Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Obama press conference: I’ll keep on giving you the same answer until I give you a different one

Obama held one of his increasingly rare press conferences today.

He’s still talking about the need to “tackle spending in the tax code” after both Jon Stewart and I made fun of the phrase.

Evidently the deficit (he said we need $4 trillion in deficit reduction, but didn’t say where that figure came from – it came from the Republicans) is the fault of tax breaks for corporate jets, which he mentioned six times. Unless we get rid of that tax break, we’ll have to throw kids out of college, end medical research and compromise food safety. He says we have to make tough decisions like that. Also, oil companies should pay some damned taxes, for once.

Fortunately, he thinks it’s entirely possible that a bipartisan deal can be done, because “there is a conceptual framework that would allow us to make huge progress on our debt and deficit, and do so in a way that does not hurt our economy right here and right now.” Wow, there’s a conceptual framework? Why didn’t you say so before?

UM, NOBODY? “Nobody wants to put the creditworthiness of the United States in jeopardy. Nobody wants to see the United States default.”

First question: how do you get a “balanced approach” including tax increases, when Boehner says no way, no how? Obama says that “in Washington... a lot of people say a lot of things to satisfy their base or to get on cable news, but that hopefully, leaders at a certain point rise to the occasion and they do the right thing for the American people.” Oh dear God, we’re doomed.

OKAY, YOU’RE NAIVE: “And that’s what I expect to happen this time. Call me naïve, but my expectation is that leaders are going to lead.” Or just not paying attention.

REPUBLICANS ARE ALWAYS PREPARED TO DO THE HARD THING: “So the question is, if everybody else is willing to take on their sacred cows and do tough things in order to achieve the goal of real deficit reduction, then I think it would be hard for the Republicans to stand there and say that the tax break for corporate jets is sufficiently important that we’re not willing to come to the table and get a deal done. Or, we’re so concerned about protecting oil and gas subsidies for oil companies that are making money hand over fist -- that’s the reason we’re not going to come to a deal.”

He thinks that position isn’t “sustainable,” and even quotes several Republicans who think it’s not sustainable. Unfortunately, none of those Republicans, like Alan Simpson and Pete Domenici, actually currently hold elective office.

IF THIS WERE A LITTLE GIRL WITH A LISP TALKING ABOUT SANTA CLAUS, IT WOULD BE ADORABLE: “And my belief is, is that the Republican leadership in Congress will, hopefully sooner rather than later, come to the conclusion that they need to make the right decisions for the country... My expectation is that they’ll do the responsible thing.” He genuinely still thinks he can shame Republicans into acting like adults. That’s his negotiating strategy.

That’s not naive, that’s out of touch with reality on a Bushian scale.

Q: What about that War Powers Act? “I want to talk about the substance of Libya because there’s been all kinds of noise about process and congressional consultation and so forth.”


“we’ve protected thousands of people in Libya; we have not seen a single U.S. casualty; there’s no risks of additional escalation. This operation is limited in time and in scope. ... And throughout this process we consulted with Congress.”

Consult >verb 1 seek information or advice from. 2 seek permission or approval from.

“So a lot of this fuss is politics.”


He says you need to look at the history of the War Powers Act, which was enacted after the Vietnamese War, so if the kinetic whatsit in question isn’t exactly like Vietnam, the Act clearly doesn’t even apply.

“We have engaged in a limited operation to help a lot of people against one of the worst tyrants in the world -- somebody who nobody should want to defend...” Because if you question his unilateral war, you’re clearly defending Qaddafi. “-- and we should be sending a unified message to this guy that he should step down and give his people a fair chance to live their lives without fear. And this suddenly becomes the cause célèbre for some folks in Congress? Come on.”

Noise. Fuss. Cause célèbre. George Bush could not have been more contemptuously dismissive.

On the McCain-Kerry proposal for a one-year authorization of war in Libya: “I think when you have the former Republican nominee for President, John McCain, and the former nominee for President on the Democratic side, John Kerry, coming together to support what we’re doing in Libya, that should tell the American people that this is important.” Yeah, nothing says “important” like John McCain supporting it.

THAT’S WHAT STATES ARE FOR: “this administration, under my direction, has consistently said we cannot discriminate as a country against people based on sexual orientation.”

He said gay marriage in NY is “a good thing, because what you saw was the people of New York having a debate, talking through these issues. ... I think it is important for us to work through these issues...” Christ, it’s about establishing civil rights, not group therapy. “...because each community is going to be different and each state is going to be different.” For example, in some communities and states, homosexuals will be second-class citizens. And that’s exactly how Obama thinks things should work.

Well, fuck that.

CALL ME NAIVE, BUT MY EXPECTATION IS THAT LEADERS ARE GOING TO LEAD: “it turns out that the president, I’ve discovered since I’ve been in office, can’t dictate precisely how this process moves.” But he can bomb Libya or any other country he wants; funny, that.

A GOOD THING: “But I think we’re moving in a direction of greater equality and I think that’s a good thing.”

Asked later about his evolving personal views on gay marriage: “I’ll keep on giving you the same answer until I give you a different one, all right?”

On the NRLB’s decision preventing Boeing moving a plant to South Carolina to break the unions, he worked very hard to avoid taking a side, saying “we can’t afford to have labor and management fighting all the time”.

Fox’s Mike Emanuel tried to make Obama use the word “victory” as his objective in Afghanistan. He wouldn’t.

He says Qaddafi committed war crimes, which is odd because he just got through saying that this isn’t a war, including “potentially using rape as a weapon of war.” I guess inserting the word “potentially” allows him to keep using a discredited charge.

Q: Would you accept a political settlement with him involved as success from the American perspective?

Obama: I would accept him stepping down so that he is not directing armed forces against the Libyan people. He needs to step down. He needs to go.

More debt limit stuff. Flashing yellow lights, hard deadlines, “Malia and Sasha generally finish their homework a day ahead of time. Malia is 13, Sasha is 10.” So fuck you Eric Cantor.

And, yes, he got his own kid’s age wrong, but at least he knows the difference between a fake cowboy and a killer clown. Although he’d probably think John Wayne Gacy could be shamed into doing what Obama wants if he just uses the word “responsible” enough.

“At a certain point, they need to do their job.” He thinks raising the debt ceiling is their job; they think demagoging about the debt ceiling is their job.

THAT’S NOT WHAT THEY’RE CALLED: “Now is the time to go ahead and make the tough choices. That’s why they’re called leaders.”

WHAT HE’S BEEN DOING: “I’ve been doing Afghanistan and bin Laden and the Greek crisis.”

Then he talked about Americans who are losing their jobs and homes and contact lenses and whatnot. “And every day that weighs on me. Every minute of every day that weighs on me. ... And these folks are counting on us. They desperately want to believe that their leadership is thinking about them and not playing games.” Then he went to meet a women’s basketball team, but all that stuff was weighing on him every minute.

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