Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Is the bloom starting to come off the rose?

Good Day Readers:

When many were hailing President-Elect Obama as the coming of the next Messiah here to save us, we liked what a BBC World News commentator said, "They're already making him a national icon and he hasn't spent a day in the White House yet."

Clare L. Pieuk


'He's got to be careful that he doesn't appear flippant.'

Obama Seen As Too Cool For Crisis
President's quips are rubbing some the wrong way
Sheldon Alberts, Canwest News Service
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
When Barack Obama sat down with 60 Minutes correspondent Steve Kroft for a feature interview that aired on Sunday, the consensus view in the White House press corps was that he had just endured the worst week of his young presidency.
His administration had struggled for a consistent response to the AIG bonus controversy, veering from statements of outrage to the admission its own officials were partially responsible for legislation that made the US$165-million in payments possible.
Meantime, polls were showing public approval for Mr. Obama's bank bailout plan had sunk to under 40%, and Republicans had begun demanding his Treasury Secretary's resignation.
But Mr. Obama himself seemed utterly unfazed by the supposed turmoil engulfing his administration.
"I just want to say that the only thing less popular than putting money into banks is putting money into the auto industry," Mr. Obama said, laughing in response to Mr. Kroft's questions about waning support for his economic recovery plan.
Pressed as to whether he found the nation's economic woes funny -- or if he might be "punch drunk" from criticism-- Mr. Obama responded: "No, no. There's got to be a little gallows humour to get you through the day."
The 60 Minutes exchange -- which has already been dubbed Mr. Obama's "punch-drunk moment" -- has intensified a now-raging debate in Washington over whether the President is still treating the economic crisis with the gravity and seriousness it deserves.
The controversy is not so much about the scope of Mr. Obama's response -- he's already pushed through a US$787-billion stimulus package, and yesterday unveiled a US$1-trillion plan to buy up the toxic assets of U. S. banks --as it is about his tone.
"He is a very smart, quick-witted guy, and he's got to be careful that his wit doesn't have too much bite," said Cal Jillson, a politics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.
"I think, fundamentally, Americans love the idea of having a smart, articulate president. It's a change. So people like his obvious intelligence. But he's got to be careful that he doesn't appear to be flippant."
Mr. Obama will seek to boost public confidence in the economy -- and his attempts to revive it -- in a prime time news conference tonight.
The nationally televised news conference comes amid signs Americans are growing somewhat more skeptical about Mr. Obama's early performance in the Oval Office. A Pew Center poll last week found Mr. Obama's approval rating slipped to 59%, down five points from February.
The toughest complaints have come from Mr. Obama's very own supporters in the U. S. media, who say several of the President's statements and public appearances -- including last week's wisecracking visit with Jay Leno on The Tonight Show -- have undercut his attempts to show Americans he feels their economic pain.
During a town hall meeting last week in California, Mr. Obama was reading from a teleprompter as he described his personal outrage over the AIG bonuses. When his voice cracked unexpectedly, Mr. Obama made an unscripted stab at humour. "Excuse me, I'm choked up with anger here."


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