Clinton’s Podium Appearance—The Twitter Version

By WSJ Staff

Washington’s twitterrati are abuzz over former President Bill Clinton’s 30-minute Happy-Days stint at the White House podium. Here are some of Washington Wire’s favorite quips.

daveweigel (Dave Weigel, Slate Magazine): BREAKING: Incoming House GOP files articles of impeachment against Clinton again, “just in case.”

MajoratNJ (Major Garrett, National Journal): I guess the Mayor of Chappaqua has special WH podium privileges

mattyglesias (Matt Yglesias, Think Progress) They should get the whole old band back together — Clinton, Blair, Schroder, Jospin, Prodi, Kok, etc. #90sparty

ezraklein (Ezra Klein, the Washington Post): After this, Bill Clinton is going to go sit in the Oval Office, “just until Obama gets back.”

markknoller (Mark Knoller, CBS): I asked Clinton if he was glad to be back advising & commenting than governing. “Oh, I had quite a good time governing,” said Clinton.

janehamsher (Jane Hamsher, liberal blogger): Bill Clinton endorses tax deal. Remember when he told Dems their poll numbers would go up if they voted for HCR? Good times.

PElliottAP (Phil Elliott, AP):I am at a loss to explain what I just watched.

davecatanese (Dave Catanese, Politico): Breaking: SNL doing complete re-write for opener. #bubbasback

daveweigel: Remember when folks were worried that President Hillary would give too much influence to Bill? So yeah.

WestWingReport: Clinton cites columnist Charles Krauthammer, who says the tax agreement is really a second stimulus plan that will benefit Obama

mkhammer (Mary Katharine Ham, Daily Caller): Since it’s 1996 again, and a Fri. night, looks like I’ll be drinking Boone’s Farm in the Bojangle’s parking lot after the football game.

davidfrum (David Frum): Moral of Twittergastic response to Clinton briefing: Americans really miss their money.

Notable silences: @PressSec (White Press Secretary Robert Gibbs)

The Surprise Trip to the Briefing Room


The unannounced visit by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton to the White House briefing room was a surprise to absolutely everyone – including Mr. Obama’s top advisers.

When the meeting between the two men ended just after 4:15 p.m. on Friday, virtually everyone in the West Wing was in the White House residence at the annual holiday party for the building’s overworked staff.

The leader of the free world and the ex-leader wandered a deserted hallway, past the offices of the senior advisers, only to discover the door to the press corps briefing room locked.

Had it not been, Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton might have discovered only a few reporters milling about or catching a few minutes of sleep. Instead, they turned around and found a junior staffer sitting outside of the office of Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary.

“Do you know how to open up the briefing room?” Mr. Obama asked the staffer, Katie Hogan.

“Yeah,” Mr. Clinton said, “can you help us unlock it?”

Hearing that, Mr. Gibbs walked out.

“I said, ‘what are you guys up to?’” Mr. Gibbs recalled later. “President Obama said, ‘we’re looking for some reporters.’”

“What have you guys got on your mind,” Mr. Gibbs –- always cautious — countered.

The two presidents told Mr. Gibbs that they had been talking about the controversial tax compromise that Mr. Obama had reached with Republicans and wanted Mr. Clinton to make a few remarks.

“I said, ‘can you guys give me about five minutes,’” Mr. Gibbs recalled telling them.

Ms. Hogan made a quick announcement over the West Wing public address system, urging reporters to come to the briefing room “right now!”

Mr. Gibbs hustled down to the briefing room, where the microphone at the podium was not even turned on. Reporters scrambled to their seats as the networks quickly flipped on the switches to go live.

At one point, some reporters asked how long Mr. Gibbs thought it would be until the hastily called press conference started.

“How long?” Mr. Gibbs said. “They’re just on the other side of that door!”

Mr. Gibbs said he did not know which of the two men initiated the idea to come to the press room. But one thing he did know, he said: “Only a locked door slowed the whole process down.”


Obama exits, Clinton keeps talking

Politico – By CAROL E. LEE

Nobody owns the presidential podium like Bill Clinton, even in the Obama White House.

The former president, who stopped by the White House on Friday to meet with the current president and endorse his tax cuts deal with Republicans, held court for a half hour in the briefing room after President Barack Obama left to attend a holiday party in the residence.

Obama had barely left the room when Clinton rested his elbows on the podium and settled in. And once he was there, he couldn’t get enough.

He fielded nearly a dozen questions, twice as many as Obama took during his briefing room press conference on Tuesday. He knew the reporters by name — calling out Ann Compton of ABC and George Condon of the National Journal with ease. Obama’s press secretary, Robert Gibbs, repeatedly tried in vain to rein him in. (“Gibbs will call ‘last question,’” Obama informed reporters as he left for the party.)

