When I first heard this news, my impression was that the wily Clinton was upstaging Barack and an annoyed-but-helpless Barack left exasperated. Nearly everyone blogging this incredible news conference seemed to conclude Obama was in a hurry to get to his holiday party and was fine with leaving the grownup in charge. Which scenario is more incredible seems a toss up at this point. The whole thing is surreal.
Nearly all the video I have seen captures the jaw-dropping moment when Barack takes his leave as Clinton dismisses him with a wave of a hand. Mediate has a longer clip, however, that shows Clinton opening with a question "he feels awkward being here and you're going to leave me here all by myself," suggesting they actually planned it this way:
My jaw still hits the floor every time I replay the clip. Indeed, reports indicate that Obama and Clinton cooked this conference up all by themselves:
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.
Note the last link to the New York Times ends with a comment indicating Gibbs did not know which of the two came up with the plan for the news conference. I am going to go way out on a limb and bet everything Clinton hatched this plan. Just look at his face as he entered the briefing room:
Sometimes a picture is worth a thousand words and with Clinton he will add a thousand more to boot. He stayed reliving his glory days taking questions from the press for nearly an hour. I am surprised he didn't do the Risky Business Dance.