As Shawn mentioned below, the Obama press conference today was literally unbelievable. The "checkers moment" ("daddy, did you plug the hole"?) he tried to insert in the presser came after an hour of unctuous lecturing and evasion. This may have been the most disastrous presidential press news conference since Nixon's famous "I am not a crook" moment.
It's hard to imagine a Republican president getting away with the weasel words offered today by Barack Obama. The President couldn't determine if MMS head Elizabeth Birnbaum was fired or she resigned. Even the Obama bread carriers at CBS were skeptical:
Elizabeth Birnbaum's departure was first reported as a "firing." Later, a "resignation." When asked for clarity, President Obama told the press corps today he had no idea.
"Did she resign," asked CBS White House Correspondent Chip Reid. "Was she fired? Was she forced out? And if so, why?"
"I found out about her resignation today," the president answered, "so I don't know the circumstances in which this occurred."
An incredulous press corps followed up.
"How is it that you didn't know about Ms. Birnbaum's resignation/firing before?" asked another reporter.
Mr. Obama: "Well, you're assuming it was a firing. If it was a resignation, then she would have submitted a letter to Mr. Salazar this morning at a time when I had a whole bunch of other stuff going on... Come on, I don't know. I'm telling you I found out about it this morning. So I don't yet know the circumstances, and Ken Salazar has been in testimony on the Hill."
After unequivocally stating that he owned and controlled every aspect of the BP oil spill catastrophe, this President doesn't know if his own Minerals and Management Service Director, which had oversight authority of the BP, was fired or resigned? He found out about it just this morning? What we need to know, actually, is who owns Interior Secretary Ken Salazar: the President or Congress?
Then came this whopper from Fox News about the Sestak job kick back/bribe allegation that simply won't go away:
President Obama said Thursday that the White House is preparing to issue a formal explanation regarding the allegation that it offered Rep. Joe Sestak a job to drop out of the Democratic primary race against Sen. Arlen Specter.
The president, addressing the matter in public for the first time since the Pennsylvania congressman leveled the claim in February, said the statement should answer questions about the claim and insisted "nothing improper" happened.
"There will be an official response shortly on the Sestak matter," Obama said, when asked about the issue by Fox News at the president's press conference. "I mean shortly -- I don't mean weeks or months. ... I can assure the public that nothing improper took place."
This form of "I'll get back to you on that" answer is truly outrageous. Even the genuflecting hard core liberals in the White House Press Corps had trouble swallowing that command. Is there anything that this president believes he can't make happen with his ability to turn a phrase and make his listeners disabuse themselves of doubt? As Allah noted, via Breitbart:
"White House cover-up of Sestak job offer not quite finished yet."
What makes me think this inexperienced young President, a recipient of the odd combination of a nation's goodwill and racial guilt, has suddenly found himself wagering greatly on the outcome of one press conference? (That was Charles Krauthammer's point tonight on Fox News) Barak Obama did not have to hold this presser today but he did, perhaps because of a confluence of events that were bearing down on him: the Sestak matter, the BP disaster, his falling poll numbers, the looming 2010 midterms and maybe James Carville's unhinged and unguarded critique of the president this weekend. So why did he do it? And perform so poorly?
This president is not just losing the ideological battle spectacularly. He is being consumed by a tidal wave of events that only an experienced executive can effectively manage. In short, he's in over his head and we will suffer the consequences.