It took many months and the mockery of “Saturday Night Live” to make it happen, but the lumbering beast that is the press corps finally roused itself from its slumber Monday and greeted Barack Obama with a menacing growl.
The day before primaries in Ohio and Texas that could effectively seal the Democratic presidential nomination for him, a smiling Obama strode out to a news conference at a veterans facility here. But the grin was quickly replaced by the surprised look of a man bitten by his own dog.
Reporters from the Associated Press and Reuters went after him for his false denial that a campaign aide had held a secret meeting with Canadian officials over Obama’s trade policy. A trio of Chicago reporters pummeled him with questions about the corruption trial this week of a friend and supporter. The New York Post piled on with a question about him losing the Jewish vote.
Obama responded with the classic phrases of a politician in trouble. “That was the information that I had at the time. . . . Those charges are completely unrelated to me. . . . I have said that that was a mistake. . . . The fact pattern remains unchanged.”
When those failed, Obama tried another approach. “We’re running late,” the candidate said, and then he disappeared behind a curtain.
Then an agitator — columnist Carol Marin with the Chicago Sun-Times — broke in. Marin, a visitor to the Obama entourage who accused the regulars of being too “quiet,” accused the candidate of concealing details about fundraisers Rezko had for him and a real estate transaction between the two.
“I don’t think it’s fair to suggest somehow that we’ve been trying to hide the ball on this,” Obama answered. But this only provoked a noisy back-and-forth between Marin, Sun-Times colleague Lynn Sweet and Michael Flannery from Chicago’s CBS affiliate. “How many fundraisers? . . . Who was there? . . . Disclosure of the closing documents?”
Obama, while repeating his formulation that it was “a boneheaded move” to do business with Rezko, tried to shut down the requests for more information. “These requests, I think, could just go on forever,” he said. “At some point, what we need to try to do is respond to what’s pertinent.”
Reporters, however, had a different idea of what was pertinent, and the questions about Rezko, NAFTA and other unpleasant subjects continued to come. An aide called out “last question,” and Obama made his move for the exit — only for reporters to shout after him in protest. “C’mon, guys,” he pleaded. “I just answered, like, eight questions.”
Oh poor baby! Eight whole questions all by yourself! Somebody get the Pampers!!! Looks like someone might have trouble with that ‘3 A.M. phone call’, eh? What the hell do you think it’s like when you become President? You think it gets easier when you get in office? Get a grip!!!
Obviously, you can’t handle the heat. Maybe we need to get a women in that can????