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President confronts the pain

It was a mismatch.

It's not that President Obama did badly at CNBC's town hall on the economy. To the contrary, he handled himself well.

But he was confronted with disillusioned people in pain -- and didn't have much to offer them beyond programmatic answers.

This isn't a critique of the president's demeanor. He was engaged and engaging. But the agonizing of the emotional audience members left the greater impression.

There was the black working mother who told Obama she is "exhausted" and "deeply disappointed" with his failure to improve the economy. "I'm waiting, sir," she said. "I don't feel it yet. ... Is this my new reality?"

Obama answered in the abstract, talking about college aid, credit card reforms and a health-care law that requires the coverage of preexisting conditions. All fair points, but of no immediately help to the woman.

The young man who said he can't pay off his loans, and can't even afford marriage, said the "inspiration" of Obama's election is fading. "It feels like the American dream is not attainable for a lot of us," he said.

Obama responded in part by talking about education reform.

Even a small-businessman who credited Obama with saving the auto industry ended by saying: "You're losing the war of sound bites, you're losing the media cycles."

His one successful bit of jujitsu came when a hedge-fund manager complained that he and his compatriots feel like a "piƱata" that has been "whacked with a stick." Obama responded that "most folks on Main Street feel like they got beat up on." But he resisted the temptation to assail Wall Street, saying he wants to be "practical." That is the Obama self-image -- a practical man -- and pragmatism doesn't stir passions.

The president also brushed off a question from moderator John Harwood about the need for a "course correction," other than saying he wants to improve the tone of Washington.

It probably helps Obama to be seen as listening to the people. But he didn't make much news because he didn't have much new to say. The president conducted an intelligent discussion of the tradeoffs among spending, taxes and deficits, with a swipe at the tea party. But in the current environment, that is not enough.

By Howard Kurtz  | September 20, 2010; 12:46 PM ET
Categories:  Latest stories, Top story  | Tags:  CNBC, Obama, economy, town hall  
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Comments

If Obama really cared he would do something about the 11.1 million illegal aliens taking our jobs in manufacturing, construction and service industries. 8 million of which committed identity fraud by supplying their employers with stolen SSNs. A Felony.

If you haven't learned how much a liar Obama is by now, you may be hopeless.

Posted by: fury60 | September 20, 2010 1:29 PM | Report abuse


"If Obama really cared he would do something about the 11.1 million illegal aliens taking our jobs in manufacturing, construction and service industries. 8 million of which committed identity fraud by supplying their employers with stolen SSNs. A Felony.

If you haven't learned how much a liar Obama is by now, you may be hopeless."
**************************

It looks like this is your standard post. Perhaps you weren't aware that the Obama administration has deported illegal immigrants at a faster rate than Bush ever did. Indeed, the administration has been so active in enforcing immigration law, that the deportation process is working at max capacity - the pipeline back down south is full. The administration has also quadrupeled the number of employer audits for undocumented workers. The people at Fox apparently don't want you to know that.

Posted by: daubry | September 20, 2010 1:55 PM | Report abuse

Media Notes regular, respect your opinion, but president may know more. "Not enough" says your crystal ball, but may be enough of a starting point changing narrative to begin softening self-bigotry of anemic expectations. Pundits have to say something to have the title, but mercy upon us if we become dependent upon y'all being correct as so rarely are. Dear readers, please don't believe the hype ...

Posted by: wiggyone87 | September 20, 2010 2:32 PM | Report abuse

@daubry: You are incorrect about the deportations by Obama. It is the exact opposite, it is being called the "stealth amnesty" as most deportations are being cancelled.

http://www.pro8news.com/news/local/New-Immigration-Policy-Cancels-Some-102501709.html

The government needs to go back to the old ways like President Eisenhower who commissioned several naval vessels and instead of dropping deportees at the border where they could hop the fence, he shipped them to Vera Cruz. That 1,000 mile walk back but a halt to the return of these individuals. Google President Eisenhower and illegal aliens to see how it can and should be done.

Frankly, General McCrystal should be put in charge of border security. Properly staffed we would have tight borders in a few months. Then we only need to start shipping the ones in the Country south to Vera Cruz. But it is obvious Obama and this Administration is not interested in securing the borders or deporting illegals. That will change as we drain the swamp in DC of incumbents and have a new President in 2012.

Posted by: Bubbette1 | September 20, 2010 2:33 PM | Report abuse

Bubbette1, the article you post actually supports the statement that the pipeline is full. There are 28,000 cases waiting to be heard in one court. In light of the difficulty of getting all of the deportations processed, it makes perfect sense to focus on the those illegal immigrants who are dangerous.

What you are proposing is deciding that persons with brown skin are not entitled to due process of law. If the U.S. were to take boatloads of people believed to be here illegally, we would surely deport many who are entitled to stay here, including citizens.

Posted by: daubry | September 20, 2010 2:42 PM | Report abuse

Please do not develop amnesia. Over the next 6 weeks you are going to see a different man, one who will put aside his ruthless ideological agenda in an effort to appear presidential and gain votes in the upcoming election. In short, he is going to say what people want to hear because that is all he can do. Just don't forget that this is the most divisive White House in recent history, and one that has extended the powers of our government to unprecedented areas of American life. Please America - do not be fooled again.

Posted by: mandel17 | September 20, 2010 3:15 PM | Report abuse

The private-sector economy is a mystery to Obama. The only tools he is willing to employ is more spending, more regulation, higher taxes, bigger government, and empty rhetoric. None of these will do a thing to help the private-sector economy grow.

No matter how thoughtful and engaged he sounds, he is saying nothing. There is no reason to listen to him anymore.

