Count this among the greatest miscalculations of President Obama's career: “I'm going to let him speak very briefly,” Obama said Friday, upon introducing Bill Clinton in the White House briefing room for his triumphant, self-adulating return. (TIME)
(photo: Associated Press)
While stumping for Obama’s maligned tax deal at a White House presser Friday, the master triangulator taught his successor a lesson in the art of persuasion. Let’s hope the president was taking notes. Once Barack Obama ceded the podium, there was no stopping him. Bill Clinton, back in the building he called home for eight years, offered a tutorial in how to sell a legislative package in simple terms. Obama watched intently as his predecessor rambled on, perhaps convincing him there was no point in continuing, and that he’d better hustle off to a Christmas party. (The Daily Beast)
“I’ve never seen anything like that,” said MSNBC’sCenk Uygur after cutting back following a press conference on the tax plan. It had begun with a surprise appearance by President Obama who then brought in a further surprise, none other than Bill Clinton, to help him explain the deal. However, after introducing Clinton and letting him begin to talk, Obama suddenly announced that he was leaving for a Christmas party and vanished, letting Clinton talk for 25 more minutes as if it was 1996! I guess it could have been worse. Obama could have left to go play hoops.
The Washington Post saw it this way: "If not a transfer of power, the whole show seemed at least a temporary hand-off. An embattled president, fresh off an electoral shellacking and struggling to sell a controversial tax deal to members of his own party, turned to a former president who, exactly 16 years ago, was struggling to right his own presidency after a defeat of almost similar magnitude. President Obama had invited former president Bill Clinton to the White House for a private talk, the details of which neither man chose to describe. But their public appearance will be long remembered. The sight and sound of Clinton going solo in the White House briefing room, as Obama slipped away to a holiday party, was certainly a head-turner on a slow Friday afternoon. After brief remarks by Obama, Clinton slid behind the lectern as if he'd never left the building. For a time it looked like he might never leave, as he fielded questions from a White House press corps eager to keep him as long as it could. He stroked his chin. He folded his arms and looked pensive. He gesticulated expansively. He was part professor and full politician enjoying the spotlight. After a few minutes, Obama seemed to conclude that he would be better served by being out of the picture than as a bystander. "I've been keeping the first lady waiting for about half an hour, so I'm going to take off," he said. Clinton responded, "Well, I - I don't want to make her mad. Please go." And with that, Clinton had the stage to himself.
Nature does abhor a vacuum...