Home / Obama’s First News Conference: Questions We Wish They’d Asked

Obama’s First News Conference: Questions We Wish They’d Asked

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Is there a group more trapped in the world of hysterical obviousness than the presidential press corps? In his first news conference as president-elect, Obama was called cautious in his responses by The Washington Post. Perhaps that’s not the right word. Bored brainless might be better. Every question, regardless of whether it was on foreign or domestic policy, had a hidden assumption that this guy was already the president, even though he had rightly opened his remarks by saying he wasn’t the president, that there was only one government and one president.

And the media not only missed Obama’s brilliant self-parody answer of the “dog” question, they actually treated it as another example of his wonkish self control and caution.

Oh, what might have happened if the reporters had asked real questions? Let’s find out.

Q: Senator Obama, is it true you’re going to have cosmetic surgery on your ears to prevent the possibility of being carried away by a really blustery wind?

Obama: Well, Michelle and I have talked about it, but, remember, I’ve spent many years in Chicago where blustery winds are considered the norm. It’s true I once was walking along Lake Michigan and an unusually strong wind lifted me up and dumped me into the water, but my ears served as sails, and I safely got back to land. So, the answer is no… although I will work hard to keep feathers out of my nose.

Q: Senator, you’ve promised a chicken in every pot, a car in every driveway, and a home for every American. Good campaign stuff. We know you couldn’t tell the American people the truth while running for office. Look what happened to McCain when he said we’d have to revisit Medicare spending. But now that the campaign is over, what sacrifices are the American people going to have to make?

Obama: (Turns to aide. “They can’t un-elect me, can they?” Aide: "No, sir.") Let me just say oy, vat a mess. You vouldn’t believe the mishegas. I just got an in-depth intelligence briefing, and, let me be honest, had I known what was really going on, I might have blown those three debates. And the economy, don’t get me going on that. Standing behind me are fifteen of the world’s best economic minds, and they can’t even agree about the shape of the table they’re supposed to be sitting at. And the beggars at my door — I feel like the Pope on Let The Beggars In Day at the Vatican. Car makers, insurance companies, banks, union leaders, former Lithuanian secret service agents, girl scouts, the homeless, the tired, the poor, rich whites, poor whites, Congressional Democrats… what am I, a free lunch counter?

For God’s sake, we really are a nation of whiners. Let’s be real, Americans are going to have to cinch in their belts — if they have them. If not, tie that rope tighter around your waist. It’s going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

Q: Mr. President-Elect, on The Daily Show recently you admitted that your white side and black side are often in conflict. You spent an awfully long time in the voting booth. What really did happen in there? Which side won, and for whom did you finally vote?

Obama: I won’t lie to you, it was a difficult moment. I wasn’t sure who was going to win until the last moment, when the white side of me was dominating, and my hand was hovering over the McCain button, but my black side rallied and called out, “Yo, there be a picture of Sarah Palin naked.” My white side whipped around to see it, and my black side quickly voted for me. Phew.

Q: Follow-up, sir. How will that affect your decisions when you’re president?

Obama: That’s an excellent question, and I’m grateful for the chance to speak directly to the American people about this issue, for it’s not a problem with which I alone must grapple. Italian Americans struggle with the choice between pasta and rice; Japanese Americans wrestle with the maddening challenge of cooked or raw fish; Jewish Americans… well, they already eat lots of bacon, so they’ve resolved that; Irish Americans try to drink bourbon to show they’ve assimilated, but they hate it. Most quickly return to Irish whiskey, mostly, as I understand, Jameson.

And let’s face it, folks, most white Americans already eat hush puppies, grits, barbeque, collard greens — although why they eat collard greens is a mystery to most black people — we only ate it because that’s all we had — so African Americans aren’t all that different.

Does that answer your question?

Q: Sir, your wife, Michelle Obama, is a formidable presence in her own right…

Obama: You’re telling me?

Q: …how much authority and power will she wield in the White House as First Lady?

Obama: Look, she understands that I will be the President of the United States. I understand that she will continue to be She Who Must Be Obeyed.

Thank you, and au revoir.

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About Mark Schannon

Retired crisis & risk manager/communications expert; extensive public relations experience in most areas over 30 years. Still available for extraordinary opportunities of mind-numbing complexity. Life-long liberal agnostic...or is that agnostic liberal.
  • “She Who Must Be Obeyed”

    I learned a long time ago that the husband can be unhappy while the rest of the household is happy…but if the wife is unhappy, EVERYBODY else is going to be unhappy.

    I really do have a very happy marriage. We’ve been married for sixteen years and we still get accused of being newlyweds (“go get a room, you two!”). I am the head of the household, but I let her have her way unless I absolutely, positively have to step in and say ‘NO’. And I do so with full realization that anything I say can and will be held against me for the rest of my natural life. But we do have a lot of fun. Go see ‘Meet the Fockers’. Us, well, we identify with the Fockers pretty strongly…but as with any marriage, there are times when the house gets pretty chilly….

  • Clavos

    Very well done, and more importantly, VERY funny, Mark!

    Best humorous political piece I’ve read (here or anywhere) in quite some time.


  • Ah, Clavos, bless your heart & may you live long and prosper.

    Glenn, my bride & I have been at it for almost 21 years, and it’s clear that I am the master of this house…as long as I clear it with her first.

