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Obama's Lack of Maturity Shows

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Feb. 9, 2009Watch President Barack Obama's full first prime time news conference in office. Video by AP

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First the apology.

Why did Obama feel it necessary to apologize for others' mistakes? If improper vetting was the problem, then say so and correct it. The tax code is absurdly complex, and most people with complicated lives hand over their numbers to accountants and hope for the best.

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Admittedly, the problem became comical as one after another Obama appointee turned up with tax debts. Q: How do you get Democrats to pay taxes? A: Appoint them to Cabinet positions.

But Obama's eager confession -- "I screwed up" -- hit a hollow note. Doubtless, he was trying to demonstrate "change" by distinguishing himself from Bush, who could never quite put a finger on his mistakes. Rather than seeming Trumanesque in stopping the buck at his desk, Obama seemed more like an abused spouse who starts her day saying, "I'm sorry. It's all my fault."

He appeared weak.

In Elkhart, the president seemed locked in campaign mode, still wooing the crowd and seeking approval. At his news conference, the overriding impression was of a man not fully in control of his message or his material. Nine minutes into the first answer to the first question, I began missing Bush's customary dispatch. Bush's contempt for the media meant he never stayed long enough to bore us. The faith of the American people may not have been misplaced in Obama. But the young senator from Illinois became a president overnight, before he had time to gain the confidence and wisdom one earns through trials and errors.

Those have just begun.

kparker@kparker.com


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