Even the AP called the president’s press conference yesterday “confrontational.” I didn’t watch the press conference as I was spending the morning (Pacific Time) with my sister in the Bay Area before driving back home. And well, I’d rather spend time with my sister — or play trains with her son — than watch a political talkfest.
What struck me about the conference was the consensus of the coverage, with many pundits and reporters echoing the AP’s evaluation; others labeled it “combative.” I wondered, as I read the coverage, whether we were getting a foretaste of his reelection campaign, with attacks on partisan adversaries replacing promises of a new kind of politics.
A man who holds such a presser can’t run for reelection as the kind of politician he billed himself to be in the 2008 campaign. And offering such confrontational public statements, Jim Geraghty reminds us, is hardly new for this president:
What I think this reveals is that Barack Obama is not used to being challenged. Most of us have scoffed at his predictable straw men, his off-the-cuff references to tonsil-stealing doctors, his exhausted, “some on the right say we should take this extreme path, some on the left take this extreme path, but I choose this sensible path in the middle” framing of every issue.
As we recall from his attacks upon Paul Ryan at GWU, the Supreme Court justices at the State of the Union, and his jabs at Pete Hoekstra, Obama loves to go after his opponents in national addresses, with his targets in the audience, unable to respond. In the setting of the grandiose national address is that there is rarely a rebuttal.
He bristles when challenged and lashes out at his ideological adversaries. Is this the way to lead the country facing great economic challenges and a budget severely out of balance?