Once upon a time, the White Press Corps was dedicated to scrutinizing the decisions of the White House. What is the foundational basis of policy decisions? How does the president respond to the the loyal opposition's latest criticism? How will it affect the president's political standing?
But that was all before gigantic plumes of BP's oil started filling the Gulf of Mexico. Now we're faced with a gigantic problem that has thus far proven resistant to the best efforts of decision-makers. So what's left to do? WE MUST HAVE A CHRONICLE OF THE PRESIDENT'S EMOTIONAL STATE, FOR POSTERITY.
David Brooks summed up the needs of the Beltway media, like so:
They demand that he hold press conferences, show leadership, announce that the buck stops here and do something. They want him to emote and perform the proper theatrical gestures so they can see their emotions enacted on the public stage.
The media must capture the full panoply of presidential emo and put it on their teevees, for the ratings! And the best part of it is that no amount of emotion, of raging, of garment rending, will ever be enough. As Greg Sargent dryly notes: "The real point is that this standard isn't designed to be met."
But they will try, all the same, and yesterday your White House Press Corps went head-to-head with White House Press Secretary Robert Gibbs in a brief scene I shall entitle, "Aye, Verily, I've Seen Rage From Him, Chip."
Q You said earlier that the President is enraged. Is he enraged at BP specifically?
MR. GIBBS: I think he's enraged at the time that it's taken, yes. I think he's been enraged over the course of this, as I've discussed, about the fact that when you're told something is fail-safe and it clearly isn't, that that's the cause for quite a bit of frustration. I think one of the reasons that -- which is one of the reasons you heard him discuss the setting up of the oil commission in order to create a regulatory framework that ensures something like this doesn't happen again.
Q Frustration and rage are very different emotions, though. I haven't -- have we really seen rage from the President on this? I think most people would say no.
MR. GIBBS: I've seen rage from him, Chip. I have.
Q Can you describe it? Does he yell and scream? What does he do? (Laughter.)
MR. GIBBS: He said -- he has been in a whole bunch of different meetings -- clenched jaw -- even in the midst of these briefings, saying everything has to be done. I think this was an anecdote shared last week, to plug the damn hole.
Let your imaginations run wild, and then make sure your Klonopin prescription is filled!
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