I think that it is vital Barack Obama have a continuous conversation with the American public over the next many months. The radio chats by FDR in 1933 were very important during the Great Depression, and Obama can take a lesson from that time as he enters office with another economic calamity bearing down on the nation. The public is mighty concerned about the state of the economy, and will want to understand what the government is doing to start the process of correcting the situation. It is important that Obama make strides to use his communication skills to remove fears among the electorate about the future.
One way for Obama to connect with the public, and address the needs of the press, is to hold press conferences. I have long chided Presidents who fear the press, and who can’t handle random questions. But since Obama is an effective communicator I am pleased his aides are already putting him in front of the press often. So far they have done so at a record pace. (BTW, this is the type of trivia that makes politics so much fun.)
“Obama beats record for press conferences: In the 22 days since winning the White House, President-elect Barack Obama has taken 22 questions from reporters and has done two sit-down television interviews. The Democrat held his fourth press conference since Nov. 4 in Chicago Wednesday morning — his third in as many days — an unprecedented bit of access for reporters who have grown accustomed to President Bush’s infrequent moments taking questions and already surpassing the last four presidents-in-waiting. Mr. Obama has beat his four predecessors in number of post-election, pre-inauguration press conferences, and is inheriting a troubled nation. With one Cabinet post officially named, he is working at a faster clip than former President Bill Clinton.
“In 2000, Mr. Bush gave one press conference as president-elect, and not until Dec. 19, because the results of his victory over Vice President Al Gore were so long in dispute. As president-elect in 1992, Mr. Clinton held three pre-inauguration press conferences. George H.W. Bush held one press conference as president-elect, on Nov. 11, 1988. Ronald Reagan also held one press conference before his 1981 inauguration. He called the major press conference to trot out his Cabinet nominees, but didn’t show up himself.