Main takeaways from today's presser: (summary of his responses with reaction underneath):
1. Obama was going to ask for a reform of the secret programs before Snowden ever showed up, so Snowden is no hero. Obama is the hero. He himself wanted reform and heck, he might even have leaked the program himself had more time elapsed.
Of course this is impossible to prove, which is why it was used. It's also complete and total BS. The guy ran on bashing Bush's trashing of the constitution and secret programs--that's where 'transparency' came from. He was going to be different. But he found some of the Bush programs useful after all. And he was going to tell everyone if not for Snowden. Except he was never going to divulge his continuation of any of those Bush programs, ever. The assertion that he asked for this in his speech at the NDU speech in May is preposterous and should be vigorously fact-checked by the press.
2. Snowden didn't solely affect the decision to cancel the one-on-one with Putey Poot. Heck, they might have canceled anyway without him due to all kinds of things (forget about that reset, Putin messed it up).
Could comment, but Condi Rice--a Russian expert--is a lot more clear-eyed and authoritative on it.
3. Benghazi culprits not caught yet? Don't worry, I got bin Laden but it took more than 11 months.
At least somebody asked. Of course bin Laden was one man without forces surrounding him; these Benghazi jihadies were likely part of the overall AQ non-Core network (despite taking phone calls and orders from Zawahiri) so there are likely hundreds or even thousands involved, ie, it might take military action. Indicting and even capturing one guy isn't going to be'justice'. It's also interesting that CNN's correspondent didn't bother to ask about their own bombshell story involving the massive CIA participation at Benghazi, but such is life in DC when careers and book deals are on the line versus asking the tough questions.
4. AQ 'decimated' with 22 embassies closed? Yes, Core AQ is still decimated but the others are still dangerous, which we've said all along.
Well yes they might say it, but not prominently. It's not like Biden yelled at the convention, "Osama bin Laden is dead, except for some very dangerous affiliate branches who are still pulling off attacks and might cause us to close embassies and issue travel advisories, and GM is alive!!! Doesn't have the same ring.
But let's take a second to expose this giant red herring known as 'Core AQ'. They've singled out AfPak so they can show progress and remove the troops but it's really meaningless. Bin Laden, Zawahiri and a few hundred jihadies scattered into Pakistan after Bush blasted out the Taliban in 2001. Zawahiri's original group, Egyptian Islamic Jihad, merged into AQ before 9/11 but guess what, they were based in Egypt. Several "top lieutenants" of EIJ are still at large. Other AQ affiliates, such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, or LIFG, were around on 9/11--their early leader Belhadg is now a Libyan government official (with a possible tie-in to Benghazi). Of course KSM and his nephew Yousef were basically lone wolf contractors for AQ who did a lot of damage without an army. So please with this core AQ stuff.
5. Republicans don't want 30 million people to have health care.
There are no words available to destroy this strawman. He should have said they want dirty air and dirty water too, and dead puppies.
Clearly the president tried to use this presser mainly to diminish Snowden, both as an important leaker and someone who impeded our diplomacy with Russia. He didn't want it to seem like Snowden, just some hacker, took out an important one-on-one meeting or spurred a debate on NSA spying. Not sure he succeeded. Putin certainly won't buy it nor will any Libertarian.
And the press corpse? Some improvement but still lacking. No questions on IRS, the AP phone logging, Rosen, the Yemeni leaker, the leaker of this information on Zawahiri's phone call, and far too many softball setup questions that allow the president to filibuster for minutes about punishing his enemies (not the terrorists) while getting all his talking points in. Pretty much same ole same old.
Wasn't one of the biggest takeaways that Bush was right? Not one reporter made the point, but Obama in discussing the secret programs (and his former press sec Gibbs on MSNBC tonight) tacitly admitted that things looked different once they got read-in to the amount of threat reportings a president is privy to see. Something O kept quiet while he was hammering Bush on torture and the economy.
Also, there really wasn't a lot about the current threat we are supposedly under. Jon Karl from ABC asked about the dronings in Yemen but the president cut that off; someone could have asked what it will take to come out of the embassy closings (which is being done this weekend). But they didn't. Still thinking there might be something big we haven't been told they are holding onto, which might have become more evident had someone forced a curt reply or some kind of facial gesture.