off.)  Now, that may not seem like an obscene amount of time but if you think about it, a boxing round lasts 3 minutes.  After being asked a question in a Congressional hearings and testimony, the respondent gets about 2 and 1/2 to 3 minutes to give their entire answer to the original question and the multiple follow-ups.  An average TV News interview, with introduction and prelude, questions, answers and summary, usually lasts about 5 minutes all together.  If you don’t think that 3 and 1/2 minutes is a long time, then stop what you are doing, pull up your date/time in your settings menu and sit here and only watch the clock for 3 and 1/2 minutes….I’ll just wait here.

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Are you bored senseless yet?  Anyway, the flip side to the windy non-answer answers and prearranged roll call of “reporters”, were that while usually the “reporters” are the ones that add to the tediousness of specifically this President’s press conferences, actually provided the caffeine to my press conference narcolepsy.  The press have been throwing softballs at Obama for so long now and it is truly an annoying and at times grotesque thing to watch.  However, this time they managed to not only slobber…and even when they did that it caused my eyes to widen, but they also managed to throw a couple of fast pitches that had Obama figuratively jumping back from the proverbial plate.

The softball question of the evening was more like a whiffle ball.  This wasn’t even really a question, it was more like a gabbing session in a knitting circle….actually, those gals probably ask tougher questions than Jeff Zeleny of the New York Times.  I wonder how many were cringing as they heard a reporter from a major newspaper (going bankrupt or not) ask the POTUS about his feelings and emotions he has experienced during his first 100 days in office.  The specified emotions related to Obama’s biggest surprise upon taking office, his biggest enchantment, his most humbling realization and his most troubled thoughts.  You think I’m kidding?  Here is the direct quote:

During these first 100 days, what has surprised you the most about this office? Enchanted you the most from serving in this office? Humbled you the most? And troubled you the most?

OBAMA: Now let me write this down.

(LAUGHTER)

OBAMA: I’ve got…

QUESTION: Surprised, troubled…

OBAMA: I’ve got — what was the first one?

QUESTION: Surprised.

OBAMA: Surprised.

QUESTION: Troubled.

OBAMA: Troubled.

QUESTION: Enchanted.

OBAMA: Enchanted, nice.

(LAUGHTER)

QUESTION: And humbled.

OBAMA: And what was the last one, humbled?

QUESTION: Humbled. Thank you, sir.

Can you even imagine attempting to come up with a formulation that would result in those questions….seriously?  I know there are a lot of people out there that aren’t as fond of Bill O’Reilly as I am, however Zeleny’s question brought forth this hilarious commentary between Bill O. and Bernie Goldberg during a segment of the O’Reilly Factor following the presser:

O’Reilly:  Did he actually say enchanted you the most?  Did he actually say that word?  Enchanted?

Goldberg:Yeah, you know we’re still saying this is the worst question, but it’s really a fascinating question and ah, and ah, let me tell you why.  I can not picture any journalist asking Franklin Roosevelt if he was enchanted, or Harry Truman, I mean he had a foul mouth, if he was enchanted.  Or Dwight Eisenhower or even Kennedy or Nixon because they were men of a different era, they were men of a John Wayne era. 

Today’s men, a lot of men today even in powerful positions, especially men in journalism, they’re softer.  They are what a friend of mine calls NPR-men.  They want to know about your feelings, whether you’re enchanted you know.  I mean come on, if I did a piece about you Bill, you know like for my web site or a magazine, and I said “Bill, what is it that enchants you?”, you’d punch me in the head you know.

O’Reilly:  I don’t know what that means.  I know what the enchanted Forest is, but I don’t know, I don’t

Goldberg:It’s the kind of question that fits our metrosexual time.

Now THAT was funny! (check out the link to my youtube page on this site for this encounter)

The two questions that I thought were the best of the event, both stemmed from the same issue and that’s not the only thing they shared in common.  They were both asked by network news guys, first by Jake Tapper of ABC and directly followed up by Mark Knoller of CBS.  They both involved the subject of waterboarding, they both were basically given a non-answer or an incomplete, both guys pressed the President on the answer he gave and both guys are going to have to have a “battle buddy” with them for the next couple of days if not weeks.

