A Profile in Courage
Who is the guy next to Clinton afraid of Michelle?
From the NY Times:
The unannounced visit by President Obama and former President Bill Clinton to the White House briefing room was a surprise to absolutely everyone – including Mr. Obama’s top advisers.
When the meeting between the two men ended just after 4:15 p.m. on Friday, virtually everyone in the West Wing was in the White House residence at the annual holiday party for the building’s overworked staff.
The leader of the free world and the ex-leader wandered a deserted hallway, past the offices of the senior advisers, only to discover the door to the press corps briefing room locked.
Had it not been, Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton might have discovered only a few reporters milling about or catching a few minutes of sleep. Instead, they turned around and found a junior staffer sitting outside of the office of Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary.
“Do you know how to open up the briefing room?” Mr. Obama asked the staffer, Katie Hogan.
“Yeah,” Mr. Clinton said, “can you help us unlock it?”
Hearing that, Mr. Gibbs walked out.
“I said, ‘what are you guys up to?’” Mr. Gibbs recalled later. “President Obama said, ‘we’re looking for some reporters.’”
“What have you guys got on your mind,” Mr. Gibbs –- always cautious — countered.
The two presidents told Mr. Gibbs that they had been talking about the controversial tax compromise that Mr. Obama had reached with Republicans and wanted Mr. Clinton to make a few remarks.
“I said, ‘can you guys give me about five minutes,’” Mr. Gibbs recalled telling them.
Ms. Hogan made a quick announcement over the West Wing public address system, urging reporters to come to the briefing room “right now!”
Mr. Gibbs hustled down to the briefing room, where the microphone at the podium was not even turned on. Reporters scrambled to their seats as the networks quickly flipped on the switches to go live.
At one point, some reporters asked how long Mr. Gibbs thought it would be until the hastily called press conference started.
“How long?” Mr. Gibbs said. “They’re just on the other side of that door!”
Mr. Gibbs said he did not know which of the two men initiated the idea to come to the press room. But one thing he did know, he said: “Only a locked door slowed the whole process down.”