Ed Driscoll

'Something Very, Very Weird is Going on in Washington'

The headline is by fellow Bay Area blogger Bookworm Room, but we’ll get to her post in just a moment. But first, Allahpundit runs down today’s DC weirdness du jour — Bill Clinton taking over President — I think he’s still president, right? — Obama’s press conference:

I can’t do justice to what you’re about to see. The spectacle of the president bugging out of his own press conference to go to a Christmas party is weird enough, but having Clinton back at the White House podium fielding questions on the hottest domestic issue of the day shoots past deja vu and lands firmly in “am I hallucinating?” territory. (The good news: It turned Twitter into an hour-long snark free-for-all, with Michael Goldfarb taking first prize.)

Here’s how the New York Times reported the incident. (Link safe, goes to the Brothers Judd):

The president stood by Mr. Clinton’s side for several minutes as Mr. Clinton held court in front of the White House logo that often hovered behind him a decade ago.But after Mr. Clinton began taking questions, the current president excused himself, saying that his wife, Michelle, expected Mr. Obama’s presence at one of the many holiday parties that presidents host during the month of December.

“I’ve been keeping the first lady waiting,” Mr. Obama said, excusing himself.

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

And with that, Mr. Obama departed, leaving Mr. Clinton to continue his extended conversation with the media. […]

Mr. Clinton went on for at least 20 minutes, moving at one point beyond the tax debate and offering his opinion on the administration’s new arms control treaty with Russia and the ongoing crisis in Haiti.

Even before Barry’s Mondo Bizarro moment today, Peggy Noonan writes, “No president has alienated his base the way Obama has:”

We have not in our lifetimes seen a president in this position. He spent his first year losing the center, which elected him, and his second losing his base, which is supposed to provide his troops. There isn’t much left to lose! Which may explain Tuesday’s press conference.

President Obama was supposed to be announcing an important compromise, as he put it, on tax policy. Normally a president, having agreed with the opposition on something big, would go through certain expected motions. He would laud the specific virtues of the plan, show graciousness toward the negotiators on the other side—graciousness implies that you won—and refer respectfully to potential critics as people who’ll surely come around once they are fully exposed to the deep merits of the plan.

Instead Mr. Obama said, essentially, that he hates the deal he just agreed to, hates the people he made the deal with, and hates even more the people who’ll criticize it. His statement was startling in the breadth of its animosity. Republicans are “hostage takers” who worship a “holy grail” of “tax cuts for the wealthy.” “That seems to be their central economic doctrine.”

As for the left, they ignore his accomplishments and are always looking for “weakness and compromise.” They are “sanctimonious,” “purist,” and just want to “feel good about” themselves. In a difficult world, they cling to their “ideal positions” and constant charges of “betrayals.”

Those not of the left might view all this as straight talk, and much needed. But if you were of the left it would only deepen your anger and sharpen your response. Which it did. “Gettysburg,” “sellout,” “disaster.”

“Are the wheels coming off the bus, or are we witnessing the most brilliant, and dangerous, political theater in our life times,” Bookworm Room asks, supplying the headline at the top of this post and a contrarian take on this week’s DC kabuki:

And finally, to add to the surreal quality of it all, Obama seems to have turned the presidency back over to Bill Clinton, at least temporarily.  Drew, blogging at Ace, thinks that this is a sign that Obama is not up to the job, but I’m beginning to wonder.  There’s much more going on here than meets the eye, and it’s worth remembering, as both Krauthammer and Don Quixote did, that Obama made his way up through the street theater of Leftism.

We may be counting our chickens far in advance of their hatching if we blithely assume that Obama is giving up.  He’s a dirty fighter, but he’s definitely a fighter.

Read the whole thing — and talk amongst yourselves in the comments. What the heck is going on amongst our self-styled betters in the Beltway Ruling Class?

Update: “Say what you want about Sarah Palin quitting her job, but at least she finished her own press conference,” Jim Treacher quips, asking, “Did Obama just quit?”

Guestblogging at Michelle Malkin’s Website, Doug Powers writes, “Clinton Takes Charge; Obama Takes a Powder:”

After the 2008 media deification of Barack Obama, that was like watching somebody who was billed as Zeus getting into a fight and responding by hiding behind his dad.

And what’s with leaving Clinton alone with the press corps under these conditions? A bigger mistake hasn’t been made since Eddie Fisher agreed to let Elizabeth Taylor share a makeup trailer with Richard Burton on the set of Cleopatra.

I always thought a “Hillary 2012″ challenge was possible — I just didn’t think Obama would help usher it in so agreeably.

And this doesn’t seem to be one of those moments where the right is horrified but the left is in awe, as these two quotes from center left sites rounded up Allahpundit highlight:

Here’s a new lowlight reel of the presser from Mediaite, which calls this “one of the worst PR moves in the entirety of the administration.” Exit quotation via Michael Scherer at Time, who might be joking about Clinton’s famous verbosity — or might not be: “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 as Allah adds, even Obama’s inner circle were equally baffled by The One’s actions today.

Update: As always, Iowahawk makes sense of a seemingly complex and multifaceted existential crisis in our nation’s capitol.

Update: Or, as I wrote in November of 2008 when I originally linked to the above post, “Life (As Always) Imitates Iowahawk” — I only just now realized, after first seeing it on Friday night at Instapundit (on airborne wi-fi while flying back from the east coast), that Iowahawk’s post was from two years ago, thus making Mr. Burge one of the few satirists to, if not best Mr. Muggeridge’s Law, at least give it one heck of a head start.

And found via the Anchoress, the headline on this November 2000 Onion article was rather prophetic as well.