For a president elected on a platform of hope, Barack Obama sure knows how to throw around the doom and gloom when he wants to rise above the trifles of the Beltway political game.

The president is trying to push an $800 billion-ish economic stimulus package through the Senate, then the Congressional Conference Committee, then to his desk. Republican opposition has been fairly uniform, despite some promising defections on a procedural vote earlier today.

Hence the depressing tones in Obama's first prime-time news conference: people who can't pay their bills; TV ads for food banks; how the country just lost one Maine's worth of jobs; "the worst economic crisis since the Great Depresion;" "problems are accelerating instead of getting better;" and an impromptu line (in a response to a clumsy question from NBC's Chuck Todd) that "the party's now over," a reference to the nation's economy that could just as easily be applied to post-inaugural Washington, DC.

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Then there was the clincher: "I can't afford to see Congress play the usual political games."

Avoiding those games was exactly the point of Obama's press conference — even if exercising such presidential prerogative is, itself, one of the oldest tricks in the book.

Other highlights: Obama fielded a question from Sam Stein of the Huffington Post about criminal charges against former President George W. Bush and from Major Garrett of Fox News about Joe Biden being crazy. The press then scrambled to figure out who is on the new A-list. More here: Obama Presser Ruffles Insecure DC Hacks