When a politician says "Let me be clear," what follows is often anything but. It's a tradition in obfuscation that probably got a big boost from Richard Nixon's "Let me make this perfectly clear," one of that president's signature phrases. But when Barack Obama uses it, as he did Wednesday during his fourth prime-time presidential news conference, the odds seem a little better than usual that clarity really is a possibility.
Anyone that came away with "clarity" from Obama's presser last night, needs to give me a call. I'd love to know what the hell Obama clarified.
As usual, Obama turned in an admirably effective performance at the news conference, even if it did seem a little too tidy -- and even rehearsed -- for nearly all the reporters to fall in line and stick with the matter at hand rather than pursue their own little butterflies as in many administrations past. Obama had a list of reporters and called on each one in turn; the assembled reporters played pass-the-mike, using a rather primitive hand-held microphone to address the president and pass along questions that could hardly have been very surprising to him.
He says that like it's a good thing.
Still, viewers who sincerely wanted to know the essentials of the president's health-care reform plan got an opportunity. Television even became an issue in the discussion, when one reporter asked if Obama had been true to his pledge that the debate on health care be available on C-SPAN, the public-affairs channels supported by the cable industry.
Obama's use of the personal and the colloquial helped keep him from seeming pompous, as when he said many Americans are being "clobbered" by high health-care costs, and then explained the necessity for a deadline on debate and action by saying, "If you don't set deadlines in this town, things don't happen."
If anyone would care to explain the essentials explained by Obama in comments, that would be greatly appreciated.
About the most justifiable criticism that could likely be made: "Barack Obama still seems too good to be true." It's doubtful any president would lose sleep over such criticisms as that -- no matter what the Cambridge police department might be saying about him Thursday morning.
Too good to be true. Yea, that's my criticism. @@