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Just when the media was about to give up on President Obama and reported that his approval ratings were dropping off, he held a press conference and turned the sinking ship around. For the past week, Obama has been criticized for his lack of comments on the Iranian election situation but today, he finally responded with much more force than he previously expressed. Even the concerns of John McCain, who has been ceaselessly complaining about Obama’s hesitance to comment on Iran should be quelled.
Speaking for just under an hour, the President responded to his new tobacco legislation, clean energy reform, and health care in addition to Iran. His first statement, saying that he “strongly condemns these actions” in Iran set off the audience and the majority of their questions dealt with the subject. The technologically savy group at the Huffington Post asked questions sent in by Iranian citizens, making it extra clear that the President is finally going to start actively responding to the actions there. Later, when he was asked if he had seen the video of Neda, the young woman who died in the streets of Tehran after being shot in the chest, he said he was devastated by the violence. It only took a week, but it looks like America is finally responding to the chaos throughout the country.
When the questions finally shifted away from Iran, the reporters focused on Ben Bernanke, like they were hoping that Obama would take this opportunity to send the Fed chief out the door but to no avail. The president thinks Bernanke is doing a “fine job.” Health care was also a major concern of the press corps but Obama seemed unphased and merely repeated what he previously said about the topic. Apparently, it’s too soon to speculate about who is gaining and losing benefits in this whole shifting of benefits.
Also on the topic of healthcare, one reporter directly asked the President about his own smoking habits following the signing of the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act yesterday. He says he’s 95% cured and never smokes around his family. But do not think that the law is about him. Obama wants everyone to know that his smoking habits are news-worthy only in the sense of human interest. He’s not denying his faults and while it might be exciting for the press, today’s press conference showed that Obama is taking everything as it comes. Whether that will remain an effective strategy is yet to be seen.