“Mr. President, I get the feeling that you’re happier to be here commenting and giving advice than governing,” CBS’s Mark Knoller said to Clinton.

“Oh, I had quite a good time governing,” Clinton replied. “I am happy to be here.”

Obama seemed to convey just the opposite feeling. He had met privately with Clinton in the Oval Office for more than an hour before the two decided at the last minute to make an appearance in front of the cameras, but he stayed in the briefing room only about 90 seconds.

“I thought, given the fact that he presided over as good an economy as we’ve seen in our lifetimes, that it might useful for him to share some of his thoughts,” Obama said before turning the podium over to Clinton. “I’m going to let him speak very briefly, and then I’ve actually got to go over and do some — just one more Christmas party. So he may decide he wants to take some questions, but I wanted to make sure that you guys heard from him directly.”

When the first question came from a reporter, he responded by saying: “I’ve been keeping the first lady waiting for about half an hour, so I’m going to take off.”

“Well, I don’t want to make her mad,” Clinton joked. “Please go.”

For a press corps obsessed this week with comparing Clinton and Obama, the contrast was right in front of them.

“First of all, I feel awkward being here, and now you’re going to leave me all by myself?” Clinton joked, getting a smile out of his successor.

But even before Obama left Clinton alone, the former president was the center of attention. One of the cable television shots had completely blocked Obama out, even as he stood by Clinton’s side, his arms crossed, nodding occasionally while his predecessor delved into his thinking on the tax cuts compromise…

The relationship between Clinton and Obama has not always been smooth. Tensions were high during the 2008 Democratic primary fight between Obama and Hillary Clinton. President Clinton later campaigned for Obama after he won the nomination in 2008, and the two have met several times since Obama took office.

Gibbs described their relationship now as “very warm.” There’s a “unique bond between those that have done this job and those that have sat in that office during good times and bad, during domestic and foreign crises,” he told reporters Friday.

Neither president would say on Friday what advice was exchanged.

“I have a general rule, which is that it — whatever he asks me about my advice and whatever I say should become public only if he decides to make it public,” Clinton said, as Obama stood silent. “He can say whatever he wants.”

At which point, Obama headed to the holiday party.

…Obama called the former president in to make the case he was unable to make himself and then left to party. James Taranto noted that Bill Clinton was an odd endorser of the proposed tax rates:

I was at the 2004 Democratic Convention, where I watched Bill Clinton deliver a very effective, though completely wrongheaded, attack on the Bush tax rates. Today I turn on the TV to see Bill Clinton holding a White House news conference to endorse those same tax rates. It’s great to see him come around, even if his return to the presidential podium runs counter to the spirit of the 22nd Amendment. [h/t: Daily Caller]

It’s as if it shocks Obama that his promise to stop the rising of the waters and to heal the sick and feed the poor doesn’t seem enough.  People want to see results, and the only results they are seeing is the destruction of centuries’ worth of sound legal doctrine (the bailouts) and economic structures (our health care system) and national wealth (trillions wasted to no end except to pay off Obama’s friends).

Or is it that having stepped out of the chattering classes into a position of responsibility, Obama is being forced — too late — to realize that all his beliefs and those of the left are just so much unicorn scat — unworkable, unrealistic nonsense?  If that’s so, no wonder he seems disquieted.  He surely isn’t able to see where to go since being exiled from wonderland, where he was the one we were waiting for, to reality, where he seems unable to carry out his responsibilities and retain his allies and support.

In fact, Obama’s spokesman Gibbs did point his finger at Congress and said they should have taken up the issue before November, as Obama urged them to, but the truth is that,having rammed through the unpopular ObamaCare law, both the congressional leadership and the administration caved to the Blue Dogs’ pleas that the tax issue be put in order for them to have any hope of reelection.  The left-wingers who lost that battle are now in no mood to cede to the White House’s begging for  more “compromise.”  And when all is said and done, the White House failure to communicate the deal with the congressional Democrats before announcing it publicly revealed a striking ignorance of Washington protocol and rubbed salt in their wounds.

Whether the proposal is good or bad remains murky as new provisions are added, and the numbers remain unclear.  Here are the latest legislative documents I can find, in case you care to make up your own mind.

Legislative Documents for the Obama Tax Compromise Bill

…When you elect to the office of chief executive someone with not one minute’s worth of executive experience, this is what you get.  He can’t do his job, and the people he appointed to work with him are just as ill-suited for their positions.

end – Updates:  Clarice’s Pieces & Metrodome Pic 😉