Inside the Beltway: The answer-free White House continues

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The answer-free White House continues: President Obama now has gone eight weeks without holding a formal press conference. Maybe it’s because he’s just too busy on the campaign trail. Maybe it’s because voters are paying close attention.

Gallup finds, for instance, that 36 percent of Americans approve of the president’s work on the economy. The Republican National Committee is particularly vexed that Mr. Obama had time to sit down with ESPN and “Entertainment Tonight” this week, but not those journalists who cover red-meat policy issues.

The last time the president answered “tough questions,” the committee points out, the Supreme Court had yet to even rule on Obamacare and U.S. Attorney General Eric H. Holder Jr. had not been held in contempt of Congress. Yeah, well.

The committee also reminds Mr. Obama that the last time he faced the press corps, “Missy Franklin had zero Olympic medals,” the Mars rover had not landed and Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes were still together. Curious about the exact date here? Mr. Obama’s last took questions from journalists on June 8. His last formal press conference was March 6.

THE SHORT TAKE

“Apparently I’m supposed to be more concerned with what Mitt Romney does with his money than what Barack Obama does with mine.”

“Learn the Three R’s: Romney, Ryan, Republican”

(New T-shirt slogans from Cafe Press.com)

‘SCANT EVIDENCE’

Consider that on two recent days, President Obama’s re-election campaign scheduled 131 field events to register new voters. Is it working for him? Uh, maybe not. A new Boston Globe analysis of voter-registration data in critical swing states reveals “scant evidence that the massive undertaking is yielding much fresh support for Obama,” says senior political writer Brian Mooney.

“In stark contrast to 2008, when a strong partisan tailwind propelled Democratic voter registration to record levels, this year Republican and independent gains are far outpacing those of Democrats,” he adds.

And the numbers: In Florida, Iowa, North Carolina, Colorado, and Nevada, Democratic voter rolls increased by only 39,580, less than one-tenth the amount at the comparable point in the 2008 election. At the same time, GOP registration jumped by 145,085, or more than double for the same time four years ago. Independent registration has shown an even stronger surge, to 229,500, almost three times the number at this point in 2008.

ACCOUNTABLE MEDIA

As president, Mitt Romney would jettison newfangled health care. That we know. But he is also not keen on other expensive programs; namely, the Amtrak subsidy, the PBS subsidy, the subsidy for the National Endowment for the Arts and the National Endowment for the Humanities. “Some of these things, like those endowment efforts and PBS I very much appreciate and like what they do in many cases, but I just think they have to stand on their own rather than receiving money borrowed from other countries, as our government does on their behalf,” Mr. Romney tells Fortune magazine.

The Corporation for Public Broadcasting, parent company of PBS, received $458.5 million in federal appropriations for fiscal year 2012, incidentally. Big Hollywood.com columnist William Bigelow points out that vice presidential hopeful Rep. Paul Ryan opposed restoring $100 million in cuts to NPR seven years go; in March 2011, he voted in favor of defunding it entirely.

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