Feature

President Obama's prime-time debut

Grading Obama's first prime-time news conference

What happenedPresident Obama declared in his first prime-time news conference that passing an economic stimulus that creates jobs is more important than fostering the bipartisanship he promised. Obama rejected Republican critics who warn the stimulus will boost the deficit, saying inaction could "turn a crisis into a catastrophe." (The Washington Post)

What the commentators saidThe debut of "The Barack Obama Show" was not bad, said Mike Madden in Salon. A "calm, confident Obama" got to make his case to the nation for an hour, and the message he hammered home can only help him: "He didn't cause the mess we're in, but he intends to solve it."

Obama gets an "F" for honesty, said Ed Morrissey in Hot Air, for saying Republicans want to "do nothing" while the economy tanks. The truth is that GOP leaders in Congress offered two alternative stimulus packages. "The lie is particularly egregious" given that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi locked Republicans out of drafting the bill.

The problem wasn't what Obama said, said Walter Shapiro in The New Republic, but how he said it. Obama's long-winded, canned responses made the reporters asking the questions look like "potted palms." No matter—a president "blessed with the good will of almost all Americans to the left of Sean Hannity" can afford to experiment with new ways to deliver his message. Next time, though, he should be brief.

Obama's opening remarks were indeed a disappointing start, said Michael Lind in The Daily Beast. But in his answers to questions, "he gave concise and clear explanations, in terms that laymen can understand," to complex financial issues. What a relief, after the previous president, to see that "the president for a change was the smartest person in the room."

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