Oh, I’ll bet they were. Say what you will about Axe, Gibbsy, and the rest of the crew, but I’d like to think they have the basic political common sense to avoid photo ops where the president has to skip out after a minute or two to go eat gingerbread cookies.

I’d like to think The One had the same basic political common sense, but … we learn something new every day, don’t we?

The leader of the free world and the ex-leader wandered a deserted hallway, past the offices of the senior advisers, only to discover the door to the press corps briefing room locked.

Had it not been, Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton might have discovered only a few reporters milling about or catching a few minutes of sleep. Instead, they turned around and found a junior staffer sitting outside of the office of Robert Gibbs, the White House press secretary.

“Do you know how to open up the briefing room?” Mr. Obama asked the staffer, Katie Hogan.

“Yeah,” Mr. Clinton said, “can you help us unlock it?”

Hearing that, Mr. Gibbs walked out.

“I said, ‘what are you guys up to?’” Mr. Gibbs recalled later. “President Obama said, ‘we’re looking for some reporters.’”

“What have you guys got on your mind,” Mr. Gibbs –- always cautious — countered.

You can almost hear the horror in Gibbs’s voice. Little did he know the world was about to witness a quasi-abdication of office, live across the dial on cable news, so that the most powerful man in the world could go sit on Santa’s lap and tell him that all he wants for Christmas is the START treaty ratified.

Here’s a new lowlight reel of the presser from Mediaite, which calls this “one of the worst PR moves in the entirety of the administration.” Exit quotation via Michael Scherer at Time, who might be joking about Clinton’s famous verbosity — or might not be: “Count this among the greatest miscalculations of President Obama’s career: ‘I’m going to let him speak very briefly,’ Obama said Friday, upon introducing Bill Clinton in the White House briefing room for his triumphant, self-adulating return.”