DEFINE ‘SUFFICIENTLY ENRAGED’…. The New York Times‘s Jeff Zeleny live-blogged President Obama’s press conference this afternoon, and wrapped things up asking whether the president demonstrated to the country that he’s “in control of the crisis on the Gulf.”
During a full hour of questioning, he illustrated that he has a grasp of the technical challenges at work in the oil spill. He said the government was calling the shots, the buck stopped with him and the ultimate responsibility rested in the Oval Office.
But it remains an open question whether the measured tone that has become the soundtrack of Mr. Obama’s presidency — a detached, calm, observational pitch — served to drive the point home that he is sufficiently enraged by the fury in the Gulf Coast.
At least he resisted the urge to compare Obama to Spock.
Look, I appreciate the importance of appearances in politics, and I’m well aware of the general media criticism that the president is calm, professorial, and seemingly unflappable — far too much for reporters’ liking.
But basing an analysis of a presidential press conference on whether Obama seemed “sufficiently enraged” seems like an awkward standard. How does one even measure such things? If he’s not pounding the podium with his fist, is he somehow less engaged?
And if he is pounding the podium, is that relevant to the response to the crisis?
Kevin Drum watched the CNN coverage, and saw the various on-air personalities “solemnly advising us one after one that Obama really needed to be more emotional because that’s what the American people want.”
I’m not going to pretend I know what “the American people” want — and I wish CNN wouldn’t either — but if I had to guess, I imagine the public is more interested in stopping the oil gusher in the Gulf and mitigating the effects of the disaster, and less interested in whether the president meets some ambiguous, undefined standard of being emotional.