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Obama's Going To Need A New Press Dodge

Jack Shafer, while predicting the inevitable souring of Obama's relationship with the press, makes a good point:

One of Obama's most effective press dodges has been to say that there can be only "one president at a time," which he did twice in one press conference a few days after his November victory—first in discussing the economy and later when asked about Iran. On Dec. 1, he used the phrase again when asked about the Mumbai butchery. In late December, chief strategist David Axelrod invoked it for him on Face the Nation while talking about Gaza.

This "one president" shtick is entirely situational—it didn't prevent Obama from broadcasting his own stimulus plan on Jan. 8, 12 days before Bush was to leave the White House. Perhaps Obama's media outreach this week marks his premature segue into the Oval Office.

Granted, once Obama's sworn in, it's not like he won't have other press dodges at his disposal. For the first 100 days or so, he can probably plead that he's still relatively new to the job and he's been left a big mess to clean up. After that, I don't know: maybe he can do the old Reagan bit of cupping his hand to his ear and pretending he can't hear the question.

--Jason Zengerle