Tension: D.C. Democrats get in Obama's, Reid's faces over shutdown

Via Breitbart, an enjoyable bit of counterprogramming to the “GOP civil war” coverage that’s dominated political media for the past month (although, admittedly, this is less about a wider Democratic rift than a rift between local and national politicians with different constituencies to please). The GOP’s trying to pressure Democrats by passing small funding bills aimed at re-opening discrete parts of the government — like the District of Columbia. Democrats won’t pass those bills (except for military funding, the politics of which are too toxic to ignore) because they think they’re winning politically from the shutdown and won’t do anything to ease it unless Republicans cave completely. That’s why kids with cancer suddenly find their clinical trials at NIH suspended; Reid will give ground on funding the military because it hurts the party too much for him not to do so but everyone else can get bent in the name of preserving Democratic leverage. The last thing Obama and Reid need, then, is for individual Democrats to break ranks and endorse the GOP’s small-funding-bills strategy. But the last thing D.C. Democrats like Mayor Vincent Gray and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton need is for local D.C. voters to think they’re not doing everything they can to get federal money flowing into the District.

What’s a D.C. Democrat to do? This:

Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D-D.C.) had what some colleagues called “a heated exchange” and what she described as “a conversation” with President Obama during a White House meeting Wednesday afternoon regarding the District’s budget constraints as a result of the partial government shutdown…

Making her point, Norton spoke over the president and refused to yield the microphone, according to a lawmaker who attended the event. The lawmaker described Norton as “strident,” “self-absorbed” and “parochial” in her exchange with Obama…

While most lawmakers might not interrupt Obama as he answered their question, Norton said she was compelled to interject when Obama suggested in his response to her that the budget crunch facing the District is similar to how other congressional districts are adjusting during the shutdown.

“That demanded that I give a response,” she said. “Obviously we’re the only District in the United States. We’re uniquely in this position.”

Norton insisted she meant no disrespect towards the president. “He’s a big boy and I’m a big girl,” she said.

That was the private exchange. The public exchange, as you’ll see below, happened when Gray showed up on the Hill alongside Darrell Issa to lend public support to the GOP’s “re-open D.C.” funding gambit. That’s bad enough from the White House’s perspective, since it lends a bipartisan imprimatur and extra media coverage to the Republican pressure tactic. But then, noticing Reid holding a presser nearby, Gray decided to wander over and basically crash Dingy’s press conference, leading to the glorious “don’t screw it up!” rebuke below. I’m surprised he did it; having already had his big pro-funding photo op with Issa, he didn’t need to embarrass Reid too. Maybe a guy with scandal problems decided he needed to go the extra mile to impress D.C. voters. Or maybe the opportunity to humiliate Harry Reid is simply too delicious even for a devoted Democrat to ignore.