I can’t find a transcript of the presser so I don’t know if anyone asked the obvious follow-up: How can he claim it’s “counterproductive” when Politico’s reporting that they’ve had a deliberate strategy to provoke Limbaugh in place since last year? The whole point, supposedly, is that Rush-baiting is very productive indeed. Anyone? Tapper? Bueller?

As for why he’s suddenly climbing down, credit Drudge with a screaming banner about “enemies lists” and some grumbling in the media about pettiness and hypocrisy. Michael Scherer at Time:

If you believed what Obama said during the campaign, then Carville is dead wrong. Republicans in Congress are not the only losers. The American people also lose. At a time of unprecedented threats to the United States, a time of financial collapse, bank failures and record layoffs, at a time when the credit crisis has not been solved, and the stock market is in free fall, at a time of stagnating wars, rising terrorism in Pakistan and growing nuclear potential in Iran, the White House has done the easy thing. It has asked the American people to focus their attention not on solving the problems, but on a big-mouthed entertainer in Florida. This may be smart politics. But it is also the same petty strategy that John McCain employed during the presidential campaign, the one that our new president promised to rise above.

And Jay Cost at RCP:

I understand why Democrats in Congress, the media, and the DNC are doing this. Frankly, that doesn’t bother me at all. That’s the way political games are played, and GOP politicos have certainly done their fair share of this over the years to deserve all that they get. But I am deeply disappointed that the President himself is playing this game – not just because he is the President and this kind of nonsense should be beneath him. It’s also because he is the President in part because he promised he wouldn’t do this stuff! And yet, we’ve seen this kind of immature nonsense quite a bit from an administration that has only been in place for a month.

Per Cost, read this painful Dana Milbank piece to see what’s fallen through the cracks while they’ve been busy with Rush. “Immature” indeed.