Press needs to be skeptical of president

Freedom New Mexico

President Barack Obama’s news conference Tuesday may have marked the beginning of the end of the administration’s honeymoon with the Washington establishment as personified by the Washington press corps.

Although the president was still firmly in command of his audience, the questions were sharper and more pointed, a little less reverential than in the recent past. A few of the answers showed a touch of defensiveness, even mild anger.

Perhaps Barack Obama is no longer The One in the eyes of the media but simply the one who happens to be occupying the Oval Office at this point.

Of course, it was inevitable this would happen, and we’ve seen signs for weeks. Campaign speeches can be carefully crafted to emphasize vague but reassuring platitudes designed to make a candidate on the side of all his listeners, from the very ideological to the vaguely moderate who don’t think much about issues.

But presidents must make decisions, and decisions inevitably disappoint some sectors of the public, even if they are explained artfully.

Recent polls show that while the president is still personally popular, many of the positions he has taken and decisions he has made are not.

Nine in 10 Americans, according to the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll are “somewhat” or “very” concerned about the budget deficit and disinclined to accept a “trust me” answer.

The automaker bailouts and government takeover of General Motors are not popular. As unemployment increases, and even the administration acknowledges it is likely to keep rising, people are less confident the “stimulus” package did much good.

Perhaps most significant, the president’s handling of the Iranian civil unrest, while certainly defensible, has attracted criticism from across the political spectrum.

The fact that President Obama was a little prickly in response to a few of the Iran questions suggests criticism, whether justified or not, has gotten to him. Still, he stuck to his ground, and rightfully so.

He was less impressive discussing health care and the economy. To contend his first priority is reducing health care costs and that he plans to achieve those savings by getting the government even more closely involved and covering more Americans, possibly with a government-run plan, simply doesn’t compute.

His defense of his still-amorphous proposals sounded more like a campaign speech, with elements of fear-mongering, than a description of policy that would have a chance to work.

And his discussion of the Federal Reserve showed no understanding of the key role the Fed played in bringing the financial crisis into being.

We don’t know if the honeymoon is over, but if so it’s a healthy development. Viewing a president as just another politician, with good points and bad, whose ambitions are potentially dangerous to freedom, is not a bad default position.