A long-running tiff between the White House press corps and the West Wing over presidential access flared anew today when press secretary Jay Carney faced off with reporters over the right to shout questions at the president during debt talks.
When asked today why TV crews and print reporters were barred from the pool covering the White House meeting with congressional leaders on the deficit, Carney responded by pointing out that the administration has held two press conferences in the past two weeks and allowed TV cameras into the spray earlier this week.
“People shouted questions at him,” Carney said. He then added, “The purpose of the meeting is not to create a circus, but to negotiate, so today we’re doing stills only.”
They “shouted at him” so he’s not taking questions today?
The New York Times details both sides of last night’s tantrum-talks which resulted in Obama sashaying from the room:
Mr. Cantor complained that Mr. Obama was constantly changing the amount of spending he was willing to cut, and Mr. Cantor raised the idea of increasing the debt limit in small, temporary increments over the next 18 months.What about a short-term goal, Mr. Cantor asked?The president “got very agitated, seemingly,” Mr. Cantor told reporters.”Eric, don’t call my bluff,” the president said, according to Republican aides. “I’m going to the American people with this.”Mr. Obama then told Mr. Cantor that he was willing to defend his position with the American people, aides said.It will be a tax increase on the American people if we default, and it’s my responsibility, Mr. Obama said. He then asked whether Ronald Reagan would be “sitting here,” an apparent suggestion that, unlike current Republicans, Mr. Reagan was willing to compromise in order to achieve a deal.I’ve reached my limit, Mr. Obama said. This may bring my presidency down, but I will not yield on this.At that point, Mr. Obama stormed out of the room, Mr. Cantor said.”He shoved back and said, ‘I’ll see you tomorrow’ and walked out,” Mr. Cantor told reporters. “I was a little taken aback.”
And the Democrats’ version:
They said the exchange took place as Mr. Obama was beginning to wrap up the long meeting.Let’s stop the catering to our bases. Let’s start compromising and solving this problem for the American people, because the clock is ticking, Mr. Obama told those assembled around the table.Mr. Cantor interrupted — rudely, according to the Democratic aides.We should pursue short-term debt ceiling increases, Mr. Cantor said.
Mr. Obama rejected the idea. It’s not an acceptable outcome to have an extension of the debt ceiling that doesn’t get into 2013, the president said. Mr. Cantor tried two more times, interrupting the president to advocate for a stop-gap measure.”Enough is enough,” the president said.Let’s stop the catering to our bases, Mr. Obama told Mr. Cantor. Let’s start compromising and solving this problem for the American people, because the clock is ticking.Aides described Mr. Obama as animated and passionate.We have to get this solved for the American people, the president said. We have to be willing to compromise. It shouldn’t be about positioning and politics.When he finished, Mr. Obama got up, said “I’ll see you all tomorrow” and walked out of the Cabinet Room toward his office.
I’m sure the President, who has in the past week, condescended to Americans and congress by comparing them to children simply because they disagree that jacking up taxes in lieu of cutting spending is the way to rescue the economy, was perfectly polite.
It’s not the first time he’s gotten testy with the White House Press Corps. This video has all the “uhhhs” edited out.
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He’s just trying to eat his waffle.
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Of course, if he doesn’t want to take questions he can always have Clinton pinch hit for him again.