Supplemental: Obama encounters the real JV team!


They're known as the national press corps:
We haven't yet watched the full videotape of Obama's press conference in Turkey.

That said, we've heard a lot about it. The caterwauling about Obama's tone has been general on Morning Joe, where the caterwaulin' tends to be good. Meanwhile, we'd heard remarks about the repetitive nature of the press corps' questions.

To watch the full presser, click here.

Today, we took a look at the transcript of the presser. We also watched the videotape of the journalists asking their questions. We thought it was worth recording the questions, which actually were quite repetitive.

Question 1 was basically reasonable, if a bit odd in context. It came from Jerome Cartillier, a reporter from Agence France Presse:
QUESTION ONE (11/16/15): Thank you, Mr. President. One hundred and twenty-nine people were killed in Paris on Friday night. ISIL claimed responsibility for the massacre, sending the message that they could now target civilians all over the world. The equation has clearly changed. Isn't it time for your strategy to change?
"Isn't it time for your strategy to change?" In his opening statement, Obama had already spent eight minutes speaking to that very question.

"We have the right strategy and we’re going to see it through." Those were Obama's very last words before he called on Cartillier!

Whatever! Obama went on for seven more minutes, repeating the things he'd already said. He then threw to Margaret Brennan, she of CBS News:
QUESTION TWO: Thank you, Mr. President. A more than year-long bombing campaign in Iraq and in Syria has failed to contain the ambition and the ability of ISIS to launch attacks in the West. Have you underestimated their abilities? And will you widen the rules of engagement for U.S. forces to take more aggressive action?
Brennan came dangerously close to asking if Obama was going to change the strategy. As for Questions 3 and 4, we think they went something like this:
QUESTION THREE: Thank you, Mr. President. In the days and weeks before the Paris attacks, did you receive warning in your daily intelligence briefing that an attack was imminent? If not, does that not call into question the current assessment that there is no immediate, specific, credible threat to the United States today? And secondly, if I could ask you to address your critics who say that your reluctance to enter another Middle East war, and your preference of diplomacy over using the military, makes the United States weaker and emboldens our enemies.


QUESTION FOUR: Thank you very much, Mr. President. I wanted to go back to something that you said to Margaret earlier when you said that you have not underestimated ISIS’s abilities. This is an organization that you once described as a JV team that evolved into a force that has now occupied territory in Iraq and Syria and is now able to use that safe haven to launch attacks in other parts of the world. How is that not underestimating their capabilities? And how is that contained, quite frankly? And I think a lot of Americans have this frustration that they see that the United States has the greatest military in the world, it has the backing of nearly every other country in the world when it comes to taking on ISIS. I guess the question is—and if you’ll forgive the language—is, Why can't we take out these bastards?
"Why can't we take out these bastards?" Pitifully, that was tough-talking Jim Acosta, embarrassing CNN while asking why Obama doesn't change his strategy.

Question 3, from ABC's Jim Avila, at least contained a specific new element. Avila asked Obama to assess our intelligence capabilities regarding such attacks.

After that, Avila basically asked the same question again: Doesn't the attack in Paris mean you should change what you're doing?

Briefly, we'll offer a comment. Everyone has always known, and has always said, that there is no foolproof way to forestall attacks of the type which hit Paris. Everyone has always said that such attacks can, and almost certainly will, occur somewhere at some point.

Last week, one such attack did occur, and the reporters all wanted to know if that means that Obama needs to change his strategy. No matter how many times Obama answered the question, they all wanted to ask it again.

By the time the straight-shooting Acosta dropped his B-bomb, Obama was getting annoyed.

"Well, Jim, I just spent the last three questions answering that very question," Obama said to the highly authentic star, "so I don't know what more you want me to add. I think I've described very specifically what our strategy is, and I've described very specifically why we do not pursue some of the other strategies that have been suggested."

