President Barack Obama didn’t appear riled up Wednesday by a sex scandal that claimed his CIA director. Or even the looming fiscal showdown that could plunge the economy into a recession.
What annoyed Obama more than anything was Republican attacks on United Nations Ambassador Susan Rice.
At a news conference meant to signal Obama understands voters are sick of Washington bickering, the president’s voice dripped with contempt over efforts by his 2008 Republican rival, Sen. John McCain, to blame Rice for the administration’s handling of the Benghazi killings.
“If Sen. McCain and Sen. [Lindsey] Graham and others want to go after somebody, they should go after me,” Obama said during his first news conference since Election Day. “And I’m happy to have that discussion with them. But for them to go after the U.N. ambassador, who had nothing to do with Benghazi and was simply making a presentation based on intelligence that she had received, and to besmirch her reputation is outrageous.”
It was the standout moment in an otherwise sedate meeting with the White House press corps. The usually calm, disciplined president gave way to the Obama who gets peeved at what he views as silly political games. And in doing so, Obama served up a blunt reminder that — despite his own words to the contrary — little about Washington has changed since he won a second term.