A Reader’s Thoughts

Re: our earlier post on the lack of WH press conferences…

    Re Lack of press conference, Consider the PR person’s dilemma. Giving reporters access to your Principal is a mixed bag. You can prepare answers (talking points) for the questions you expect. You can try to limit the number of questions, or who asks them. But fundamentally there is always, always a chance that things will go wrong. So you have to measure: Do the pros of doing this outweigh the cons? For this White House, right now, it’s a complicated picture. They are desperate NOT to expose any flaws in their approach, and they ARE desperate not to tie a weight around McCain’s neck by reminding the public that Bush is the Republicans’ lead guy on the economy. They know that many of the questions will hinge on the campaign, and they don’t want “Bush backs McCain” stories if at all possible. What’s the upside? They make reporters stop writing “Bush remains silent on economy” stories. Ooooooohhh. And they might get a little bump in the markets (though Paulson is the one the markets trust more). But they could also trigger an avalanche of Bush/McCain stories, could trigger a drop in the market (“Yes, we think more firms are going under.”) or could have Bush say something unfortunate on another topic. Even just reminding the public that he’s the “steward” of the economy is perilous. So they won’t do it. Not until they calculate that the downside of NOT speaking outweighs the downside of speaking. People tend to forget, if they ever knew, that it’s really pretty easy to anticipate the first few questions at a press conference. And that it’s actually pretty hard to get someone to answer a question they don’t want to answer. If I’m Bush’s press people, I expect: – Why was AIG worth saving, and not Lehman? – How long before we’re through this? Paulson says ‘months.’ – Can you guarantee taxpayers that they will get their money back? – You opposed extending unemployment benefits for American families, but you support massive bailouts for Wall Street. Why? – Aren’t you tying the hands of the next president? You’ve run up 4.3 trillion dollars more national debt. – What does this do to your legacy? (“how should Americans answer the question: “Are you better off than you were four/eight years ago?”) – Are we in/entering a recession? A depression? BUT, even with that sort of discipline, you never know what’s coming.

What do you think? As always, you can let us know your thoughts by dropping us an email, an anonymous tip or by leaving a comment in our comments section.