04/18/2014 10:05 am ET Updated Jun 17, 2014

President Obama's News Conference

On a sunny Thursday afternoon, President Obama had one of his rare, unscheduled news conferences. It was his first solo one since December, although he held several with other leaders on his latest trip to Europe and Saudi Arabia. The president gives speeches -- not concise answers. He called on only five reporters in 70 minutes. They were not the "usual suspects," and did not appear to be surprised by the presidential nod. Gone is the electricity, excitement, and competition of past presidents and their interaction with the press. This is a White House which knows how to manage its tormentors!

President Obama began the April 17 news conference by expressing condolences to South Korea for the tragic ferry boat accident, in which so many young people died. The U.S. is trying to help search for victims.

Then the president touted the Affordable Care Act, which he wanted to make the center piece of his news appearance in the White House press room. He said 8 million have now applied for the coverage and 35 percent are under the crucial age of 35. He blasted Republicans who still want to repeal Obamacare, saying "this thing is working," and "it should not become a political football."

The president answered one question on immigration reform, claiming there is bipartisan support.

Then he answered some questions on the crises with Russia and the Ukraine. He expressed hope it can be resolved diplomatically, but threatened more sanctions if it escalates. The president was not asked about a chilling development; reports claim some Jews in Ukraine were asked to fill out identification papers about their religious views and their property holdings! Nor was the president asked about hate crimes and recent violence in this country. But, only five people were permitted to ask questions.