WaPo 'Critic' Tom Shales Hails Obama Presser: 'Still Every Inch, President Wonderful'

Washington Post TV critic Tom Shales basked in the glow of President Obama in what you cannot call a "critique" of the president's second prime-time press conference. Headlined "The Very Face of Victory," Shales began with a gush:

Most of the facets of President Obama's personality that have made him intensely popular were on display last night during his second prime-time news conference, and so he emerged from it still every inch "President Wonderful," as it were, untouched and intact.

Shales noticed the president looked tired, but suggested that’s what the people want, someone who’s working overtime on fixing this "ruinous recession." He noticed "Once or twice, Obama also seemed somewhat defensive. He was even a bit snippy -- though justifiably so, it appeared," on the AIG bonus controversy:

Why did it take a couple of days, reporter Ed Henry wanted to know. "It took a couple of days because I like to know what I am talking about before I speak." Whack! It was a little like an old-fashioned teacher rapping a naughty student's knuckles with a ruler.

That would seem to have been a crowd-pleasing moment, the crowd being however many millions were watching the broadcast and cable networks that carried the news conference live. We like our Obama tough even though we also like, and probably prefer, our Obama gentle.

None of the editors at The Post seemed to wince at the notion of the largest newspaper in the nation’s capital cooing over how we "like our Obama." Shales even went back in time to suggest the president’s Special Olympics gaffe was overblown, as Obama proved he’s unprecedented in his TV cool:

No president, not even Bill Clinton or Ronald Reagan, has looked as comfortable on television as Obama did on "The Tonight Show With Jay Leno" Thursday night. Although pounced on later for a remark about the Special Olympics that some people found in bad taste (the criticism was way out of proportion to the alleged offense), Obama was a model of cool and a regaling charmer as he sat there chatting with Leno on what the host called the greatest night of his life.

Shales also suggested that Obama is just so smart and quotable:

He proved himself again an astutely pithy phrasemaker. When asked about the use of embryonic stem cells in potentially life-saving research, Obama said, "I have no investment in causing controversy." Regarding the persistence of problems in the Mideast, Obama said in a sort of footnote to history, "I'm a big believer in persistence."

Indeed he is so persistent that, because he wanted to end the news conference on the topic of the economy, he steered the Mideast question around to economic issues again, for his wrap-up. So it was that even though Obama did look tired, and had to wrestle with a seemingly faulty prompting device, and wasn't quite as energetic as in many of his other TV appearances, he still came out victorious -- not just President Wonderful but President Feel-Good as well.

Tim Graham
Tim Graham
Tim Graham is Executive Editor of NewsBusters and is the Media Research Center’s Director of Media Analysis