I’m a bit late commenting on this, but if you want your news fresh, pick a blogger with fewer small children.
Politico got its feathers all ruffled over this:
President Barack Obama made a surprise visit to the White House press corps Thursday night, but got agitated when he was faced with a substantive question.
Asked how he could reconcile a strict ban on lobbyists in his administration with a deputy defense secretary nominee who lobbied for Raytheon, Obama interrupted with a knowing smile on his face.
“Ahh, see,” he said, “I came down here to visit. See this is what happens. I can’t end up visiting with you guys and shaking hands if I’m going to get grilled every time I come down here.”
Pressed further by the Politico reporter about his Pentagon nominee, William J. Lynn III, Obama turned more serious, putting his hand on the reporter’s shoulder and staring him in the eye.
“Alright, come on” he said, with obvious irritation in his voice. “We will be having a press conference at which time you can feel free to [ask] questions. Right now, I just wanted to say hello and introduce myself to you guys – that’s all I was trying to do.”
Personally, I think it was pretty rude of the reporter to press the point. If the visit was an impromptu social call, the President stopping by to welcome the reporters to his White House and learn who’s who in the White House press corps, then it wasn’t the time to grill him about appointments. And it seemed to me that his first response was gracious enough, and when the reporter wouldn’t take the hint, the President was a bit more emphatic, but still not rude or out of line.
Drudge headlined the story, and Hannity made a fuss about it on his show (which I like less in its post-Colmes incarnation), but I’m still scratching my head. Why is this big news? Why can’t the President make a friendly visit to the press room without being forced into a press conference on some reporter’s timetable rather than his own? Transparency means you ought to answer questions, but not that you have to answer them where and when some Politico reporter says. The President is the President, and he deserves some respect. I’m just being fair and consistent here. I’d have thought the reporter was rude if Bush had been the President in question, and I think he was rude now that it’s Obama in the White House.
Lest you, gentle readers, suspect I’m becoming an Obama Mama after the fact, rest assured that I still deplore most of his policy positions, but think it’s important to criticize him for appropriate reasons, and not for trivial ones.
The obscure Latin post title, for those who may be curious, quotes the sixth century Byzantine Emperor Justinian, who qualified his censure of Pope Vigilius by emphasizing that he condemned non sedem, sed sedentem (“not the See but the one who sits in it”).