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What Happened During The Clinton-Obama Closed Door Meeting?

What Happened During The Clinton-Obama Closed Door Meeting?

Published by Ulsterman on December 11, 2010


President Barack Obama met with former President Bill Clinton for nearly two hours inside the Oval Office. After that, the two men called an impromptu press conference that eventually left Bill Clinton speaking to the nation as the de facto President of the United States.

By any measure, what happened last week at the White House between President Barack Obama and former President Bill Clinton was both surreal, and astounding. Never has a current president so abdicated their role to another within the confines of the White House as did Barack Obama on that day. First came the behind closed door meeting between the two men inside the Oval Office, a meeting that lasted nearly two hours, and reportedly began amicably enough, but by its conclusion, had Bill Clinton schooling the current president like some political version of a first-year grad student.

Few if any have described Bill Clinton, or his wife Hillary, of being politicians with a penchant for forgiveness. As Bill Clinton sat across from Obama in the Oval Office, the memory of Obama having played the race card on the former president during the 2008 primary race had to have been a palpable presence between the two political titans. Add to that the fact that Obama was reaching out to Clinton not so much in deference, but rather in desperation, only added to the superior tactical position Mr. Clinton found himself. Obama may have won the campaign, but Bill Clinton might very well be working to ensure he wins history – such is the ultimate hope for all politicians, and in the last 20 years, there has been no better American politician than William Jefferson Clinton.

While few specific details have leaked out regarding what transpired between President Obama and Bill Clinton, some information is being carefully placed out there – and this information is not coming from the Obama White House.

The Obama administration, in a panic over an uprising by the left wing of the Democratic Party regarding the proposed tax rate legislation, reached out to former president Clinton, requesting Clinton meet with President Obama at the White House. Clinton was happy to comply, having already been in contact with a number of Congressional Democrats who were bending the ear of Mr. Clinton for several weeks – the primary subject being ever increasing dissatisfaction with the Obama White House.

Reportedly, after the cordialities were dispensed with, Bill Clinton began a rather determined dissertation on the many wrongs the Obama administration had undertaken against fellow House and Senate Democrats over the course of the last year. Obama listened, even agreeing at times, but all the while clearly expressing his primary concern was to get a public mention of support by Bill Clinton for the tax deal compromise. Clinton indicated he would be willing to do so, while also urging President Obama that today may in fact be the best time to make that announcement. Once his public support was given, Clinton would then reach out to those members of Congress he continues to enjoy strong relationships with, and obtain assurances they would support the Obama tax plan proposal. President Obama is said to have indicated agreement that the sooner the Clinton support was made public, the better.

Here is where the information gets most interesting. After White House staff and the Press Corps scrambled to prepare for the impromptu press conference, and after President Obama gave yet another brief, halting, and clearly uncertain explanation of the tax rate proposal, replete with a multitude of umms and uhs, and staring down at the floor, President Obama indicated he was going to let Bill Clinton “speak briefly.” Where Obama had spoken to the press for less than 3 minutes, Bill Clinton took center stage and spoke, without teleprompter, and with a concise and authoritative understanding of issues ranging from tax rates to Haiti, for the next half hour.

Clinton began his remarks by stating he spends about an hour a day trying to understand this economy, so he can figure out what to do. Clinton went on to expound upon the essentials of the agreement, and defend its implications – in essence, appearing to have far more understanding of the Obama tax compromise than Obama himself. There were likely more than a few members of the press wondering if Obama had yet even read his own tax proposal agreement. At the 6:35 mark, President Obama made his first attempt to cut off Bill Clinton and take back the podium. Clinton disregarded Obama’s move, and continued to speak – somehow managing to talk over President Obama while still maintaining his instantly recognizable “aw shucks” tone of voice. It is at that moment we note the first clearly visible anger come from President Obama. From this point on, Bill Clinton is completely off script. He is now effectively “running the show” – and Obama knows it.

By the 8:20 mark, the White House Press Corps begins asking Bill Clinton questions while Obama stands next to the former president, looking increasingly uncomfortable and agitated. Clinton is likely aware of Obama’s condition, quite possibly having knowingly orchestrated this very scenario just moments prior. At the 10:28 mark Obama folds his arms across his chest, staring down the reporter who continues to pose questions to Bill Clinton. At 10:55 Obama again attempts to retake the podium – Bill Clinton does not give it up. It is at that point Barack Obama, current President of the United States, looks down at his watch and declares he is 30 minutes late for a Christmas party, and that, “Gibbs will call last question.” (Even though Obama has actually only been at the press conference for about 10 minutes) A clearly terse handshake between Obama and Clinton is undertaken, followed by Obama’s abrupt turn away from the podium and a short walk to the door.

It is at this moment, some 11 minutes into the press conference, the situation does indeed enter into the surreal. Obama is now off camera as another reporter poses the next question to Bill Clinton while using the title “Mr. President”. For the next 20 minutes, Clinton is speaking to the nation from the White House, without the use of a teleprompter, without specific preparation of the questions being posed – and he hits it out of the park. Each Clinton response shows an indisputable depth of knowledge, with an ability to explain that knowledge in terms easily understood by all. It is the kind of presidential performance not seen at any time yet during the Obama administration.

At about the 16:00 minute mark, a member of the press asks Clinton if Obama should be a one term president. Clinton, while briefly stating he does not believe that to be the case, spends far more time defending Democrats in Congress- the very group who now openly challenge Obama’s competence as president in now-infamous four letter terms.

The final few minutes were given to Clinton detailing the concept of “principled compromise” – that essential element inherent within a democracy. Clinton’s final, and historically familiar declaration was that at present for the American government it must be “the economy first.” People are truly hurting, and they must be helped.

Recent polls have Obama’s handling of the economy garnering his absolute lowest approval ratings from among the American public.

Given his clear grasp of wide ranging subjects and all things political, it seems very unlikely Bill Clinton was unaware of that fact.

See the entire press conference here:



Entire article here with photos: http://newsflavor.com/politics/us-politics/the-ulsterman-report-what-happened-during-the-clinton-obama-closed-door-meeting/

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