Jake Tapper brought up the general subject first asking Obama if, due to the fact that he has stated in the past that he believe that waterboarding is torture and given that torture is a violation of the Geneva Conventions, if it was his opinion that the Bush Administration sanctioned torture.  After giving a lengthy response that included such notions as that he believes that waterboarding “violates our ideals and our values” yada yada yada, how it is “not just my opinion, that’s the opinion of many who have examined the topic”, yada yada yada, that “putting and end to these practices” was in his words the “right thing to do”, yada yada yada, British, WWII, Churchill (maybe he shouldn’t bring up that name after the whole bronze bust incident), “prevent these kinds of enhanced interrogation techniques” will “make us safer over the long term” , yada yada yada, beacon, recruitment, Al-Qaeda, yada yada, “a decision that I’m very comfortable with”, end of non-answer.  Tapper followed it up by pressing the President as to whether or not he believed that the previous administration had sanctioned torture to which Obama answered “I believe that waterboarding was torture. And I think that the — whatever legal rationales were used, it was a mistake.”.  End of non-answer, reminded himself not to call on Tapper at the next press conference and then looked like he wanted to wipe his brow and say …whew.

Well…..not just yet Mr. President.  Obama next called on Mark Knoller from CBS.  While I was a tad bit worried that Knoller looked like he was about to keel over during the phrasing of his question (he didn’t look like he felt too great), I was grinning once he got it out.  Here was Knoller’s question verbatim:

“Thank you, sir. Let me follow up, if I may, on Jake’s question. Did you read the documents recently referred to by former Vice President Cheney and others saying that the use of so-called “enhanced interrogation techniques” not only protected the nation but saved lives?  And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?”

Uh, oh….the sweat looks like it appeared back on the brow.  Where are some freaking Kleenex or hankys when you need them!  While the question Knoller asked was much more specific and longer, and I would think require MORE time to answer, POTUS gave a more clipped answer.  I guess he wanted that sweat to dry back up, after all you can’t look cool while dripping at the podium…ask Robert Gibbs. 

Even though the “answer” was shorter than the previous one, (and still a non-answer) I’ll summarize: While he has read the documents, they haven’t been declassified so he didn’t’ want to get into any details, but basically he believes that the Intel that was obtained by using these techniques could probably have been garnered in other ways.  While not exactly spelling it out, but extrapolating from the final thought of his answer, one could easily see that when Obama asked “are we safer as a consequence of having used these techniques?”, that he doesn’t believe that we are in fact safer.  He pretty much seems to think that 3 people were waterboarded and nothing was gained from it except a bad rap for the United States.  I know that seems like I am reading an awful lot into a couple of words, but here was the President’s final thought on Knoller’s question: “There have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made. OK?”. 

Sure thing Mr. President….message received loud and clear. 

So what IS the message that we received?  On content, I am mostly at the same place that I was BEFORE the presser.  I mean, it is pretty hard to glean any new information, when questions are asked and rhetoric is exhaled.  I think that going into this, most knew hat Obama likes to toot his own horn as he did in his prologue, even if the facts presented aren’t the complete and whole truth.  I also think that most of us know that we shouldn’t go to places that have a lot of people, recirculated air, or cough without covering our mouths if we are sick or feel something coming on, swine flu (yes I said SWINE) or otherwise.  Also, I really hope that the hand washing thing is a no-brainer.  Thanks Pres.  On the auto industry, I am sure there are still some out there that let Obama pretend to pull the wool over their eyes, but for the rest of us I think we know that Obama wouldn’t mind being the Commander-In-Chief/GM and Chrysler CEO.  Of course if he can managed to be CEO of the U.S. Banking System, he won’t really need the title from the car industry as he will be able to control the financing ergo the credit and lending to the Big 3 in effect running them from afar. 

Pakistan?  Pakistan, Pakistan, Pakistan…I really HATE the way Obama pronounces that word!!!  As far as securing their nuclear arsenal against the Taliban, I tend to give him the benefit of the doubt.  I mean he doesn’t really want ANYONE to have them so why should the Taliban or al-Qaeda be any different?  Iraq?  We all knew that he wouldn’t pull the troops out in the manner in which he alluded to on the campaign trail…some of us are realists and know that doing so would have spelled disaster, and we didn’t need to be POTUS and receive top secret classified reports to realize this.  Specter?  I’d just assume skip over him (for now), but I think it was a waste of a question to ask Obama about his defection or the state of the Republican Party.  Let’s put it this way…if you needed to ask the President THAT question, you are either a liberal and want to hear some more Conservative bashing, or you are a few flapjacks short of a full stack. 

