After a day of spin from the White House didn’t tamp down outrage over Barack Obama’s sotto voce conversation with Russian President Dmitri Medvedev, the President himself addressed the controversy. Earlier today, Obama insisted that nothing he told Medvedev was out of the ordinary, and that he wasn’t “hiding the ball” on missile defense:
A defensive President Obama said Tuesday he wasn’t guilty of “hiding the ball” when an open microphone caught him pleading with the president of Russia to delay missile shield talks until after this year’s elections.
“The only way I get this stuff done is If I’m consulting with the Pentagon, with Congress, if I’ve got bipartisan support and frankly, the current environment is not conducive to those kinds of thoughtful consultations,” Mr. Obama told reporters at a nuclear security summit here. “This is not a matter of hiding the ball.” …
“I don’t think it’s any surprise that you can’t start that a few months before presidential and congressional elections in the United States, and at a time when they just completed elections in Russia, and they’re in the process of a presidential transition where a new president’s going to be coming in, in a little less than two months,” Mr. Obama said.
Er — riiight. Here is the transcript once again from the conversation:
President Obama: On all these issues, but particularly missile defense, this, this can be solved but it’s important for him to give me space.
President Medvedev: Yeah, I understand. I understand your message about space. Space for you…
President Obama: This is my last election. After my election I have more flexibility.
President Medvedev: I understand. I will transmit this information to Vladimir.
“After my election, I have more flexibility.” He’s not talking about Congressional elections. He’s trying to get “space” from Putin, through Medvedev, in order to get himself re-elected. And to get that space — in which Putin would presumably back off of his public comments on missile defense — Obama promised Russia “flexibility” on missile defense once he gets past “my last election,” and the last time voters can hold him accountable for his actions.
The White House continued to spin this as a demonstration of Obama’s commitment to nuclear disarmament and missile defense:
White House aides said the president was still “deeply invested” in the missile defense system.
Uh huh. Here was Obama’s “deep investment” in this 2008 video from his campaign, in which he promised to “end misguided defense policies,” and one of the first topics mentioned is … missile defense:
I will cut investments in unproven missile-defense systems.
So when was Obama “hiding the ball”? Then or now?