Where was the smirk? The pathetic attempts at humor? The wincing and squinting and squirming at tough questions? The tripping over the tongue?
Obama, sporting a dark suit and baby-blue tie, came off so calm, cool, collected and in charge, and telegenic as all get-out. Goodness knows we never got much of that from "The George W. Bush Show," with all of its bad acting, ridiculous scripts and horrendous plots.
With Obama's resonant voice and natural ease in front of cameras and microphones, he could have had a career in broadcasting had he not gone into politics.
Given the flood of bad economic news this morning, Obama opened Friday's newser in what felt like an appropriately somber tone. At first he seemed to be keeping a close eye on his prepared remarks, but he warmed up during the Q&A period. He also knows how to warm up a room full of reporters, paying respect to the local print journos who covered him when. Obama made a point of calling out for a question from Chicago Tribune's John McCormick ("let's give the home town local guy a little bit of time"), and a few moments later asked Chicago Sun-Times columnist Lynn Sweet "what happened to your arm?"
(Those of us watching on TV couldn't see exactly but I'm guessing she had a brace or cast on. From what we could gather it was some kind of injury she got in the crowd at Grant Park on Tuesday night for Obama's victory celebration. As the prez-elected noted, Sweet's injury "was probably the only major incident during the entire Grant Park celebration.")
Sweet asked the sweet question of exactly what kind of dog the Obamas are planning to get for their daughters, as the president-elect noted in his victory speech on Tuesday night. Obama showed a sense of humor by noting that "this is a major issue for the Obamas" and that there are "two criteria that need to be reconciled" in regard to the procurement of the pooch.
Obama warmed the hearts of animal lovers everywhere by saying that the family's preference would be to adopt from an animal shelter, but but they have to be careful about the breed because 10-year-old Malia is allergic to dog hair. At shelters, "a lot of them are mutts like me," he said.
There was a slightly-weird moment when he was asked about the world leaders and dignitaries that he'd spoken with since his win. After saying that he'd spoken to "all the presidents," he quickly clarified to say all "living" presidents. "I didn't want to get into a Nancy Reagan thing about doing any seances."
(Friday evening update: According to the AP, Obama called Nancy Reagan to apologize for the crack. The AP notes that while Reagan was known for consulting astrologists during her tenure as first lady, it was actually Hillary Clinton who was reported to have held seances in the White House.)
On the serious stuff, he sounded all the right notes. We are facing "the greatest economic challenge of our lifetime" after shedding 1.2 million jobs this year alone. "I do not underestimate the enormity of the task that lies ahead."
He told us, with a command of the issues that his soon-to-be-predecessor never had (at least in public), that it's high time for a federal stimulus package, it's time to extend unemployment benefits and it's time for a "middle class rescue package" with a focus on jobs, jobs, jobs. (I know a country with some crumbling infrastructure that could use an old-fashioned Works Progress Administration-type influx.)
My favorite line of the roughly 20-minute sesh, delivered with such conviction: "I'm confident that a new president can have enormous impact" on the economy. "That's why I ran for president."
And that's why we voted for you. Now, how many days is it until the state of the union address?