A press corps that just a couple of weeks ago was complaining they they never get to question the president now can’t get rid of him, as President Obama gets set to convene his third press conference in 17 days.
While this would normally be a welcome development, it’s actually a sure sign that the debt ceiling talks have descended to a new level of unseriousness, with each side positioning themselves to blame the other for whatever befalls the nation.
This could either end up being an increase in the debt ceiling without any deficit cuts, which would make the White House and Republicans each look farcical, or a failure to raise the debt ceiling, which would make all of us look farcical for voting these people into office. I don’t think it will be any kind of agreement on cuts.
How do I know Obama is no longer serious? Well, first of all, he’s never released any kind of plan. Everything is nebulous, nothing is being scored. Normally in these types of negotiations there is paper floating around all over the place and CBO or the Joint Tax Committee or some other outfit is buying up all the No-Doze in town to crunch the numbers. Staffers from both parties are hunkered down in the Speaker’s office, and committee chairmen are striding the halls of Congress, a gaggle of reporters in tow.
Secondly, White House Press Secretary James Carney piously proclaimed last week, when the negotiations between Obama and House Speaker John Boehner appeared to be about something more tangible, that he couldn’t even confirm private meetings between the two because getting a result required the utmost discretion and quietude.
And now we have Obama 24-7, staging press conferences and delivering interviews to local TV stations invited to the White House.
POLITICO summed up the prevailing circus up nicely, I thought.
Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-Nev.) suggested House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.) should be given a time-out for immature behavior. Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) said Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell had “lost his mind.” House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) and Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) reacted to a possible Camp David retreat as if it were a weekend pass to Alcatraz.
All of this came after President Barack Obama — who likes to portray himself as never getting too hot or too cold — lost his cool Wednesday night when he walked out of the meeting in a huff after Cantor kept pestering him about a short-term deal the president has flatly rejected.
They’re going to just raise the debt ceiling. Because the deadline is coming up soon. No, not the debt ceiling deadline, silly. The congressional summer recess starts August 6!