Bill Clinton: I'm in Control Here
Has there ever been a moment like this - a president calling in a former president for a joint press conference to help push legislation. Then, for the current president to beg off, leaving the job to the former president - and leaving the world, collectively, feeling like the better man is now in charge of the press room?
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.
And so it became clear pretty quickly that this was Clinton's show.
"I feel awkward being here, and now you're going to leave me all by myself," Clinton said from the stage of the White House briefing room.
Not that awkward.
For the first part of Clinton's performance, Obama, the current president, who never acts so freely in the briefing room, calling on reporters at will, stood by stoically watching the spectacle. The television cameras cut Obama out of the shot, making it look for most of the world like Clinton was again president, holding forth before the presidential seal.
The decision to hold a presser is said to have been a spontaneous one - and, it seems, one that backfired.
There was to be no press coverage allowed of Obama's meeting with Clinton. No photos, no questions, not even a written statement about what happened.
That changed when Obama and Clinton wrapped up their private meeting in the Oval Office. Clinton wanted to publicly endorse the tax package. Obama is welcoming all the help he can get.
So the two presidents headed straight for the famous briefing room with no warning.