I’d hate to be the White House aide who…

President Barack Obama, preparing to discuss Obamacare and his administration’s controversial intelligence-gathering programs, strode to the podium at San Jose’s Fairmont Hotel this morning, greeted the crowd of reporters – and paused.

“I think there’s only one problem, and that is that my remarks are not sitting here,” he said, smiling and gesturing to the podium before calling offstage, “People!”

“By Friday afternoon, things get a little challenged,” he said, drawing laughter; a moment later, an aide handed him his notes. “Oh, somebody is tripping. Folks are sweating back there right now.”

Josh Richman

Josh Richman covers state and national politics for the Bay Area News Group. A New York City native, he earned a bachelor’s degree in journalism from the University of Missouri and reported for the Express-Times of Easton, Pa. for five years before coming to the Oakland Tribune and ANG Newspapers in 1997. He is a frequent guest on KQED Channel 9’s “This Week in Northern California;” a proud father; an Eagle Scout; a somewhat skilled player of low-stakes poker; a rather good cook; a firm believer in the use of semicolons; and an unabashed political junkie who will never, EVER seek elected office.

  • JohnW

    Oops! Cool way he handled it. Marco Rubio would have broken out in sweat, ducked, reached, and looked all over the place.

    A 60-second blurb from the speech that was on the news did a better job of explaining the health care bill and benefits than the administration has done over the past three years.

  • JAFO

    No question that BO has a gift for delivery, but the man is absolutely helpless without prepared remarks. Of course, this incident was not his fault, but you can easily spot the countless other times when he’s been forced to ad lib. His innumerable “and uh” bridges during impromptu presentations and his trade marked ten-minute responses to nearly every press conference question are dead giveaways that his teleprompter is nowhere to be found. It’s been said by some that he has a gift for oratory. Perhaps. But not without a well-crafted script in a neaby machine, or in this case, the hands of a nearby aid.

  • JohnW


    I disagree that he is “absolutely helpless without prepared remarks.” I’ve seen him in countless unscripted situations and made a point of “grading” him due to all the BS that he can’t speak without a teleprompter. In my opinion, he does fine in terms of summoning lots of facts and framing his remarks. The “uh” thing is no big deal. JFK and his brothers did that too, and nobody ever accused them of being helpless without prepared remarks.

    I will agree that he goes on too long in his responses, but it’s not because he doesn’t know what to say or because he repeats himself. It’s just a bad habit by somebody who tends to speak the way he writes.

  • JohnW


    I should have mentioned that one of the most moving speeches I ever saw was when RFK spoke to a stadium full of people in Indianapolis the night Martin Luther King was assassinated. The speech was full of “uh” pauses.

  • Elwood

    John heart Barack

  • JAFO


    “It’s just a bad habit by somebody who tends to speak the way he writes.” No, it’s just a bad habit by somebody who keeps talking while he tries to think of something to say.

  • JohnW


    Elwood, that would be “hearts” with an “s.”

    True. I do have a much higher opinion of him, warts and all, than most commenters on this here blog. I don’t have to search very far to find things to criticize Obama of Democrats in general about. But the Democratic party of today is pretty much the one of my youth. Today’s Republican party is nothing like the GOP of my youth. If it were further to the right, it would fall off the edge of its flat Earth.

    On my side, we have a Weiner. But the other side has way, way more than its fair share of pricks, not to mention village idiots.

    Don’t take my word for it. Consider the just released 95-page report, based on a pair of 800-subject surveys and six focus groups. Highlights: the GOP is seen as “closed-minded, racist, rigid and old fashioned.” Latinos “tend to think the GOP couldn’t care less about them.” The report, which was the work of College Republicans, states: “We’ve become the party that will pat you on your back when you make it, but won’t offer you a hand to help you get there.”

    So, yes, compared to all that, “John hearts Barack.”

  • JohnW

    #6 JAFO

    You’re entitled to your opinion. Mine is that the man does not think in “sound bites.” I will concede that there may also be an element of “filibuster” when he gives a lengthy answer at a press conference Longer answers; fewer questions. But I strongly disagree with your observation that it’s a matter of running his mouth while trying to think what to say.

