Today, with the debt ceiling negotiations still stuck in neutral, President Obama held a news conference to argue for a longer-term compromise. It was his second presser in two weeks on the subject, and last time may have been remembered for his tongue-lashing aimed at "corporate jet owners." This time, the phrase of the moment we've been seeing splayed all over media outlets after the dust settled on his short remarks was his "eat our peas" refrain. More specifically, via ABC News:
"We might as well do it now," Obama said of the aversion to compromise in both parties. "Pull off the band-aid. Eat our peas. Let's step up. Let's do it. I'm prepared to take significant heat from my party to get it done. I expect the other side should do the same."
Here are few of the notable reactions to Obama's press conference: Naturally, pundits spent an equal amount of time critiquing both the tone and substance of the remarks:
- Chris Cillizza at The Washington Post boiled the president's entire message down to this: "Adults sometimes have to do things that they don’t want to do. This is one of those times." And added about Obama's paternal tone:
The danger in taking that approach is that Obama could be perceived by some as too didactic and preachy. That’s likely the push back that Republicans will offer in the wake of the Obama press conference — that they, not the president, are the ones looking out for the American people and that the “adult vs kids” construct he laid out should, in fact, be reversed.
- Christi Parsons at The Los Angeles Times highlights Obama's strategy to draw attention and consistently trumpet compromise:
The clear theme of Obama's message now is his own personal willingness to compromise, a reminder he has begun to deliver with every tour before the cameras. By commanding an hour's worth of television time today – the second such performance in two weeks – he is making it clear to Republicans that he plans to make liberal use of the presidential podium as the talks wear on.
- David Weigel at Slate wonders why the president is so bad at explaining macroeconomics:
The polling we've seen about the debt ceiling, which shows that most people don't want to raise it, suggests that Americans don't understand how the mechanism actually works. It's complicated, but not so complicated that you can't explain it in a short speech.
- David Kurtz at Talking Points Memo appears to like the president's more strident tone:
I'm oversimplifying a bit but if you look at Obama's rhetoric on the debt ceiling fight, it's been heavily weighted toward how reasonable he is being. And that hasn't worked very well. Today he's shifted his tone more to how unreasonable the Republicans are being. That has a chance to get some traction, maybe not with voters but DC media. He badly needs that narrative to stick -- and the fact that is an accurate and true narrative means it's on him to make it stick. This presser is at least a step in that direction.
- Ezra Klein at The Washington Post theorizes about the strategy behind the short address:
Obama’s presser today was about ensuring that outside pressure crushes the Republicans, or maybe even some of the congressional Democrats, but not him. He’s “bending over backwards” to get a deal, he’s “willing to take heat from his own party” for addressing entitlements, he likes and respects Speaker John Boehner and, by implication, Boehner likes and respects him, but the internal politics of the GOP are making a compromise impossible.
- Philip Klein at The Washington Examiner sees Obama taking a long-view for the 2012 election:
A more realistic interpretation of Obama's intentions is that he very much wants to create the public appearance that he's ready to take on liberal "sacred cows" and cut spending, while pushing for a deal that includes massive tax increases that he knows House Speaker John Boehner cannot accept. Thus, when Republicans attack his atrocious fiscal record during next year's election, he can say, "I offered Republicans the chance to tackle our long-term debt problem, but they refused so that they could protect tax loopholes for millionaires and billionaires."