L E T ' S V O T E !

Posted by: pilsener | September 20, 2010 3:51 PM | Report abuse

Howard, you forgot to mention that Obama's "town hall" was in front of a very friendly Democratic audience that applauded everytime he made a disparging remark about the Tea Pary and Republicans. Not exactly a real slice of the American public. Obama seems to be afraid to do anything that's not in front of a friendly audience.

Posted by: RobT1 | September 20, 2010 5:03 PM | Report abuse

It is really comical to hear Obama criticizing others for not having ideas when he clearly has no workable ideas himself. Pilsener has it right -- Obama has nothing to say and is not worth listening to.

Posted by: ChuckCardiff | September 20, 2010 5:24 PM | Report abuse

The person responsible for providing the audience is going to lose his job as well. BHO cannot stand that kind of confrontation from his own people.

Posted by: d1carter | September 20, 2010 8:23 PM | Report abuse

mrs.persident how is the oil effecting the globle warming

Posted by: ericathorn | September 20, 2010 10:22 PM | Report abuse

The republican party is going to reveal their 20 point agenda at a HARDWARE STORE LOOL. Are you kidding me talk about being out of touch with America that is why am hanging in there with the democrats because the republican party has no better solution and i dont know why people can understand they are the reason we got in this mess in the first place Mr. President Bush Mission Accomplished.

Posted by: pattonjerome | September 21, 2010 12:02 AM | Report abuse

I don't know what Mr Howard heard that we do not hear. I know we all have choices to make in life. You can choose to critizie our President, but be constructive and be professional too. As long as you are not working for FOX news organization who never see anything good in Obama administration.

How quickly can human beings forgets!!. This woman who asked our president the question is not surferig to me. She is not even an average American to me; even though she is a black woman. She forgot like every other Obama haters out there what the president inherited from the Republican president. The hole the nation found herself. We all are witnesses to the way the Republicans legislators has been standing in the way of Obama. All they know to say is "NO". Everything Obama has accomplished or under two years which we are not giving him credit for; were all achieved without Republican support.

"But he was confronted with disillusioned people in pain -- and didn't have much to offer them beyond programmatic answers."

Mr Howard, this was your views and conclusion about all our President said. I watched the video several times and I did not see any one so discribed-- disillusioned people in pain. You must must be day dreaming or something. Our president answered her well.

Posted by: wiser_T59 | September 21, 2010 1:40 AM | Report abuse

We are experiencing American's typical societal norms fallen short of it's values. They now focused on the presidential position and ignore the security implications of their political debates. America is a record holder of enemy treat across the globe. The enemies are exploiting America's positions, yet they are busy criticizing Obama for trying to reconcile America and the world. For the comment of the Black woman I think the media has something to offer practically to demonstrate professionalism. Look at this comment closely "exhausted" and "deeply disappointed" "I'm waiting, sir," "I don't feel it yet. ... Is this my new reality?"
The character portrayed here by this woman was a complete contradictions. She has the faith on Obama, but her comment was orchestrated by her ignorance. The media has to x-rayed such position and dig into such woman to ascertain her obligation, her economic position before Obama assumes office and her economic position at present, before drawing a conclusion.
When John F. Kennedy was the president of the United States then he realized that is not easy to give back to the people all the promises, then he set down "Ask not what your country can do for you--ask what you can do for your country." The quote was actually to shelve all the promises the people were expecting.
Now Obama is the president and such same circumstance has become "disillusion"
Today we have seen American democracy many miles away from "A model of democracy" It's now party versus party democracy without regard to services to the people. Obama is just one man in America doing his best for his country. He should be supported, respected and commended like every other past president of the United states of America. President Obama is the 44th president of the United States. It's already a set down that can never be erased in the history of United States of America. If Americans allowed the Obama administration to fail because of ignorance, America will never recover from the failure. It's the full responsibility of all American people, to defend the integrity of United States of America, no individual or party would be exonerated from such a humiliating failure.
The global economy and politics is very competitive at the moment. It's only an unbiased political ideology can save the American situation. Obama is fighting an internal political war which no past president has ever fought in the political history of the United States of America. Obama will ever face criticizers which no past president has ever faced, even if he got it right. Obama is an icon and a complete different president of the United States of America. He should be treated with respect because he came to restore, reconcile and not to destroy. He is an icon of history.

Posted by: mrharrisonogie | September 21, 2010 8:37 AM | Report abuse

Oh, the poor disillusioned dears. They put all their faith in their false prophet. And now that he hasn't kept his promises of Uutopia, they whine and mewl and plead for someone to deliver them. So sad.

Posted by: MrCleaveland | September 21, 2010 8:40 AM | Report abuse

I don't know what Mr Howard heard that we do not hear. I know we all have choices to make in life. You can choose to critizie our President, but be constructive and be professional too. As long as you are not working for FOX news organization who never see anything good in Obama administration.

Posted by: wiser_T59
###########################################
That's funny. You want professionalism from everyone but obama. He is showing himself to be even more non-professional than I believed him to be.
He is more like a spoiled little boy, who if he doesn't hear what he wants to hear, he sits down, plugs his ears and makes loud noises to drown out the American people he has "professed" to want to serve. Just because someone doesn't agree with your agenda doesn't diminish their validity. This is why people questioned his lack of experience. Seems they were right.

Posted by: tjmlrc | September 21, 2010 10:36 AM | Report abuse

I agree with Mr.Howard. Obama is doing his best. What he is trying to do may be good for the economy in the long run But, not really for the current situations of the American middle class. When he got in office things were already messed up.

Posted by: kid243 | September 21, 2010 6:33 PM | Report abuse

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