Briefly, Obama semi-answered the question again. Then, he threw to NBC's Ron Allen:
QUESTION FIVE: Thank you, Mr. President. I think a lot of people around the world and in America are concerned because given the strategy that you’re pursuing, and it’s been more than a year now, ISIS’s capabilities seem to be expanding. Were you aware that they had the capability of pulling off the kind of attack that they did in Paris? Are you concerned? And do you think they have that same capability to strike in the United States? And do you think that given all you’ve learned about ISIS over the past year or so, and given all the criticism about your underestimating them, do you think you really understand this enemy well enough to defeat them and to protect the homeland?
"All right, so this is another variation on the same question," Obama wearily said. "And I guess—let me try it one last time."

Strictly speaking, those ace reporters didn't all ask exactly the same question. That said, they came remarkably close. It was a bit like the old Mo Udall quip about useless, never-ending congressional hearings:

"Everything has already been said. But not everyone has said it."

It's amazing that Acosta hasn't come in for more criticism for his grandstanding tough-talk. It's bad enough when pols posture that way. As Dan Rather once asked Dick Nixon: Is Acosta now running for office?

Even for these scripted life-forms, it's also a bit amazing to see that much repetition. Are they all just creating videotape for their own network's programs? Is it as simple as that?

On Morning Joe, the hirelings have been very upset with Obama's tone at that conference. As they count their salaries from Trump, they've been refusing to describe the world as it actually is.

"Obama has met the real JV team," they should say. "And it turned out to be us."


  1. Yes, as Bob points out, Obama had already answered the question of whether he would change strategy. I think all the repetitive versions that Bob noted weren't really questions. The reporters were saying, in effect, that they don't think Obama's strategy is working. Given his clueless claim the morning of the Paris attack that ISIS is contained, there's little wonder that they would doubt Obama's strategy.

    1. Remember, the president is much smarter than and far, far better informed than you.

    2. "Given his clueless claim the morning of the Paris attack that ISIS is contained ...."

      Cite please, and not some Townhall bullshit.

      Here's what he said VERBATIM on November 13:

    3. Of course ISIS is contained, in fact the area they occupy is shrinking by the day.

      But yeah, let's panic and change a working strategy in reaction to a terrorist attack. In other words do exactly what ISIS expects us to do. Good plan.

    4. I'm Mick Jagger.

  2. Soapy -- google is your friend. See, e.g.,

    Fact Checkers Confirm That What President Obama Said About ISIL Being Contained Is True

    As I said, Obama made this statement in the morning, before the Paris attacks had taken place. Still, it's obvious that ISIS isn't contained. One would hope that the President of the United States has a better understanding of the situation than some ordinary citizen. But, that seems not to be the case.

    P.S. It's noteworthy that you were unaware of Obama's gaffe. This is worse than Bush's "Mission Accomplished" gaffe, because the words were actually out of the President's mouth, not just on a banner. Apparently the mainstream media haven't covered Obama's foolish comment that much. That's an example of the media bias that we conservatives complain about.

    1. It's noteworthy that you didn't read the entire article or Sarah Jones' preceding article, which guts the Goodwin/Daily Beast misrepresentation of President Obama's ABC interview. Apparently , context to you means receiving a text message from Ben Carson.

      “I don’t think they’re gaining strength. From the start our goal has been first to contain, and we have contained them. They have not gained ground in Iraq. And in Syria it — they’ll come in, they’ll leave,” Obama said in rebuttal to the criticism that he needs more on the ground in Syria. “But you don’t see this systematic march by ISIL across the terrain.”

      But here President Obama says how difficult it’s going to be to take them out, and that we have not done this yet (my bold), “What we have not yet been able to do is to completely decapitate their command and control structures.”

      “We’ve made some progress in trying to reduce the flow of foreign fighters,” Obama said. “Part of our goal has to be to recruit more effective Sunni partners in Iraq to really go on offense rather than simply engage in defense.”

      As for your Google mocking, you can stick it where the sun don't shine, beancounter.

    2. Soapy -- you can parse Obama's statement in some Clintonian way. But, Obama's comment pretty much said we're winning against ISIS. The facts pretty much say we're not winning.

      Even if you parse Obama's "containment", it's not really true. How does he know ISIS is contained geographically? Would you be shocked if ISIS showed power in some additional area next month? I wouldn't.