    People, you do realize that She Who Must Be Obeyed was the brainchild of John Mortimor in his “Rumpole of the Baily” series, which are not only marvelously funny books about a usually inebriated small-time lawyer in England but an equally great BBC series with Leo McKern in the lead.

    BTW, should anyone have further questions (no answers please) for the president-elect, let me know and I’ll ask them in future interviews.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    I liked the silly Yiddish stuff.

  • I’m glad you provided these questions, since the audio on the press conference was so bad I couldn’t understand them at the time.


  • Lisa, he’s a man of many talents.

    Dave, that’s why we’re here–to bring enlightenment to the muses.

    In Jameson Veritas

  • And to do what I should have done first – Great article, Mark! A point made with humor is nearly always more effective and readily accepted than a point made with facts and figures and rhetoric (as I am wont to do).

    Thanks –

  • bliffle

    “People, you do realize that She Who Must Be Obeyed was the brainchild of John Mortimor in his “Rumpole of the Baily” series,…”

    I remember it as being H. Rider Haggard in “King Solomons Mines”.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    No, Mark, you’re the one with many talents…. thanks for the Sunday laugh:)

  • Very funny.

    Even I have gotten an overload of all the historians on Meet the Press and CNN today all but anointing Mr. O the messiah. I mean, I still think he’s great and all. But it’s tonic to have a [good-natured] laugh about all this.

  • bliffle, by george, you may be right. Just did a quick search & there’s an 18th century Haggard novel…i believe…with that title.

    Damn You John Mortimer!!!

    I’ll never trust a British barrister again…

    I can write no longer…

    To the rest of you…a fond farewell…

  • Bennett

    Fantastic as always. Thank you Mark, you’re the best.

  • Haggard wrote in the 19th century, not the 18th century, and it’s a reference to the character Ayesha from the novel She which is short for her title which is “She Who Must Be Obeyed.” Mark, surely you saw the great (well, memorable) movie made in the 60s starring Ursula Andress as Ayesha, along with Peter Cushing and Christopher Lee.

    And Handy – I haven’t had a chance to watch my Sunday morning shows yet, and now you’ve spoiled all the fun.


  • “She” was an even better movie in the 1930s, starring Helen Gahagan, the lady who was later slimed by Richard Nixon when he ran against her for the Senate.

  • I’ve never actually seen the 1930s version, but I remember there being a terrible Golan-Globus version in the 80s with the unattractive and talentless Sandahl Bergman in it.


  • HEY! Who’s dissing Sandahl Bergman here?

    I’ll have you know that to young sailors, she was Oscar material in ‘Conan the Barbarian’!

    And before you make any assumptions about young sailors, we were a VERY discriminating group of men, so I don’t want to hear about any concerns for the safety of the crack of dawn, okay? Besides, Dawn wasn’t our type – seems she used to spell her name with an ‘o’….

  • To DAWN –

    My apologies – I was trying to make a stupid pun and I completely forgot there was somebody on BC whose name IS ‘Dawn’. I’m very sorry – it was crude sailor humor not in any way directed towards you.

    Now I’ve long known what it means to put my foot in my mouth…but what kind of metaphor do I use when it involves a keyboard? Hm. There’s the ‘insert’ key….

  • Bennet, you are too kind, as well as being wise and sage.

    Dave, yeah, it was late…19th century. Still makes me feel like SUCH a low brow to give credit to that literary thief, Mortimer Snerd.

    To all who seem to know the history of this tale, I must confess I’ve never heard any of it & think you all may be conspiring against me! How could I have lingered this long in this life without knowing about all the movies, books, reality shows, and theme songs. Sigh…

    In Jameson Veritas

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    I know, Mark, isn’t it awful!? As much as I read and know, each time I find something out, what I find out is that there is something more to find out!

  • I expect others to be surprised by what they don’t know, Lisa, but, entre nous, I have amassed such a formidable font of knowledge that it’s rare to discover more.

    Either that or since I forget everything I’ve learned once I learn it, I’m surprised to discover that there’s anything I don’t know. I think.

  • @ #15:

    Dave, it’s not like you to be tautologous…

    Everything Golan and Globus produced was terrible.

    Merchant Ivory they were not.

  • Doc –

    I didn’t believe you, but just looked at the list that Golan/Globus made…and you’re RIGHT! I’ve never seen such a reliably awful track record in my life! But then I see how they stayed in business – most of their films was aimed to the not-so-educated-but-full-of-testosterone crowd….

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Wasn’t Globus married to Charo? Or Golan? One of them was…. which says something about taste right there.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    #20. Kinda like having Alzheimer’s, yeh, Mark? You meet new people every day?

    (Don’t give me shit, people. My mom has it and my sisters and I reserve the right to make our own sick jokes about it. It is our only way of staying sane. Kind of like policemen and their macabre sense of humor.)

  • Clavos

    (Don’t give me shit, people. My mom has it and my sisters and I reserve the right to make our own sick jokes about it. It is our only way of staying sane. Kind of like policemen and their macabre sense of humor.)

    I know what you mean, Lisa. My wife and I have a repertoire of “crip” jokes and references for the same reason.

  • Lisa Solod Warren

    Yup, Clav. Whatever works:)