Overexposed? Obama Takes it Back to Prime Time

After Leno, 60 Minutes and ESPN, the president big-footed sitcoms and reality shows for a money shot on his budget.

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Maybe next time President Barack Obama’s conservative critics would be happier if he puts on a Navy flight suit and hang glides down onto Wall Street into a crowd of hedge fund managers holding aloft a huge banner that reads: “MISSION ACCOMPLISHED.”

On second thought, they might claim that Obama was stealing their ideas.

Taking heat from a number of commentators for being “overexposed” during a week of appearances on ESPN, The Tonight Show and 60 Minutes, and with an op-ed published in 30 newspapers around the world outlining his economic vision, the president went live and direct again Tuesday in his second nationally televised, prime-time press conference.

Going in with a 64 percent approval rating, Obama continued to emphasize his view that comprehensive and coordinated long-term legislative action on the banking sector, health care, education and energy policy is needed to shore up the U.S. economy in the long term, and short term—nibbling around the edges of current economic contraction with a few tax cuts here and there isn’t going to get the job done.

The takeaways?

Operation Restore Banks

The TARP bailout is Obama’s Somalia. Bill Clinton took the blame for the ill-fated, early ‘90s U.S. military operation in Somalia, but it’s usually forgotten that it was George H.W. Bush who committed American troops there in the last days of his administration. Obama appears to see the same kind of misdirected blame coming at him in the form of George W. Bush’s botched first pass at bailing out banks—and he clearly has no intention of getting sandbagged like Clinton. First telling 60 Minutes’ Steve Kroft that he spends a lot of time dealing with his predecessors’ “less than optimal decisions,” Obama made sure to lead off his prepared remarks by noting that “this crisis didn’t happen overnight ... it took many years and many failures to lead us here.”

Ever Heard of Foreplay?

One of the odd patterns of the Bush 43 presidency was that the former president routinely disappeared from public view for weeks at a time, and then appeared out of nowhere like a cuckoo bird in front of cameras with a major pronouncement. (“We’re privatizing Social Security ... we’re doing amnesty for illegal immigrants ... never mind, we’re not...”) And Americans were eventually left feeling like we were on a bad third date with someone who was moderately attractive but sort of awkward in the bedroom. With a budget package as big as the one Obama has proposed, the past week’s media foreplay probably didn’t hurt. By the time Obama got down to the business of the press conference, reporters and the rest of us watching at home were primed for serious talk.

Harvard Law – 1, Press Corps – 0

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