Four Insights from Obama's Press Conference

In a press conference void of spontaneity along a cafeteria line of generally superficial questions, it takes a microscope to find insights.  But here are four.

1.  What's been going on inside the Beltway while the media attention has been focused on the resurrection of the "torture" issue?  The President offered an answer in his opening statement.

"The second thing I'd like to mention is how gratified I am that the House and the Senate passed the budget resolution today that will serve as an economic blueprint for this nation's future. I especially want to thank Leader Reid, Speaker Pelosi, all the members of Congress who worked so quickly and effectively to make this blueprint a reality." (Source)

So Congress was preparing to spend trillions while our attention was elsewhere.

2.  When will Gitmo be closed exactly? Sounds like it already is. Another example of President Obama's self-actualizing language event capability. 

"We have rejected the false choice between our security and our ideals, by closing the detention center at Guantanamo Bay and banning torture without exception."

So, where did the detainees go?

3.  What constitutes a tax cut?  One definition President Obama uses is the reduction in monthly house payments saved by refinancing a mortgage. Now that's a creative definition.  His close association with the auto industry has him talking like a car salesman telling us how much money we'll save by spreading the payments out over five years instead of four.  Such a deal.

"And we launched a housing plan that has already contributed to a spike in the number of homeowners who are refinancing their mortgages, which is the equivalent of another tax cut."

4.  To what lengths will the President go to keep Americans safe from another terrorist attack?  Here's the key language that addressed that.

Q...And if part of the United States were under imminent threat, could you envision yourself ever authorizing the use of those enhanced interrogation techniques?

A...ultimately I will be judged as commander in chief on how safe I'm keeping the American people. That's the responsibility I wake up with and it's the responsibility I go to sleep with. And so I will do whatever is required to keep the American people safe. But I am absolutely convinced that the best way I can do that is to make sure that we are not taking short cuts that undermine who we are. And there have been no circumstances during the course of this first 100 days in which I have seen information that would make me second guess the decision that I have made. OK?

Let's see if we heard his answer, or non-answer, correctly.

The President will do whatever is required to protect us except authorize the enhanced interrogation techniques that the previous administration used that yielded information that kept Americans safe but were an unnecessary "short cut" to gaining information that could have been gained through other means.

It's not all my fault if that last sentence is hard to follow.  It's an inherently circuitous lawyerly route to saying, "It won't be necessary for me to use those techniques to keep us safe. Why? Because I said so."

For confirmation of that position, reread the second quote above: "...banning torture without exception."

To summarize the four insights:

  1. Congress was hard at work getting ready to break the bank while the media was reading CIA memos.
  2. Gitmo is closed - or is that just a metaphor?
  3. Refinancing is equal to a tax cut - which means it was a tax in the first place? (But wait, if interest payments are deductable, isn't that a tax increase?)
  4. President Obama has self-imposed limits to how far he'll go to protect the nation.  And the Bush administration crossed those limits while keeping us safe.