SMU Political Science Professor Cal Jillson warns that President Obama must be cautious in using his wit in these troubled times, saying 'he's got to be careful that he doesn't appear to be flippant.'

Sheldon Alberts
Washington Correspondent
Canwest News Service

WASHINGTON — When Barack Obama sat down with '60 Minutes' correspondent Steve Kroft for a feature interview that aired Sunday, the consensus view in the White House press corps was that he had just endured the worst week of his young presidency.

His administration had struggled for a consistent response to the AIG bonus controversy - veering from statements of outrage to the admission its own officials were partially responsible for legislation that made the $165 million in payments possible.

Meantime polls were showing public approval for Obama's bank bailout plan had sunk to under 40 per cent, and Republicans had begun demanding his treasury secretary's resignation.

But Obama himself seemed utterly unfazed by the supposed turmoil engulfing his administration.

"I just want to say that the only thing less popular than putting money into banks is putting money into the auto industry," Obama said, laughing in response to Kroft's questions about waning support for his economic recovery plan. . .

"He is a very smart, quick-witted guy, and he's got to be careful that his wit doesn't have too much bite," said Cal Jillson, a politics professor at Southern Methodist University in Dallas.

"I think, fundamentally, Americans love the idea of having a smart, articulate president. It's a change. So people like his obvious intelligence. But he's got to be careful that he doesn't appear to be flippant."

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