Power Play

Phony? Baloney.

Obama holds a press conference before leaving town, the latest on terrorist threats abroad, and does Congress deserve a vacation?


“President Obama said we've all been distracted by phony scandals, and it's time we started getting distracted by the phony recovery.”

-- Jay Leno on “The Tonight Show,” July 26.

President Obama hasn’t faced reporters in a solo press conference since April, and what a busy hundred days he’s had since then.

After multiple efforts to change the discussion away from scandals and controversies that have marred the start of his second term, Obama is still facing plenty of unanswered questions about his expansion of domestic surveillance programs, abuses at the IRS and Department of Justice, and doctored talking points about an Islamist raid on a U.S. outpost in Benghazi, Libya.

FOX News pollsters inquired about the president’s “phony scandals” and found that voters disagree in great numbers.

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On the snooping by Justice Department lawyers into reporter records? 59 percent say it’s a “serious situation.” The same portion thought targeting of political groups by the IRS was serious. On recent revelations about Obama’s expansions of domestic surveillance? 69 percent disagree with the president. On the Islamist raid on the Benghazi outpost and subsequent changes to official talking points? 78 percent say it’s for real.

Obama’s effort to dismiss and diminish those concerns as “phony scandals” having failed, the president is in for a rough time (at least by his standards).

It’s no wonder, then, that the president has picked a Friday afternoon in August just ahead of his vacation to meet the press. Even considering the “members bounce” Obama gets around the green with the press corps, there’s going to be lots of difficult subjects to discuss. The plan here is to get Obama on the record and then off to Martha’s Vineyard and to do so at a moment when much of Official Washington is gone. Call this a Herb Tarlek press conference: It’s a turkey drop.


Aside from going on the record about new revelations about the scandals, like where he was during the Benghazi raid, Obama will have other pressing controversies to address.

What about the growing list of logistical problems for the president’s signature health care law?

Obamacare remains ultra unpopular. The latest FOX News poll shows majorities of voters believe the law will increase their taxes (71 percent), their insurance costs (62 percent) and federal deficits (65 percent), while saying by a 2-to-1 margin that the law will decrease the quality of their own health care.

Or the deadlocked negotiations with Republicans in Congress to avert a government shutdown?

While the establishment press has been gorging itself on stories about Republican divisions over how to block spending increases and delay or defund Obama’s health law, the Democrats haven’t enunciated much on the subject other than some muted support for the president’s call for increased taxes and spending, an impossibility on par with the immediate excision of Obamacare.

Some reporters will surely oblige the president by asking about his thoughts and feelings about his standoff with Russian President Vladimir Putin over Putin’s protection of the government contractor who exposed Obama’s spy programs. But there’s too much to talk about in the realms the president wants to avoid for him to filibuster his way through.

The best hope for the White House is that much of what he says gets swallowed up by the August news sinkhole.

And Now, A Word From Charles

“I may be willing to sacrifice a little of my privacy to prevent a 9/11 that killed 3,000 people. But to contribute to a drug war that we are losing anyway is a problematic endeavor in the first place and is deeply corrupt and is not something I would want to do.”

Charles Krauthammer on “Special Report with Bret Baier.”


Chris Stirewalt is digital politics editor for Fox News, and his POWER PLAY column appears Monday-Friday on FoxNews.com. Catch Chris Live online daily at 11:30amET  at  http:live.foxnews.com.

Chris Stirewalt joined Fox News Channel (FNC) in July of 2010 and serves as politics editor based in Washington, D.C.