Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Barack Obama gets a B+ from CNN's audience on 100-day news conference tonight

President Barack Obama gave his 100-day news conference tonight (April 29, 2009) for one hour on all major networks. Afterwords, CNN indicated that a poll indicated that the public gave him a B+ (like about 89%) on the conference.

When asked about closing borders and quarantine, Obama gave a measured statement on the “H1N1” flu (aka swine flu) epidemic.

He said that closing the borders with Mexico would be like closing the barn door after the horses escape. Note that he talked about washing your hands after shaking hands. It’s odd to hear a president giving personal habits advice. He did indicate that there was some uncertainty as to whether H1N1 would remain benign in most patients as it spreads person-to-person away from the porcine source. But he did not get into the alarming matter of “social distancing” raised by MSNBC and CDC yesterday (see my Issues blog, April 28). The comments came on the same day that WHO stepped up the level to “5”, which is “pandemic impending”.

Later on CNN analysts said that Mexico had handled the swine flu situation much “better” than Indonesia had handled bird flu (what about SARS?) That’s odd; the Washington Times today called the world’s rhetoric on swine flu “hysteria”.

Obama talked about the economy, and said that he had inherited 7 or 8 “big problems”. He talked about having Uncle Sugar be a shareholder or bond holder in many troubled companies (banks and car manufacturers). He said that we needed to reform our regulation so that we don’t create another "pile of sand" or “sandpile”. With that terminology, he seems to be referring explicitly to the controversial and sharp-edged existential book “The Age of the Unthinkable” by Joshua Cooper Ramo (“sandpile” is the name of part 1 of the book). Obama has surely read this book (promoted by CNN’s Fareed Zakaria).

Later in discussion the “Freedom of Choice Act” he talked about the “area of mutual agreement” (a concept developed in chapter 3 of my own “Do Ask Do Tell” book).

His answers on Pakistan were a little more muddled, but he seemed to think that the Pakistani military was coming around to standing up to the Taliban. Afterword, Anderson Cooper’s panel discussed whether India or now the Taliban constituted Pakistan’s “existential threat” (a term often used by Rudy Giuliani). If the Taliban gets its hands on the suitcase nukes, who knows what will happen. Call Sam Nunn.

President Obama said that waterboarding was torture, and hinted that the previous administration had broken the law.

Anderson Cooper’s CNN panel did mention afterward that Obama has not yet addressed repealing “don’t ask don’t tell” which has been promised.

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