One interesting, but not news shattering deviation came from a question asked by Ed Henry of CNN regarding the Freedom of Choice Act.  Obama claimed that this policy is not a high legislative priority and stated that “a task force within the Domestic Policy Council in the West Wing of the White House that is working with groups both in the pro-choice camp and in the pro-life camp, to see if we can arrive at some consensus on that.”.  I’m not too sure that his fans at Planned Parenthood or NARAL were too thrilled to hear that.  Of course, they DID just get Sebilius in as Secy of HHS, so that should quell them…at least for a couple of days.

Immigration?  Nothing new.  I think that Conservatives are of the opinion that Obama would love to streamline a “Path to Citizenship” for all of the illegal aliens (YES….I said ILLEGALS AND ALIENS), and let them partake of our healthcare system, social security system, welfare system, but most importantly, our VOTING system.  Think of that whole new electorate that amnesty (basically) would create for the Democrats.

When asked about action for the African-American communities, Obama kind of sidestepped that one, choosing to make it inclusionary of all races and instead targeting those who are “most vulnerable”.  Redaction and State Secrets?  Obama isn’t a complete idiot and knows what those tools can do for him.  He was against it, before he was for it….in other words when Bush had the power, he was adamantly against.  Now that the white-out is in his hand, he decided that it is necessary in some instances.  Now why am I not surprised?   As to the big finale, I think that right now with so many issues that have been deemed high priorities, I think that President Obama would have preferred to have come into office, only dealing with the same issues that he based his campaign platform around when he first declared he candidacy.  But I also think that while taking over the mortgage industry, financial sector, auto industry and banking industry causes a mighty full plate, that he did not in fact the those crisis go to waste.  My stance, as of this first 100 days, is that while he is busy juggling, Obama isn’t too upset that these issues have been served up to him on a platter.  That while Capitalism is still alive, it’s pulse is very faint surviving on life support and that eventually the POTUS will either pull the plug, or tax the crap outta the machine to the point where t is too expensive to run.

Can we the people resuscitate the foundation of our economy?  Or are we going to let it fade away with a DNR attached to it’s bedside?  To conclude, I would like to make one observation that is slightly off the original topic, although there is a relation present.  My husband and I were sitting in the living room discussing these any other issues, when the beginning of Hannity came on at 10pm.  The opening segment contained different media clips and sound bites that have taken place over these past 100 days and they were assembled into a montage that was scored to O Fortuna.  I found this a bit ironic and liking the verses (as well as Carmina Burana), I couldn’t take my gaze from the screen.  A couple of the clips within were from the now famous if not infamous interviews that Former Vice President Dick Cheney has given over the past 100 days regarding the actions of the Obama Administration.  While watching those particular clips, I looked over at my husband and told him that he was going to think that I was crazy for what I was about to say.  He gave me one of those “not much you say surprises me anymore” looks and I told him “I don’t know what it is and I can’t tell you why exactly, but for some reason when I see Dick Cheney, I want to give him a big teddy bear hug” (see I told you the teddy bear was going to some back into this!).  I told him that “when I listen to Cheney I feel like he is the sort of person that is who I want for my leader”.  “When you hear him speak”, I relayed, “and when you hear what he has to say, you feel that if he is around, nothing bad is going to happen.  That if he is looking out for you, he won’t let harm come to you no matter what he has to do to protect you, he will do it” and that “He is the type of person that I not only want for my leader, but is the type of person that I would like to be seen as…the type that is going to stand up for what’s right, not waiver in my resolution to serve, protect and defend.  The type of person that people look to when times are good and more importantly when times are bad because I will not back down from the enemy and I will not apologize for being a citizen of the greatest country on Earth.  The type of person that sticks around when the times are tough taking the heat for any mistakes, not placing blame on others and yet fades into the background when times are good while still present, letting the people who earned the success take the credit for the fruits of their labor.”  My husband is of course biased on this front and told me that I am that type of person, just on a smaller scale because I haven’t reached the next level.  At this I laughed and stated “To be honest with you, I would take it as a great compliment if I had the nickname Darth Vader”.

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