Obama's empty-podium presidency

On Monday, as markets plunged and America grappled with a historic credit downgrade, the president failed to offer leadership — and barely managed to even show up

Edward Morrissey

The Obama administration provided its political opponents with a powerful image in Monday's remarks about the S&P downgrade of America's credit rating. The White House called the press corps to the State Dining Room for a 1 p.m. ET statement from the president regarding the historic, market-rattling downgrade — just to stare at an empty podium for almost 60 minutes. At one point, CBS correspondent Mark Knoller tweeted that he hoped S&P didn't grade for punctuality, or we might get downgraded again before Obama made an appearance.

When President Obama finally did arrive, it only got worse. He delivered a speech that was only remarkable for its lack of anything new at all. Setting aside a tribute to slain American troops in Afghanistan tacked on at the end, the president failed to provide any new ideas or commitments that would either improve market morale and inspire confidence in his economic leadership, or even pose a new option for further negotiations. NBC's Chuck Todd remarked, "You get the sense, [the White House] knew they had to say something given the news of the weekend but he didn't have much NEW to say."

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