I missed Friday’s impromptu White House press conference, but I think I’ve gotten the gist of it. Published and broadcast accounts have filled in most of the details, and I can speculate on the rest. Here’s how it seemed to have come down:
President Obama decided he needed a bit of help in getting his tax cut/unemployment compromise through the Democrats in Congress, so he called in Bill Clinton for some advice. The two men shot the breeze for a while, and then one of them (I suspect Clinton) suggested they hold a quick press event to talk about how good a deal it was. This was obviously unplanned, as Obama’s staff didn’t have time to prep for it — no announcements, no talking points, and certainly no TelePrompters.
In theory, this could have been a good move. When sitting presidents involve their predecessors, it tends to lend weight and gravitas to the event. To have Bill Clinton speak in favor of the deal could help sway support for the move.
Good theory, atrocious execution. Because both men immediately fell victim to their own weaknesses.
What should have happened was that they both enter, Obama speaks and lays the groundwork, Bill Clinton speaks, and then the two field questions — with Clinton deferring to Obama.
Instead, Obama — who really seems like he’s more interested in being president than acting as president, in love with the perqs and not that interested in the duties — stood off to the side, looking more and more bored, until he bowed out to go to a party. And Bill Clinton — who, as is is wont, let his political instincts take a back seat to his ego — cheerfully kept on talking and talking. And when the topic shifted from the immediate issue to wider ones — the economy, and then other world situations — he kept talking and answering.
Except for looking a bit older and thinner, it could have been video from the 1990’s.
There are some fundamental principles of leadership, especially in hostile environments. And the current world certainly qualifies as “a hostile environment” for the President of the United States. (Come to think of it, I can’t recall when it wasn’t.) One of the biggest ones is to be very careful and selective when showing weakness.
On Friday, Obama showed major weakness for no real reason. He essentially passed off his presidential authority to one of two living Americans who are Constitutionally excluded from holding that office ever again. And of the two, Bill Clinton is the one who has demonstrated that he misses being president.
I noted years ago that Obama was just not qualified to serve as president. He had never held any executive or leadership position, and as a legislator was extremely lackluster. And this incident just reinforces the notion that he has very little interest in actually doing the job of being president — just enjoying the benefits that go with it.
God help us, we are stuck with this boob for two more years.
An earlier version of this article was eaten by gremlins that were also feeding off attempted comments.