There are many quadrennial rites of occasion -- the Olympics, the World Cup, the, er... [C'mon, you need one more!!--ed.] the Quadrennial Defense Review [Nice save!--ed.]. And, of course, the first post-inauguration press conference. Your humble blogger will be covering it live by updating this post quite frequently.
8:00 PM: I'll be watching this on CNN, in the hopes that Anderson Cooper will ask a question via hologram.
8:05 PM: The key economic statement of the opening statement: "The federal goverment is the only entity left with the resources that that can jolt this economy into life."
8:08 PM: Good initial response to the AP question, referencing the Japan recession. Of course, the repeated efforts at fiscal stimulus in that country didn't work terribly well. And he went on way too long.
8:14 PM: At this rate, Obama will answer less than ten questions at this press conference.
8:16 PM: Just realized that the press conference will pre-empt the criminally underrated How I Met Your Mother. Suddenly feeling that Obama is part of the problem, not part of the solution.
8:20 PM: Non-answer on Iran, until the very end, when he mentions that Iran has both rights and responsibilities as a member of the international community. This could be a clever way of signaling that the U.S. is prepared to recognize Iran's right to a nuclear program, so long as Tehran is prepared to accede to safeguards. We'll see how this formulation plays in Iran.
8:30 PM: In response to a good question from Chuck Todd, Obama says, "the party now is over" and that "we have to adapt to new circumstances." I think he's subtly hinting that he wants Todd to leave the building.
8:33 PM: Bloomberg reporter, in her question, says, "Many experts, from Nouriel Roubini to Senator Chuck Schumer..." I fail to hear the rest of the question, as the notion of calling Schumer an "expert" at anything to do with economics causes my head to explode.
8:35 PM: It appears that Obama is asking for questions in a pre-arranged order. Did any president before Bush 43 do this?
8:39 PM: Obama's metrics for economic success: the creation of 4 million jobs, the unfreezing of credit markets, and the stabilization of housing prices. It's gracious of Obama to acknowedge that the federal govenment doesn't have "complete control" over that last category.
8:41 PM: In answer a question on Afghanistan, Obama takes pains to distance himself from Hamid Karzai. Also mentions the actions of the Taliban and Al Qaeda in the region. Obama should really ead my colleague Tom Ricks on this matter.
8:45 PM: Oooohhh, Fox News's first question!! And it's about Joe Biden!! This gives Obama his first real opportunity for an easy laugh in his response.
8:48 PM: A question about A-Rod! I'm mostly glad that Obama's answer was short and did praise MLB's toughening stance on the issue.
8:49 PM: Obama loses his Helen Thomas virginity. Good answer on preventing a nuclear arms race in the Middle East, managing to connect it to arms control with Russia. Thomas, God bless her, tries to keep talking.
8:53 PM: The Huffington Post gets a White House reporter? Who knew?!
8:57 PM: Obama closes with an appeal to pragmatism, but I wonder if there's as much expert consensus on important issues as Obama thinks there is.
9:01 PM: And it's over. I thought all players played their part well, but I would have liked to have seen shorter answers. For all his talk about the stimulus, I actually think his answer on Iran might be the most newsworthy.