The show jumps from host to host, each with a different topic todiscuss. Follow-ups are limited, before the show moves on to thenext point. That made it difficult for even resident conservative Elisabeth Hasselbeck to pin Mr. Obama down. |
(OK, the show is just like a White House press conference in thisregard, only on a different scale. But that s anotherconversation.) Take Obama s recent statement in favor of gay marriage as anexample. Walters asked him some good questions: Would he push a federal bill legalizingsame-sex marriage? Would he work to repeal the Defense of Marriage Act , which defines marriage as something that occurs between one manand one woman? Obama answered by talking at first about the reasons he d come outin support of gay marriage. In part, this was due to personalexperience with gay couples.
They said to me, 'You know what, the words matter.... Civilunions aren t sufficient,' said Obama. Fine. But what about working to change the law? Congress is clearly on notice that I think it s a bad idea, hesaid, which is actually a non-answer.
And then, before Walterscould trap him like a stray White House napkin, The View veeredinto another topic. Similarly, Whoopi Goldberg let Obama get away without answering her question on financial-markets reform. Citing the recent $2 billion tradingloss at JPMorgan , Ms. Goldberg asked if the president will hold anyone responsible.
This has to be the last straw, she said. Obama responded by saying that the loss showed why he had pushedfor passage of the Dodd-Frank financial-markets reform act. This raised capital requirements toenable banks to withstand such floods of red ink, and it made itagainst the law for banks to take big bets in derivative marketswith their own funds. You can t make bets on your own trades with your own money, Obama said of the banks.
Well, the trade that cost JPMorgan all that cash looked a lot likejust such a bet, but it fell within a Dodd-Frank exception allowingbanks to hedge against losses. Why was it still legal? There s afollow-up that didn t get asked, because the next host to seizecontrol of the show went in a different direction. We know we re being a little pedantic here: The View isn t Meet the Press . It isn t even Charlie Rose.
We have nothing against learning that Obama likes guacamole andcorn chips, or will watch any kind of sport on TV, even luge. Itisn t bad to humanize America s leaders. But Obama recently has been accusing the US media of a lack ofgravitas, according to a story in Politico on Wednesday. The president complained of a steady stream ofsensationalism and scandal in his address Monday at Barnard College in New York , for instance. The Politico piece quotes a former White House press adviser to theeffect that Obama likes The New York Times because he thinks they re serious.
He thinks the rest of you guys aren t, the adviser tells Politico . Point taken. But from our years in Washington , we ll note that in general, the biggest problem thatpresidential administrations end up having with the press is notthat it isn t serious enough, but that it is an unruly,unpredictable hound they find difficult to control.
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