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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

President's 2/15 New Conference

I was surprised I wasn’t disappointed with the President’s even handed tone at today’s press conference. Maybe I haven’t shaken off that full of love from Valentine’s Day, but I can’t say that for the President. He was full of it, love I mean.

To the substance of his exchanges with the Press, he was definite on the more controllable parameters. For example, on the domestic policy front, his focus on the budget was short term, i.e. getting expenditures and tax revenues in balance by 2015. He reasoned that eliminating ineffective programs, i.e., 2400 programs in education down to 1100, sustaining levels that had been raised is not a cut, i.e. Pell grants, and, asking sacrifices he can get, i.e. freeze Federal salaries. He correctly recognized that resolution on longer run issues, i.e. Medicare, Social Security, depended on uncontrollable parameters indeterminate until the middle of the decade depending on how the bi-partisan relationship panned out. The President exuded bi-partisanship, but he camped on his key principles, i.e. that the budget supported his three pillars-Innovation, Education, and Insfrastructure, and his belief that Social Security was manageable (citing an O’Neill-Reagan type fix as doable) thus preventing critics from demeaning his leadership or exuding the hostility toward the Republicans that they richly deserve.

On the foreign policy front, he made a convincing case that the U.S. posture on Egypt was “about right,” i.e. calling for the people to have a government that responds to their needs 2 weeks prior to the change in government, then noting, the succeeding military government to date has been convincing in their commitment to that principle, that U.S. allies have supported the U.S. and no anti-American sentiment has come out of Egypt to date. He was careful to distinguish Iran from Egypt pointing out that Iran engages in practices of violence and repression if its people where the U.S. and Egypt revile them.

Unsurprisingly, the Press did not touch on the key risk in all this, i.e. destabilized government that hikes oil prices so the President did not have an opportunity to point out that key oil supplier Saudi Arabia is politically stable, and, the choke points in oil shipping like the Suez Canal and Sumed pipeline, only affect about 2% of global oil supply, hence would have little affect oil prices

I was left unsatisfied with the President paucity of criticism of the Republicans so perhaps my Valentine love wore off during his speech, but for projecting an image of reasoned and in control leader, he gets a pretty good grade albeit more for positioning for the 2010 presidential election, but also on policy matters.

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