As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Obama to the Gulf – Message: “I Care!”

There are rumors that White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs is walking around with a bandage on his hand, wounded from all the high fiving that went on in the communications shop after Obama’s press conference yesterday. To understand why, let’s review the following secret document, obtained by White House Dossier, which details the White House press conference strategy:

Secret Presidential Document #4320-4a – Note: please don’t give to reporters and definitely not to Koffler and his stupid blog.

Problem: People Think Obama’s Response to the Gulf Oil Spill Sucks. The Gulf is Where George W. Bush’s Presidency Ended.

Solution: Get the President on the Bully Pulpit and Have Him Talk About What We’re Doing

Now, let’s look at how the White House did.

Obama during his press conference called on only ten reporters, a testament to his ability hold onto the ball and consistently violate the 30 second clock without the refs noticing.

He launched the event with a detailed statement on his efforts to stop the bleeding in the Gulf. After that, eight of the ten reporters he called on asked about the oil spill, just as Gibbs & Co. had hoped.

One of the two exceptions was actually helpful to the White House. Seemingly out of nowhere – and I guarantee you it wasn’t – Obama toward the end also called on someone named Macarena Vidal, who dutifully asked about another favorite Obama topic, immigration. Not saying she told the White House what her question was – I don’t know. Only that they had a damn good idea what she would ask.

Helen ThomasObama also submitted himself to one “you get a free surprise” moment, calling on Helen Thomas, who does whatever the Hell she wants at this point. She asked when we were going to stop killing people overseas or something.

The rest of the reporters were big shots from mainstream outlets. I have to say, as bad as things are in the Gulf, there are other serious things going on in the world that should have been asked about. Reporters get four things in their head in a situation like this:

1. My editors damn well expect me to ask a question about the Gulf of Mexico disaster.

2. Everybody else is asking. The president and the White House have said this is a press conference on the oil spill. Do I really want to get out of line and look like a renegade – or like I don’t care about the people in the Gulf – by asking about something else?

3. The only questions I’ve written out on my pad are about the Gulf.

4. Why did Obama schedule a press conference during lunch?

To be sure, the president got some tough questions and didn’t hit every one of them out of the park. But he did get to explain things. And we must look at the totality of the impact.

The White House produced nearly an hour of the president talking about the oil spill, and everyone wrote an article about Obama and the Gulf of Mexico for this morning. This, followed by Obama’s trip to Louisiana today, creates a generic message in the minds of Americans: “OBAMA CARES ABOUT THE OIL SPILL AND IS DOING EVERYTHING HE CAN, so get off his back and love him again.”

Gibbs, from three: Swishhhhhhh

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4 Responses to Obama to the Gulf – Message: “I Care!”

  1. That sounds like Helen Thomas, all right.

    Let me ask you something, Keith. A lot of folks in the media have referred to Katrina as the beginning of the end for Bush, but my impression during 2005 and 2006 was that he already politically hobbled himself by trying to sell his Social Security privatization plan. The polls showed that the more he tried to sell it, the less people trusted it. It seemed to me at that point that he just made himself a lame duck by proving to the Republicans in Congress that he wasn’t going to be able to cover for them anymore on votes that might not be so popular. Katrina was obviously the coup de grace, as the Bush response to that reached a far broader audience, but I think that without Katrina, Bush would still have been ineffective in his second term, and the economy would still have crashed, taking away any last vestige of Bush popularity with it. Right, there was supposed to be a question in there. What is your take on this?

    • PM – I think you may be right. Coup de Grace may be a better description, though I think it was a little bit more than that. Social Security was such a big thing for him and it didn’t even get out of committee, a definite sign that his leverage was going. It may have been a bigger blow. Not to mention Iraq and what it did to his polls. Polls are huge for a president’s ability to get anything done.