The Obama Presser: "Persistence"

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Here are some quick thoughts on President Obama's press conference:  the two big takeaways are that (a) Obama acknowledges that the deficit is going to be quite large in the future and (b) that he wants to convince the American people that passing his FY 2010 budget is necessary to fix the economy.  A smaller takeaway: the American people are inwardly-focused; even though 17,000 additional troops are on their way to Afghanistan and even though a major policy review / change is due in short order, the press wasn't eager to ask about it and Obama did not want to use the bully pulpit to talk about it.

Obama's opening statement sounded good in person, and given my vantage point -- about seven feet away from him at a 20 degree angle -- I couldn't tell whether it looked good or not. I don't think that it was newsy, and I don't think that there was anything in there for the highlight reels.

Unlike in his first presser, Obama was composed and self-disciplined. He resisted the urge to banter with reporters. He did not smile all that much. He allowed himself a moment of anger in response to Ed Henry's badgering on the AIG bonuses. 

Obama was defensive about deficits. His argument -- that they are necessary for change -- hasn't evolved much from the campaign, and his vague promises about Medicare and Medicaid and Social Security reform could have come from the lips of any politician.  The truth is that the deficit is NOT a primary concern of the administration; it's not NOT a concern, but his priorities are clear.

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Marc Ambinder is an Atlantic contributing editor. He is also a senior contributor at Defense One, a contributing editor at GQ, and a regular contributor at The Week.

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