“What happened here has, to my knowledge, never happened. When the president finishes speaking, whenever the president finishes speaking, the event ends. Period.

“Not any longer.

“President Obama can change the rules of etiquette governing his White House if he wants. The problem for him is that those rules of etiquette exist for a reason. They are intended to enforce the standing of the presidency itself. By breaching them, Obama did harm to his own standing, and at a time when he can ill afford to lose any more of his authority…

“Washington froze in wonder at this momentary trip into the past. The sheer strangeness of the sight of Clinton alone at that podium crystallized the sense that the American political system (or more specifically, the Democratic party) had spun out of control over the course of the week.”

***
“It’s easy to understand why liberals are feeling a bit whiplashed. In the blink of an eye, they went from advancing the most progressive agenda since the Great Society to defending against a tax-cut bill that they say provides a windfall for the wealthiest Americans at the expense of everyone else…

“But as they throw a tantrum over a tax compromise that stands little chance of being rejected in the end, liberals risk further isolating themselves from a new political paradigm in which Obama, congressional Republicans and a healthy contingent of more moderate Democrats have coalesced around the package of tax cuts and unemployment benefits.

“Centrist Democrats warn that their liberal counterparts could do enough damage to themselves and to Obama to reassure independent voters who cast ballots for Republicans this year…

“One senior Democratic aide said the tax proposal is ‘going to pass’ and that the liberal complaining is ‘just going to make us look that much more irrelevant’ in the end.”

***
“For the first time in my adult lifetime, I am really proud of President Obama…

“[R]ather than caving in to liberals’ complaints and allowing Democrats on Capitol Hill to take the lead – as Obama did to his peril over the past two years – he has pushed back with the full force of his office. In private persuasion and in public talk, the White House has delivered to disgruntled liberals a message summed up by Vice President Biden in a private session with lawmakers on Wednesday: Take it or leave it…

“One White House official told me that Obama will build a ‘shifting set of coalitions, issue by issue’ over the next two years. If so, and if Obama will no longer allow those in the Capitol to run his presidency, he’ll have a strong couple of years.”

***
“After watching a clip of Obama exiting Friday’s press conference and handing the reigns to President Clinton, NPR’s Mara Liasson commented: ‘I do believe that if President Obama is re-elected, the people who write the books on it will show this week as the week when things started to turn around for him. Not only with the deal itself, but also the fact that the White House seems to have gotten over its Clinton-phobia, where they used to eschew everything and every strategy that Clinton ever did. And now, they realize there is something to learn from what Bill Clinton did when he had a divided government…Obama shows that he has no problem with that. It’s a good sign about a leader.'”