During the Bush administration just about everyone in Washington chalked up a dearth of regular presidential news conferences to George W.’s inarticulateness. “Dubya” was a gaffe machine with his fractured phrasing, made-up words and gunslinger cockiness. With such an easy act to follow, what’s the deal with President Obama? You’d think he would be holding regular press conferences to emphasize his strengths — sounding brainy, looking sharp, making sense — in front of a press corps that mostly has been in his corner. Instead, Obama has mostly kept away from off-the-cuff encounters with reporters, holding zero press conferences between July 2009 and May 2010.
The problem is Obama’s policies are unpopular, and getting grilled by a not-so-pliant press would underscore the point. So the Obama Team is doing what others have done when the going gets tough: play keep-away with the POTUS. He’ll do the occasional one-on-one deal with a reporter, which he can dominate, and stay away from the media pack. Crazy, though, to think that Obama would draw comparisons with George W. when it comes to press accessibility.