IF YOU READ ONLY ONE LONG TRANSCRIPT FROM THE PRESIDENT TODAY, READ THIS ONE.

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I don't think press conferences are terribly useful mediums. The assembled reporters haven't settled on a theory of what they're trying to accomplish. Some, like Ed Henry with his question on abortion, are looking to elicit a moment of spontaneous embarrassment or a flash of unexpected controversy. Some, like Andre Showell and his question on unemployment in black communities, try to air issues that don't normally command presidential attention. Some, like Jeff Zeleny and his request for Obama to recall a moment of "enchantment," want the flash of humanity that leavens the processions of policy details. Some, to paraphrase Armageddon Now, don't exhibit any method at all.

But it's all happening at once. Reporters choose from a dozen theories of questioning and a nearly infinite number of topics. You get the occasional moment of insight, but it's generally an accidental thing, akin to pulling a book from a wall and finding you've opened the Bat Cave. So though the transcript to the press conference is now floating around the interwebs, I'd urge you to read David Leonhardt's long interview with Obama instead. It does one thing, and choose a couple topics, and so you get an actual sense of Obama's thinking on a series of important issues. I'll be quoting a couple pieces from it as the day goes on, but its really worth reading in full.

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