I caught most of President-Elect Obama’s press conference and liked what I heard. I’m very enthused about his gathering the top economic experts together and addressing the public so soon.
My sense is that Team Obama knows it has a very hard road ahead. The secret for them will be appearing to manage a tough problem — not actually being able to solve a systemic global financial collapse with any alacrity.
That’s what was so good about today. Obama did what any thoughtful, engaged leader would do. It’s amazing, but I can’t recall George W. Bush doing anything like this. When policy analysts, for example, pushed for a conference to plan for the aftermath of the War in Iraq, Bush, Cheney, Rumsfeld and company nixed it.
While Obama will be saddled with cleaning up Bush’s legacy, politically he has much to gain from his juxtaposition with 43. Everytime Obama appears to show energy and interest in a problem and communicates to the American people — one of his core skills — he will be judged to be doing a good job.
Now, for the substance. Today’s lineup suggests some real problems for the administration. Included were fiscal hawks, such as Lawrence Summers and Robert Rubin as well as economic progressives, such as Robert Reich. I see a policy battle shaping up between these two factions as was chronicled in Bob Woodward’s book on Bill Clinton’s first term, “The Agenda.” That conflict ended with Robert Reich’s resignation from the cabinet. The potential for disparate ideas being raised probably guided the Obama’s approach to the media today. They invited t.v. cameras in to spray the meeting but asked reporters to wait for the press conference for “sound” — the exact thing I would have advised for a meeting like this.
That’s not, however, today’s story. It’s enough that Obama showed action and interest. After 8 years of President Bush, that’s good enough for me.