Thursday, February 19, 2009

Semi-live blog of the press conference...

Afghanistan question leads off, good. Canada reconsidering 2011? Obama gracious in saving Harper here, tells us he didn't press Harper on extension. Harper seemed nervous at first but manages to get his bearings, it's a parliamentary framework we're working in, yes sir, that is correct.

French question on environment second up...harmonization on greenhouse gases when your approaches are different on tar sands? Beyond technological solutions, how can you reconcile when Cda refuses to have hard caps? Harper: US have just started their decision making, repeats his shrinking position as articulated in the Globe report linked to earlier today, that Canada has struggled as a result, alone in the absence of the U.S. Insisting approaches are similar, just different ways of measuring the same thing, he says. Huh? That's a nice bit of baffle gab that should provide plenty of discussion out of this. This "dialogue on green energy" is a nice cover they've achieved but the questioner was getting at the heart of the issue. What does that mean for GHG targets?

Obama brings the leadership: it's a world-wide issue we're going to have to confront. Good. See how easy that was, Mr. Harper? Says "dialogue" is a good beginning. Oil sands here, coal in U.S. Showing leadership in the hemisphere...when does Mr. Harper ever say things like this? It's just missing from Mr. Harper. Must say, however, that the tone from Obama is genuine but as for the hard caps/intensity target difference in specifics. Not surprised, that will come.

WSJ presses Obama on re-opening NAFTA, conflicting signals of late. Oh WSJ, why must you be such a downer? Trade beneficial...again states labour and environment side agreements needing to be incorporated into main agreement. He raised this with Harper...Obama voluntarily brings up "buy American" provisions, reiterates international agreements to be abided by. Harper chimes in...gets all "I'm an economist" here on provisions in trade agreement provisions...the "synchronized global recession" talking point rears its head. Harper goes on much too long for this blogger's comfort. It's not about you today, pls step back.

Jennifer Ditchburn brings the mirth! Obama laughs as a result of her question, makes joke. Ditchburn much preferable choice than Bob Fife (I was happily wrong here, shows press pool ruled, not PMO, CP the rightful questioner). But asks unfocussed multi-part question. Does manage, however to elicit a great line from Obama, perhaps one of the biggest of the press conference. He loves this country. Yowza. Honestly, that has clouded my focus on the rest of his response. Now Harper up...Chuck Todd is sleeping? Makes a pointed plea to Americans: "Threats to the United States are threats to Canada", we are separate countries with unique interests, don't be mind-melding us there, Mr. Harper. Point on border a good one to make, from Harper, but he overdid IMHO. No reciprocal depth of sentiment from Harper, unfortunately.

Overall, questions solid but this event was definitely not long enough.

A few minutes Obama departs, the screams/cheers ensue. No need to make the obvious point here...:)