The president took questions from the media yesterday on the catastrophic oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. During the 63-minute session, Obama reinforced that the government was ultimately responsible for cleaning up the mess. "My job is to get this fixed," he said. "I take responsibility." But Obama denied his administration had been "sitting on the sidelines," saying that the federal government had been handling the recovery "from the moment this disaster began." Was his press conference enough to persuade his critics he is doing enough? (Watch Obama take responsibility for the oil response)
Flowery language won't save Obama this time: This PR push is too little, too late, says Peggy Noonan in the Wall Street Journal. No amount of "heightened language" can repair the damage to Obama's political philosophy. The idea that the federal government should occupy a "more burly, significant and powerful place" in America has been entirely undone by the White House's "dodging and dithering" reaction to this spill.
"He was supposed to be competent"
The president gave a strong, convincing performance: By using the type of language "normally reserved for the burden of sending troops to war", says Ben Feller in Business Week, Obama "unequivocally" took charge of this situation. He reasserted his leadership credentials "plainly" and "prominently." In terms of maintaining his government's credibility, he stepped up to the plate.
"Analysis: Why Obama says oil mess is his to fix"
It was long on words, short on actual substance: This Q&A may have been a "powerful rhetorical rejoinder" to the administration's critics, says Dan Froomkin at the Huffington Post, but Obama didn't say anything of substance to convince doubters enough is being done. Even his claims of a "hands-on" approach were undermined by his embarrassing admission he didn't know MMS chief Elizabeth Birnbaum had lost her job. Short on facts, this exercise in "presidential optics" was not enough.
"Obama's oil spill press conference may have changed perceptions - but the reality remains the same"
He needs to leave the lectern and go to the Gulf: Obama should know that "in a crisis, Americans want to be stirred into action," says David Paul Kuhn at Real Clear Politics. This president has always been good with words. It's deeds that we are less convinced about. Instead of yet another "bullhorn speech," Obama must "get in the mud. Be off schedule, unscripted. Spend time with victims. Show you get it."
"Obama's oil stain"
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