Yes, yes Obama appears to be finally doing a press conference. But let’s be careful, so you don’t get buyer’s remorse. The White House is not saying it’s a press conference. Read closely: “In the afternoon, the President will deliver remarks and take questions in the East Room.” They’re making it nice and casual which leaves open the possibility that Obama will bolt before the usual 50 minutes are up.
This event is less about taking questions than trying to right the ship on the Obama response to the oil spill, for which the public is giving the president poor marks. He’ll start off which an announcement that, “Oops, I’ve changed my mind on increasing the amount of drilling,” and probably offer an exhaustive and exhausting list of what he’s doing about the fact that the Gulf has become the new Strategic Petroleum Reserve.
And then my White House press corps colleagues will likely follow up with several questions on the spill, giving him even more message time on the issue. So, voila, you have a PR coup in which what seems a general press conference is an opportunity for Obama to “set the record straight” on the Gulf – the very place Bush’s presidency sank after Katrina.