      Bush tried to parse his "Mission Accomplished" sign. He or his people said it applied to a particular mission, not to the entire war. His parsing didn't work either.

    3. "we're pretty much winning with ISIS..."

      Actually, President Obama clearly never "pretty much" said anything of the sort.

      Last week, the Kurds - with heavy US bombing - took a town from ISIS on the main road between Raqqa and Mosul. The coalition bombed the shit out of ISIS' main oilfield. Jahadi John was reportedly killed due to a coalition surgical strike. ISIS had not advanced anywhere in Iraq. In short, it was a bad week for ISIS and it is a reasonable possibility that the Paris attack was a consequence of setbacks in the mideast.

      That's what the President was referring to - not as your favorite president was fond of saying - "we got em on the run." It's not a matter of parsing anything. You are simply doing what you do best - you make shit up.

      Once you get a Rush-Breitbart meme you run with it. That's what you wingnut trolls do. You deserve to be mocked because in order to be reasoned with, you have to to be somewhat grounded in reality, and you and your fellow travelers aren't.

    4. Soapy is right.

      The U.S. is working with Kurdish and Yazidi forces, backed by U.S. air power, to contain, then degrade ISIL.

      So far, the Kurds have run ISIS out of Kobani, captured most of the Turkish-Syrian border, and moved to within 30 miles of Raqqa, the ISIS capital. Last week, the Yazidis and Kurds recaptured Sinjar in Iraq and cut the highway between Mosul and Raqqa.

      The ISIL attacks likely reflect either revenge for those set backs, or an attempt to reinvigorate their brand (in the eyes of potential recruits) after their latest loses. It no way reflects that they are not contained within a shrinking area of Iraq/Syria.

      I know you'd prefer the "bring it on," "axis of evil," flight suit wearing, enranged gorilla antics of post 9/11 Bush. But those reactions cost the US trillions of dollars, thousands of lives and lead directly to the formation of ISIS. Let's learn something and be smart this time.

    5. "I know you'd prefer the "bring it on," "axis of evil," flight suit wearing, enranged gorilla antics of post 9/11 Bush."

      Don't forget the codpiece. The smirking chimp definitely needed that codpiece.

    6. mm, this is 8:58 (i need to come up with a name!). You're a strong Hillary supporter, i'm not for the very reason that she's of the same bogus macho ilk as President cod piece.

      Her "we came, we saw, he died" joke after the idiotic decision to assist in the overthrow and murder of Ghaddafi was sickening from anyone, coming from our chief diplomat, it was unconscionable. It was also a disastrous decision, leading directly to the current chaos in Libya.

      Did she learn anything from this? Apparently not as she defended that choice (assisting in his overthrow) during a recent debate, using some Jeb level dissembling.

      Recently she came out supporting a no-fly zone in Syria, another stupid idea that so far Obama has resisted.

      For this reason I won't vote for Hillary next Nov, unless she really changes her tune. But i'm in NY so it won't matter anyway if that makes you feel better.

  3. Sounds to me like the press Bob calls JV in this instance did what he asked the moderators at CNBC to do in the Republican debate. And it sounds like the President has been writing twitter feeds to Uncle Drum.

    1. Then you don't understand, or don't want to understand, "what Somerby asked the moderators at CNBC to do in the Republican debate." It wasn't this.

    2. A fact-based approach, one that doesn't consist of foolishly removing one word ("contained") from context and pretending that you're asking something significant, revealing something material about your target's understanding of the situation.

    3. I understand what Bob wanted from the moderators regardless of whether 9:05 or 9:48 have a clue. Sounds like they narrowed their focus and kept at it. I have no idea what the President's response was because Bob didn't feel like it merited restating.

    4. His answers were the same - he was not planning on invading Syria.

    5. Dave the Guitar PlayerNovember 19, 2015 at 1:48 PM

      Bob is not a news source. If you want to know what the President said, go to a reliable news source. Bob is criticizing the people in the news media for the quality of their questions. They narrowed their focus and kept asking the same question, which (to Bob) ended up with the same answer, which (to Bob) answered their question the first time. If you are saying that the President did not answer the question, then just say that, and comment on why you think so.

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