It was supposed to be a pool report about the Oval Office meeting with Their Majesties King Willem-Alexander and Queen Maxima of the Netherlands during their first official visit, but things got interesting as the press shouted questions at President Obama.
POTUS was not taking any questions and instead kept repeating, “Thank you so much” as the wrangler tried to usher the press out. Jim Acosta, CNN’s Senior White House Correspondent, asked President Obama if he had any comments about the expiring NSA authority. He got “Zip,” per the pooler.
So then the White House pool reporter asked the President if he thought Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) had learned any lessons (presumably after his epic humiliation Sunday night when he was unable to pass the Patriot Act.
To that question, Obama looked at the questioner, smiled expansively, and said “thank you.”
Senator McConnell has been trolling President Obama hard for his entire presidency.
In 2014, the Republican Senator ran on claiming he could lead. But now that he’s in power, things aren’t so easy. When forced to deliver on his promises, McConnell left a stunning defeat on the table as they voted to advance reforms to certain parts of the Patriot Act but not passing the legislation, leaving the country vulnerable to national security breaches. House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) said last night, “Now their procrastination will force the shutdown of vital intelligence gathering, leaving our nation needlessly vulnerable.”
Jason Easley broke the McConnell humiliation down Sunday night as the Senate voted to advance the USA Freedom Act (reforms to a section of the Patriot Act that covers data collection, specifically phone records):
This was a manufactured crisis that everyone saw coming, and Mitch McConnell did nothing to avoid it. Mitch McConnell tried to prove that he could flex his muscles and govern. Rand Paul is using the Senate as a platform for his presidential campaign.
In the end, the message to voters is clear. Republicans can’t govern without creating a crisis or a circus.
Meanwhile back at the circus Monday, Senator McConnell is trying to add an amendment to the Patriot Act that will necessitate it being sent back to the House before passage. Odd that he just came up with this amendment now, when they had a year and a half to determine what they wanted in the language.
Now that it hasn’t been passed and has sailed past the midnight deadline, now McConnell has some thoughts. White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest said Monday that Mitch McConnell’s one year transition amendment for bulk data was “completely unnecessary.”
Six years and some change later, the man who laid a detailed plan to derail the Obama presidency before he even took office is in the hot seat. And all President Obama can do is smile that smile he gets when he knows silence is better than words.
Eat crow, Mitch McConnell. You earned it.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.