The president opened with remarks about the flu, the economy and the hard work his administration is doing. Then the questions began.
Question No. 1 was on the flu. The president said the government is doing everything it can and the Mexican border does not need to be closed at this point.
Question No. 2: What about the auto industry? The president said he is hopeful. His goal is to get out of the auto business.
Question No. 3: Is waterboarding torture? The president said yes, it is, and pointed to Winston Churchill in Great Britain as a country that refused to torture.
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
BARACK OBAMA, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Churchill understood you start taking shortcuts, and over time, that corrodes what's best in the people. It corrodes the character of a country.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, just one problem with that answer, Mr. President, with all due respect here. I'm not trying to nitpick. The British government uses very, very rough techniques on captured terrorists. Ask the IRA. And the SAS is an extremely feared force all over the world. I don't want to Monday morning quarterback, but maybe Britain was not the best example.
Question No. 4: Did waterboarding save American lives? The president would not say directly, even though he says he has read the memos Dick Cheney called for. But the president called rough interrogation, as you heard, a quick shortcut that he will not take.
Question No. 5: What about Pakistan with the Taliban threat? The president said he is confident that nukes will not fall into the hands of terrorists.
Question No. 6: What about Iraq? The president said there is serious work to do.
Question No. 7: What about Arlen Specter and possible one-party rule by the Democrats? The president said he thinks highly of Arlen Specter.
Question No. 8: What about abortion?
(BEGIN VIDEO CLIP)
ED HENRY, CNN: At one point in the campaign when asked about abortion and life you said that it was "above my pay grade." Now that you've been president for 100 days, obviously, your pay grade is a little higher than when you were senator. Do you still hope that Congress quickly sends you the Freedom of Choice Act so you can sign it?
OBAMA: You know, the — my view on abortion, I think, has been very consistent. I think abortion is a moral issue and an ethical issue.
(END VIDEO CLIP)
Well, with all due respect, Mr. President, that's obvious. The question is will you push for the Freedom of Choice Act? The president did not directly answer the question.
Question No. 9: Has anything surprised him in the first 100 days? That was a softball question. The president said he's proud of his kids for handling the transition, and that there are so many things in play at one time, it is mind-boggling. He's also grateful to the military and humbled by the office and the challenge.
Finally, question No. 10: What about immigration reform? The president says he's going to work hard to get that accomplished.
Now there were three other questions, 13, just like the last press conference, but you have got the major points.
And that's "The Memo."
Pinheads & Patriots
Thirty-seven-year-old actress Christina Applegate is on the cover of People magazine's "100 Most Beautiful People" edition. The breast cancer survivor recently waged a very public battle against the disease, which resulted in her having a double mastectomy. She is now promoting early testing and detection, so we believe Ms. Applegate is a patriot.
On the pinhead front, check out this surveillance video of San Antonio bus driver Adrian Perez, texting while carrying two disabled passengers on a city-owned bus. The guy was so busy on the phone that he didn't notice — watch it! Whoa, Adrian. Yo, Adrian, all right?
Now, Perez crashed at full speed. Fortunately, nobody was seriously injured, but come on. Perez was fired because, as everybody knows, pinheads should not be driving anyone around.