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Clinton Takes Charge; Obama Takes a Powder — Update: Clinton Stance on ‘Bush Tax Cuts’ Changed From 2004

By Doug Powers  •  December 10, 2010 10:19 PM

**Written by Doug Powers

President Obama met with Bill Clinton on Friday. Clinton agreed to publicly back Obama on the tax/unemployment extension agreement with Republicans. Obama then brought Slick out before a hastily assembled press corps, and then left Clinton alone with them to work his Bubba magic:

In terms of Washington political drama, Friday was an instant classic.

President Obama ushered former President Bill Clinton to the White House briefing room late Friday for an impromptu press session, then abruptly left the wonky and winsome Arkansan at the podium by himself to defend the Obama administration’s tax deal.

“I’ve been keeping the first lady waiting for about half an hour, so I’m going to take off,” Obama said.

Clinton chuckled, joking, “I don’t want to make her mad. Please go,” and then quickly turned back to the microphone and began taking questions from the White House press corps, which had been given no advance notice of the two presidents’ trip to the briefing room.

The press corps will now report back to Obama’s very disenchanted left-wing base and the rest of those who are contributing to Obama’s perpetually foundering poll numbers of how it reminded everybody in the room of a happier, more competent time — and somebody on Team Obama thought this was good idea?

A few minutes in, President Obama excused himself because he had to “get to a Christmas party.” Clinton barely batted an eye while continuing to take questions for another half-hour under the “White House” backdrop, leaving onlookers with a palpable “let the adults take over now, Barry” feeling:

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.

Why would Obama leave 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 a real possibility — I just didn’t think Obama would help usher it in so agreeably.

Update: Bill Clinton was against the Bush tax cuts before he was for them.

From Clinton’s speech at the 2004 Democratic Convention:

At home, the president and the Republican Congress have made equally fateful choices, which they also deeply believe in.

For the first time when America was in a war footing in our whole history, they gave two huge tax cuts, nearly half of which went to the top 1 percent of us.

Now, I’m in that group for the first time in my life.

And you might remember that when I was in office, on occasion, the Republicans were kind of mean to me.

But as soon as I got out and made money, I became part of the most important group in the world to them. It was amazing. I never thought I’d be so well cared for by the president and the Republicans in Congress. I almost sent them a thank you note for my tax cuts until I realized that the rest of you were paying the bill for it. And then I thought better of it.

Until yesterday.

Update II: This 2008 piece from Iowahawk still holds up:

WASHINGTON DC – Ending weeks of speculation and rumors, President-Elect Barack Obama today named Bill Clinton to join his incoming administration as President of the United States, where he will head the federal government’s executive branch.

The rest here.

**Written by Doug Powers

Twitter @ThePowersThatBe

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