Barack Obama may have been the host of a prime-time press conference on Wednesday evening, but it was Treasury Secretary Timothy Geithner who had the best night.
Thirteen questions and four follow-ups were asked during the roughly hour-long affair. Not one touched on the administration's Troubled Asset Relief Program, the trillions being doled out by the Federal Reserve, rising compensation levels at Wall Street firms, or the forthcoming stress tests to determine the solvency of the banks.
The closest thing to a bank or financial-industry question came at the end, when the Wall Street Journalism Jonathan Weisman asked what the government's plans were as the current, largest shareholder of "large mortgage giants and, potentially, "a car company."
All of which is not to suggest that the slate of inquiries were unimpressive. There were, as generally acknowledged by usually critical members of the non-called-upon press corps, some important topics addressed.
But the only instances in which the President discussed the banking industry came when he brought up the topic himself.
"We can't go back to an economy that's built on a pile of sand, on inflated home prices and maxed-out credit cards, on over-leveraged banks and outdated regulations that allow recklessness of a few to threaten the prosperity of all," he declared in his opening remarks.
"You know, I don't want to run auto companies. I don't want to run banks," he responded to Weisman. "If you could tell me right now that, when I walked into this office that the banks were humming, that autos were selling, and that all you had to worry about was Iraq, Afghanistan, North Korea, getting health care passed, figuring out how to deal with energy independence, deal with Iran, and a pandemic flu, I would take that deal."