Yet, during all that time, the man they hope to defeat next November has rarely been asked by news reporters about many of these issues. Since August, President Obama has held only one formal White House news conference. That came on Oct. 6, nearly three months ago. It lasted 74 minutes, shorter than any single Republican debate, and the president was asked 17 questions, most of them softballs on the economy and his latest legislative proposals to create jobs.
No questions on immigration, no questions on Iran or Iraq or Afghanistan or Israel or North Korea -- global trouble spots the GOP candidates have been queried about repeatedly. Moreover, he was not asked about what spending cuts he would make to reduce the deficit, nothing about Medicare and Social Security reform or his health care law, all familiar questions for the Republicans seeking his job.
Benedetto is correct is surmising that Obama's silence is a calculated strategy. In the view of the MSM, the President seems cool and above the fray, while Republicans spar over virtually all elements of American public policy. Some analysts believe this approach was responsible for a recent bump in Mr. Obama's approval numbers, although that spike was extremely short-lived.
But there's a more disturbing aspect to this scenario, and it goes well beyond MSM reporters who are in the tank for Obama. Indeed, the fact that journalists are openly aiding the President in his re-election bid is hardly a surprise; the White House press corps, along with the majority of reporters who work inside The Beltway, are overwhelmingly liberal, and have much invested in the political fortunes of Barack Obama. So far, relatively few of the MSM crowd seem willing to jump ship, and they're quite willing to regurgitate stories that advance the campaign narrative.
From our perspective, Mr. Obama's refusal to engage on critical issues is more than a campaign strategy--it reflects an administration that clearly lacks ideas. Consider the recent change-of-leadership in North Korea. The death of Kim Jong-il clearly caught U.S. leaders by surprise, and so far, our policy towards the new regime seems to be a continuation of the engagement and appeasement approach that has failed miserably for more than a decade. Now would be a good time to re-engage China (and other regional partners) on the subject of North Korea, with a long-term goal of putting more pressure on Kim Jong-un and forcing genuine concessions from his regime, in exchange for increased humanitarian aid and economic development--once DPRK compliance has been confirmed.
Then, there's the matter of Iran. Tehran recently launched major naval exercises in the Persian Gulf and has made veiled threats about closing the Strait of Hormuz. So far, the U.S. response has been a quote from an unnamed administration official who complained about Iranian "saber-rattling." President Obama was apparently too busy with his Hawaiian vacation to offer his own comments, suggesting (once again) that the administration isn't quite sure what Iran is up to--or what to do about it.
And maybe that explains why the press corps won't press Obama on key domestic and international concerns. Not only would tough questioning put "their guy" on the spot, it might also affirm his lack of engagement and thought on these and other issues. In a recent interview, the President admitted he has a "lazy streak." So, it's more convenient for him to trot out Hillary Clinton to field questions on Iran, or let Press Secretary Jay Carney handle queries about North Korea.
In any case (as Richard Benedetto reminds us), the American public remains badly served by a press corps that refuses to do its job. Not that we'd expect anything less from the MSM at the end of 2011. And they wonder why their audience and readership numbers are in free-fall.