  • JAFO

    #7 John W

    I agree with your observation that the parties, arguably more the Republican than the Democrat, have changed since our youth. While we’re thinking fondly of yesteryear, I recall learning in my civics classes that the cornerstone of our two-party system was the ability, indeed the need, to compromise. Today, while both parties pay lip service to bi-partenship, compromise has become a dirty word. Both parties, bolstered by their respective high-voltage special interest groups, hold their representative to entirely inflexible positions. Each side has its own absolute litmus tests that elected representatives or candidates dare not violate, let alone even question, for fear of retaliation. Reaching out inevitably leads to an unrelenting and very public rebuke. Special interest groups on both sides define compromise as “we win, you lose.” Sadly, I don’t see the situation changing. It’s the “new normal” I hear so much about.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    O’Bailout is getting uglier by the day. I would rather have Jennifer Granholm lie to me on TV. Or a cute dog. I’m amazed no one got on my case for commenting on Granholm’s looks, like they got on the case of the guy who commented on our A.G.s looks.
    The remote control almost keeps me from seeing to much of B.H. O’Bailout.

  • JohnW


    She is indeed nice looking. A former beauty pageant winner, in fact. Also a UC Berkeley and Harvard Law grad, Michigan AG and twice elected Michigan governor. If Holder leaves, I hope Obama considers her for the AG job.

    As for O’Bailout, unless you had all your money in gold in 2008, you should be glad that there was a GWB/Paulson/Bernanke/Geithner/BHO bailout. Easy to slam, until you consider what would have happened without it.

  • Elwood

    ” Easy to slam, until you consider what would have happened without it.”

    Pure conjecture.

    No basis in fact.

  • JohnW

    #12 “Pure conjecture”

    Sure, like if you jump off the GG, there’s a chance you might get out of it with a some broken bones. It’s “pure conjecture” that something worse will happen.

    I listened to the economists and financial experts, not to mention both Bush and his successor, who said it would be global financial Armageddon. Then, I listened to the House politicians, including some Democrats, who were against the bailout. They were split between those who didn’t believe the Armageddon scenario (you know, with all their expertise) and those who sort of believed it but said that we should let it happen anyway. “That’ll show those greedy banks and AIG!”

  • Elwood

    “economists and financial experts”

    More pure conjecture. Most of those people are unable to find their rear end with both hands. As Harry Truman said, “What I need is a one-armed economist, because the ones I have keep saying ‘on the other hand’.”

    We might have been better off to swallow the bitter medicine, let GM and the banks go broke and rebuild from the ashes. But we’ll never know, will we?

  • RR senile columnist

    Bush an’ Cheney, you can’t hide! We charge yous wit’ Econo-cide!

  • JohnW

    “But we’ll never know, will we?”

    Thankfully, that’s true.

    Yes, economists and financial experts can make bad calls. Engineers can build bad bridges. Doctors can make incorrect diagnoses. Even people posting to blogs can be mistaken!

    But I still listen to what experts have to say and weigh that in relationship to what my own knowledge and instincts tell me. In my opinion, they were absolutely right about the consequences of inaction regarding the financial bailout. Some of the specifics were regrettable. But, looking at the big picture, I am 100% convinced Bush, Obama and their teams saved the day. Hank Paulson was a product of Goldman Sachs and a Bushie. But I have tremendous respect for his leadership during that crisis.

    I don’t believe for an instant that we would “have been better off to swallow the bitter medicine” and “rebuild from the ashes.” I also strongly supported the auto bailout, but that’s a separate matter. Lots was at stake there, but it wasn’t the whole friggin global economy and financial system.

  • Bruce R. Peterson, Lafayette

    The banks are still being bailed out. They are getting close to interest free loans, from the fed. Obviously it is going into the stock market. Where else? The high unemployment rate, is the only thing keeping inflation in check. For now. Student debt is staggering. So is the debt of most city, county & state governments. Plus school districts. Then there is all of the unfunded pension liabilities. The only way they can be met, is with high inflation. Maybe the minimum wage will go to $30 an hour. That will keep Social Security afloat for my lifetime..

  • JohnW


    Monetizing the debt works for paying off China. Shhh! Don’t tell them the secret plan. However, it doesn’t really work for Social Security and pensions, because those benefits rise along with inflation.

  • James B.

    @#4 Here’s film of RFK’s speech in Indianapolis on the night that Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated in 1968:

    I agree with John W. That speech must be considered among the greatest political speeches in American history. RFK apparently delivered it without notes. It must’ve been a risky speech as how the crowd would react could not be predicted easily. A portion of the speech is carved into his memorial at Arlington National Cemetery.

  • For Liberty

    Edward Snowden: the whistleblower behind the NSA surveillance revelations states that his fear is “that it’s only going to get worse”.


