Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations

Obama Meltdown?

Tens of thousands of words certainly have been written about President Obama's March 24th prime-time press conference . Maybe I've underestimated and the number is closer to hundreds of thousands or even a million or more. But I can't resist adding just a few more -- very few -- to the torrent of reaction.

I'm focusing on just one brief, but telling, part of the president's almost hour-long prime-time attempt to calm a nation. And we need calming because we are a people depressed by this deep recession that still shows no end in sight. Plus we're angry because millions of the dollars we've paid in taxes have ended up in the pockets of a few AIG executives. Chances are that we could have used that tax money to help us out during these dark days of joblessness and defaulted home mortgages.

So President Obama was prepared to help us cool down with a carefully prepared presentation. But he did take questions from journalists in the audience and although most were easily dispatched with thoughtful responses, one stood out as subtly ruffling the president's composure. He was asked why it took him days to react to the AIG bonuses with anger. His response had just a hint of testiness as he evenly countered with " It took us a couple of days because I like to know what I'm talking about before I speak ."

I was watching the press conference on KPBS Television's high definition channel and the purity of the signal gave me a glimpse into Obama's momentary emotions. It was a moment of rare transparency when the veil slipped for a moment. I saw eyelids drop protectively and a mouth barely moving as the words were released. But it didn't last long enough for me to detect whether that brief reaction displayed impatience, annoyance, or a quick look into the face of a man whose vast agenda of monumental and world-shaking responsibilities can't possibly be understood by any living soul. Perhaps Jimmy Carter, Geroge H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, or George W. Bush might have a clue.