President Obama’s press conference in the rain was not a success, if by success, his supporters would mean an event which convinces anyone who doesn’t work for him that he’s getting ahead of the scandal deluge. The sight of a Marine holding an umbrella over his head only added to the weirdness of the event.
So what did we learn?
1. He has full confidence in Attorney General Eric Holder, the man who purportedly recused himself (whenever) without putting it in writing (whatever). When asked about the untrammeled snooping on Associated Press reporters and editors, Obama said he doesn’t talk about a “pending case” (except in numerous shootings, the IRS, etc., I suppose). He reiterated his intolerance of leaks. In other words, the great liberal icon is pleased (“no apologies”) with an investigation that went far beyond anything previously undertaken against a media outlet.
2. He’s going to get the Internal Revenue Service in tip-top shape. Still, it’s an independent agency and all. (The willingness to show he is in charge is undercut by his insistence he had no idea what was going on there.)
3. His lip-service to the importance of a free press that holds him “accountable” suggests the most important attribute he now has is shamelessness.
4. He wouldn’t say that the White House had no previous knowledge of IRS wrongdoing. Instead he said he didn’t have any knowledge of the Inspector General’s report before it was released.
5. He brought up funding for our embassies, referencing Benghazi, Libya. But of course we know that funding shortages had nothing to do with the fiasco that transpired. For claiming otherwise my colleague Glenn Kessler awarded Sen. Barbara Boxer (D-Calif.) three Pinocchios.
6. The president reiterated the same blather he’s been putting out on Syria. (“We’re going to keep increasing the pressure on the Assad regime and working with the Syrian opposition. … And we’re going to keep working for a Syria that is free from Assad’s tyranny.”) There was no indication the regime’s use of chemical weapons has changed his inertness on the topic.
7. Mainstream media reporters no longer pretend all is well and that scandals are a figment of conservatives’ imagination. Peter Baker of the New York Times: “Thwarted on Capitol Hill, stymied in the Middle East and now beset by scandal, President Obama has reached a point just six months after a heady re-election where the second term he had hoped for has collided with the second term he actually has. . . . He presides over a government that to critics appears ever more intrusive, dictating health care choices, playing politics with the Internal Revenue Service and snooping into journalists’ phone records. Yet at times, Mr. Obama comes across as something of a bystander occupying the most powerful office in the world, buffeted by partisanship and forces beyond his control.” Or maybe just not being truthful?
8. He said he won’t relent and appoint an independent prosecutor on the IRS scandal.
9. Obama wasn’t asked about his whereabouts on the night of the Sept. 11, 2012, Benghazi attack, the dissembling about the video that Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice said set off the attacks in Libya or about his administration’s negligence in anticipating al-Qaeda terrorism in Libya even after other governments pulled their people out.
10. Mainstream media reaction to the president’s handling of the scandals ranges from bad to terrible. Sure there are some very creative excuse-makers for the president, but they are now in the decided minority.