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Obama's Full Plate

President Obama's got a lot on his plate. That was the major takeaway from last night's wide-ranging press conference. Heck, there was so much to talk about that no one even got around to asking about the economy or Afghanistan.

Obama declared that his administration is "off to a good start" and reviewed the achievements of his first 100 days, from passing the stimulus package to banning torture. He shared somewhat alarming statements about swine flu and Pakistan, endorsed immigration reform, praised newly-Democratic senator Arlen Specter, and launched into important disquisitions on torture, state secrets and bipartisanship.

Asked to describe the biggest surprise of his presidency, Obama said: "I am surprised compared to where I started, when we first announced for this race, by the number of critical issues that appear to be coming to a head all at the same time.

"You know, when I first started this race, Iraq was a central issue, but the economy appeared on the surface to still be relatively strong. There were underlying problems that I was seeing with health care for families and our education system and college affordability and so forth, but obviously, I didn't anticipate the worst economic crisis since the Great Depression.

"And so, you know, the typical president, I think, has two or three big problems. We've got seven or eight big problems."

I think he grossly undercounted. (Make your own lists in comments.)

Asked how he plans to run the various corporations that have come under federal control, Obama had this to say: "You know, I don't want to run auto companies. I don't want to run banks. I've got two wars I've got to run already. I've got more than enough to do. So the sooner we can get out of that business, the better off we're going to be....

"I want to disabuse people of this notion that somehow we enjoy, you know, meddling in the private sector, if -- if you could tell me right now that, when I walked into this office that the banks were humming, that autos were selling, and that all you had to worry about was Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, getting health care passed, figuring out how to deal with energy independence, deal with Iran, and a pandemic flu, I would take that deal.

"And -- and that's why I'm always amused when I hear these, you know, criticisms of, Oh, you know, Obama wants to grow government. No. I would love a nice, lean portfolio to deal with, but that's not the hand that's been dealt us."

Tom Shales writes in The Washington Post: "The questions put to Barack Obama at his news conference last night covered nearly every topic but the Craigslist Killer, and if that had come up, Obama probably would have answered it in stride. You ask, he'll answer -- earnestly, disarmingly, enchantingly, even -- and most of the time convincingly, which is no small accomplishment for a politician."

U.S. News's political bulletin reports: "Post-news conference analysis on the cable news networks was basically positive, though on Fox News, Bill O'Reilly criticized the President for not calling on the network's Major Garrett, who 'was in the front row,' so 'all he got were liberal questions from the media.' But on CNN, David Gergen said, 'In terms of mastery of the issues, we have rarely had a president who is as well-briefed and speaks in as articulate a way as this president does.' John King said on CNN, 'As a performer, he is unrivalled right now in national politics. That is one of the reasons he's trying to do so much so soon. Because he knows he doesn't have a viable opposition at the moment. So while he has the strength, he's trying to use it as much as he can.' On MSNBC, Keith Olbermann said, 'If watching him tonight, you got the sense Mr. Obama has tried to accomplish 1,000 days of work of change in one-tenth the amount of the time, that is likely no accident.'"

By Dan Froomkin  |  April 30, 2009; 12:15 PM ET
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"Bill O'Reilly criticized the President for not calling on the network's Major Garrett"

Gee, wonder if that had anything to do with FOX refusing to air the press conference?

The remaining few Republicans' egos are surpassed only by their oversized victim complexes.

Posted by: BigTunaTim | April 30, 2009 1:04 PM | Report abuse

What a relief it is to have such an intelligent and engaging man in the White House. I was particularly happy, and proud, to hear him acknowledge that waterboarding is torture.

Posted by: JCinCT | April 30, 2009 1:29 PM | Report abuse

Things, people, places on Obama's plate:

1) Pakistan and Taliban
2) Afghanistan, corrupt incompetent govt, taliban, al qaeda
3) Iraq and resurgence of suicide bombings
4) Torture and calls for prosecutions
5) Detroit automakers
6) Bank bailout and restructuring
7) Swine flu pandemic
8) Republicans in congress
9) Bailout
10) new Budget
11) Rabid hysterical right wing (e.g. Rick Perry, Bobby Jindal et al)
12) Assault Rifle re-ban
13) Continuing Bushs state secrets approach (ughhhh)
14) Unemployment
15) Health care reform
16) Defense spending reform
17) Iran and nukes
18) Korean and nukes
19) Gitmo closure and detainess
20) Growing Income Inequality
21) New laws empowering unions
22) Blue dog dems
23) Mexico as a narco state with gun violence
24) Womens rights
25) Climate change
26) reducing oil dependency
27) the absolute stupidity of the rightwing (e.g. Michelle Bachman)
28) Israel, Hamas, Hizbollah, whats left of PLO.
29) National Security
30) deBusing DOD, DOJ, FEMA, EPA etc.

I am sure there are more. But I think I will enjoy some of the sun while it lasts.

Posted by: mickster1 | April 30, 2009 2:37 PM | Report abuse

number 30) is deBushing DOD, DOJ, FEMA, EPA etc

Is summer here in the pacNW?

Posted by: mickster1 | April 30, 2009 2:40 PM | Report abuse

Good job, mickster1. Only problem #8 is getting smaller.

Posted by: dickdata | April 30, 2009 2:50 PM | Report abuse

Where are all the crazies? You all are making entirely too much sense! Nice work.

Posted by: tbartlett2 | April 30, 2009 3:19 PM | Report abuse

I'd like to remind the critics of the terrific job our overburdened pres is doing that, having hung the cape over the shoulders of this man, you DON'T pull on it! arco79

Posted by: arco79 | April 30, 2009 4:03 PM | Report abuse

David Gergen's analysis is right on the money. Compare and contrast the rightwing representative of your choice (Boner, Limbaugh, Bachman, Cantor, O'Reilly, Beck, pick your pundit) with Obama with/without teleprompters. His competency, confidence, and clarity are clearly recognized in the polls. Only the dimmest bulbs of the right refuse to acknowledge his prowess as a President without peer.

Posted by: mickster1 | April 30, 2009 4:08 PM | Report abuse

mickster1 covered almost all I could think of except comprehensive immigration reform, education reform, re-regulation of financial institutions.

Posted by: lesliekjo | April 30, 2009 6:07 PM | Report abuse

"'Bill O'Reilly criticized the President for not calling on the network's Major Garrett'

"Gee, wonder if that had anything to do with FOX refusing to air the press conference?"

Could be. Or it could be just that Obama chose to answer questions this time from news networks.

Bill's welcome to his opinions. That's what he sells.

Posted by: jpk1 | April 30, 2009 7:24 PM | Report abuse

Dan, thank GOD no one asked a question about Bo. I was waiting nervously for that level of stupdity to erupt.

Posted by: unojklhh1 | April 30, 2009 8:15 PM | Report abuse

31) Nominate a Supreme Court Justice.

Justice Souter is stepping down.

Posted by: fletc3her | May 1, 2009 10:12 AM | Report abuse

"In terms of mastery of the issues, we have rarely had a president who is as well-briefed and speaks in as articulate a way as this president does"

If you only consider Democratic Presidents it is not so rare, Clinton and Carter were smart people who had minds that could handle a wide area of different subjects. Bush Sr. Probably could, but would not be likely to try to explain it to the lowly American people, Bush Jr. and Reagan would not know these things unless they were fed them through their ear prompters...

Posted by: BigTimePatriot | May 1, 2009 12:04 PM | Report abuse

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