Filling the vacuum

FILLING THE VACUUM…. Watching Obama’s press conference today, I think I noticed three separate instances in which he mentioned having another press conference tomorrow. I had the same question Kevin did: “I’m not sure why Obama wants to have a whole separate rollout for this — maybe he just wants more than one day’s worth of headlines?”

Maybe. I don’t think it’s an accident that we’re watching something akin to a full-court press. On Friday, the transition team intentionally leaked Tim Geithner’s name at the next Treasury secretary. On Sunday, members of Obama’s team fanned out over the morning shows to talk about a stimulus package. Today, there was the rollout of Obama’s economic team. Tomorrow, Obama will host another event, apparently on the federal budget, hopefully alongside incoming OMB Chief Peter Orszag.

So, what’s up? I’m guessing this is Obama’s way of improving investor confidence and settling the markets before he can take actual policy steps to improve investor confidence and settle the markets. Axelrod acknowledged yesterday that they leaked Geithner’s name for the express purpose of giving Wall Street a boost (it worked). Obama introduced his economic team today, and as I’m typing, the Dow is up over 500 points.

Obama keeps reminding us that the nation only has one president at a time, but he’s also subtly reminding us that there’s a light at the end of this tunnel. McClatchy reported late yesterday:

Whether by design or necessity, Obama appeared to be using the deepening economic crisis to step to the forefront and seize the stage in order to reassure a nervous nation two months before he takes office. […]

Paul Light, a government professor at New York University’s Robert F. Wagner School of Public Service, said the rapidly deteriorating economy is forcing Obama to become the nation’s Booster-in-Chief before he becomes president.

“The markets are saying that George Bush is irrelevant to the economic future of the country, and they want to hear from Obama,” Light said. “Obama doesn’t have much choice but to reassure the markets as best he can. The ball is in his court whether he likes it or not.”

Rachel Maddow had a very good segment on this on Friday’s show, talking about the leadership vacuum that exists — no one’s listening to Bush, who went to Peru over the weekend, and Paulson’s credibility is shot — and Obama is simply stepping to fill the void.

And this, I suspect, is prompting separate roll-outs for all economic-related news.