  • JohnW


    Everybody is a civil liberties purest until they receive their first Presidential Daily Briefing.

    It will be interesting to see how this story develops. 29 year old who boot-straps himself from a community college computer tech education through a series of jobs into a sensitive assignment with a national security contractor in Hawaii, supposedly paying $200k. He and his girlfriend clear out their home and disappear in the dark of night, only to show up in China. Then, he does his deed. Seems like this might be a bit more complicated than just a guy with a conscience.

  • RR senile columnist

    Snowden may have dated Bradley Manning

  • For Liberty

    @ 21:

    I would say this story will develop far beyond George Orwell’s imagination!

  • JohnW

    Glenn Greenwald, the Guardian reporter, was interviewed on Morning Joe. He claimed the government was spending “trillions” developing this surveillance technology. Finally, we know the reason for the deficits!

  • RR senile columnist

    “The US gov’t has betrayed and violated all trust and decency,”
    says Gaffuq Yussef, spokesman for the
    ACLU (Arabian Conspiracy -Lovers Union). “We are not just talk We are using green power. We call upon all our supporters to boycott American airline companies. Soon, all the TSA people will be out of work”

  • JohnW

    The NSA is constructing a huge data farm a/k/a Utah Data Center at the Camp Williams National Guard center outside Bluffdale.

    Supposedly, they will have storage capacity measured in Yottabytes. That’s a yotta bytes. 1 yottabyte = 1 trillion terabytes = 1 quadrillion gigabytes.

    I’ve never criticized either Bush or Obama for the electronic surveillance activity. Unfortunately, it’s necessary. But, wow, it’s amazing that 19 guys with box cutters started all this!

  • MichaelB


    I won’t take your word for it.

    The mainstream media/educational institutions are dominated by the left wing and are in the tank for Obama/the Democratic Party. How many self described conservatives are university professors? It should be no surprise that people (especially younger voters) think the GOP is “racist”, “greedy”, “steals from the poor”, etc.

    Republicans, regardless of the candidate running, would have their hands full trying to overcome it. Especially when Democrats promise free stuff/amnesty for illegals as “rights” they claim Republicans will try to take away and/or “give to the rich”.

    It didn’t take long for the mainstream media (so called “professional jouranlists”) to accuse people of being “racist” for even questioning Obama’s lack of experience/out of touch voting record/far left associations in 2008. No conservative with a Jeremiah Wright type association would ever survive as a candidate for higher office. Obama gave a supposed “historic” speech claiming he “heard nothing for 20 years” and skated.

    And you “heart” Barack despite the long list of broken campaign promises about “transparency”, “fiscal responsibility”, etc., poor economic growth, millions more people out of work/on public assistance programs and trillions added to the national debt. Go figure. Is everything still Bush’s fault?

  • JohnW


    Though tempted, I won’t rebut every point. But I will comment on that report from the College Republicans group.

    There is not a week goes by that some GOP member of Congress, state party chairman or a conservative radio talk show host doesn’t make some stupid comment to justify the perceptions revealed in the study. Romney lost the popular count by 5 million votes. The only reason he came even that close was that he won among the high turnout age 65+ group 54-38% and among whites 59-37%. You can argue all you want about whether the perceptions are unfair. But perceptions become votes. The problem with that white 65+ group (of which I am a member) is that we are shrinking both in numbers and as a share of the electorate.

    It used to be that both major parties were big tent parties that pieced together victories with coalitions. They were defined by those coalitions, not by ideology. At the GOP national convention, Romney fought for a strong civil rights plank in the party platform. He also argued for a statement condemning extremism on both the left and right. Both proposals were overwhelmingly defeated. Of course, that was George Romney in 1964. That’s the way it’s been for the GOP ever since.

  • MichaelB


    And there is not a week gone by where a “progressive” makes some stupid comment that the “economy is recovering” or “things are getting better” when it’s double digit unemployment if you add those out of work with those who have stopped looking and compare labor participation rates to years past. Or Obama’s recent remarks – browbeating employers/business owners to pay their employees more money/give them a raise to “increase their prosperity”. What an embarrassment. Talk about being clueless as to how a business/the economy operates.

    Good luck finding a mainstream media outlet that will cover/ask questions about/criticize this. You can be sure Bush would have been blamed for current unemployment levels, high fuel prices, levels of national debt, etc.

    The Democratic Party is controlled by the far left. Self described moderates/conservatives far outnumber them. Why did Obama have to fake being a “moderate”/not admit what he really stood for to get elected?