President Obama’s only contribution to the discussion was a brief and somewhat apologetic acknowledgment of the obvious point that his administration had decided to continue the programs. “My assessment and my team’s assessment was that they help us prevent terrorist attacks. And the modest encroachments on privacy that are involved in getting phone numbers or duration without a name attached and not looking at content—that on, you know, net, it was worth us doing. Some other folks may have a different assessment of that.”

The president ended his answer with something of a flourish, combining his reminders about oversight with his enthusiasm for the national discussion. “These programs are subject to congressional oversight and congressional reauthorization and congressional debate. .  .  . And we’re happy to have that debate.” So happy that Obama promised “we’ll have a chance to talk further during the course of the next couple days.”

That was June 7. And that was the last we’ve heard from the president on the subject.

So the president wants a debate, but he doesn’t want to participate.