26 March 2009

Too snippy or just a snappy comeback?

The President had a short press conference on Tuesday night that I happened to see. About two-thirds of the way through, Obama calls on Ed Henry of CNN. You can read Ed's version of what followed here. You can read the transcipt here. Ed asks this four paragraph long question about the AIG bonuses and other items which Obama answers selectively and then Ed follows up Obama's answer with,
Ed: "But on AIG, why did you wait -- why did you wait days to come out and express that outrage? It seems like the action is coming out of New York and the attorney general's office. It took you days to come public with Secretary Geithner and say, look, we're outraged. Why did it take so long?

OBAMA: "It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak."

Now, I thought it was a apt retort that made sense. I don't want a leader who rushes to a press conference as soon as anything comes up. There is A LOT to disseminate and research with the AIG news and waiting a few days to find out what is being paid, to whom, why and what can be done about it seems to make sense to me.
I thought it was interesting that in Ed's version of events, he acts like he was surprised to be called so early and couldn't go off-topic and had no choice but to 'hammer' him on AIG, even though other people had already asked about the Mexican drug problem and the Defenese/Veterans Affairs budget cuts.
I do think that Mr. Henry has good ending to his article, "What do I think? I've got no hard feelings toward the president and I assume he feels the same, but I can't worry about that. I was doing my job -- and he was doing his."

One other comment in Mr. Henry's column got me thinking. He continues his review of the moment, "But it's in moments like that we sometimes find out what's really on a president's mind. In this case, he's not happy about the scrutiny on AIG. So he did slap me down a bit." I've actually be doing some reading on these infamous AIG bonuses the last few days. Like the majority of Americans, I too was disgusted when I read about people getting these million dollar plus bonuses at a corporation that the government has had to take over and bail out. But after I read a blog post on an economics blog that I regard highly, I've started to learn a bit more and temper my feelings on the issue. I'm not saying I whole-heartedly endorse the bonuses, but there is a lot that is being misconstrued by the media and needs to be clarified. If you care to learn a bit more, read the blog post, then read this resignation letter from an executive VP at AIG to Mr. Liddy, and (optional) read Campbell Brown's thoughts on the letter. I agree that it is hard to feel sorry for anyone (guilty or innocent) who is raking in high six figure salaries, but disporportionate wages and the ethics of salaries like that are a completely different discussion.


  1. I saw this and thought Obama was fine saying this --but he(Obama) did immediately turn away and ask the next person to begin, I thought he acted peeved at the guy, which was warranted as the press guy asked something that had already been asked I thought.

  2. "So the exchange was a great political Rorschach: Each party saw their own talking points in the reflection of the back-and-forth."

    good insight