President Obama’s honeymoon with the press is going to be darned short if he keeps this up:
[He] made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question.
Asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a Deputy Defense Secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face.
"Ahh, see," he said, "I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can’t end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I’m going to get grilled every time I come down here."
Pressed further by the Politico reporter about his Pentagon nominee, William J. Lynn III, Obama turned more serious, putting his hand on the reporter’s shoulder and staring him in the eye.
"Alright, come on" he said, with obvious irritation in his voice. "We will be having a press conference at which time you can feel free to [ask] questions. Right now, I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself to you guys – that’s all I was trying to do."
The president was quickly saved by a cameraman in the room who called out: “I’d like to say it one more time: ‘Mr. President.’ ”
Whew! That was close.
Good thing there was a sycophant handy, or the President might have had to face that ultimate indignity, answering a question! Here’s the video — roll tape, Tito. (Ladies, avert your eyes. Tito, stop rolling yours.)
I mean, who does that reporter think he is, Joe the Plumber? Hey! Someone find out if that clown has any tax liens!
Jokes aside, the president was able to mostly glide through the campaign because the press treated him as if he were their client and they were his publicists. I say "mostly," because there were a couple of telling incidents that show he doesn’t like to be questioned: once when he walked out of a press conference in March, 2008, after whining that he "just answered, like, eight questions." The following April, he complained when reporters had the temerity to ask him questions during a stop at a diner:
Asked by a reporter if he had heard that Carter reported a positive outcome from the meeting, Obama looked sternly at the reporter in question and said, "Why can’t I just eat my waffle?"
Asked again by the reporter, Obama bit — not at the question but into a butter covered bite of Glider’s specialty over-size Belgian waffles. With a wink this time he said, "Just let me eat my waffle."
(Thus the origin of our Public Secrets motto: "Hope, Change, Waffles!")
But now he’s president, and at least some members* of the press that helped get him that job are going to expect answers to questions. And it was surely a reasonable occasion: Obama walked into the White House press room, for pity’s sake. It’s not as if they interrupted him in the shower.
*(Those with a shred of professional integrity left.)
Maybe things are different in Chicago. Maybe he expected the same reception he got at the Washington Post. Maybe he’s just plain arrogant. Regardless, he had better get used to this. When the President interacts with reporters, they are going to ask questions, and some will press if they don’t get answers. Right now, the mainstream media adores him and is doing all it can to cover for him. But, if President Obama keeps treating journalists like misbehaving poodles, that will quickly end and they will make him live to regret it.
Doubt me? Just look at what they did to his predecessor.