Ryan, who had thought the invitation was "an olive branch," said afterwards "I can't believe you poisoned the well like that," and, later: "What we heard today was not fiscal leadership from our commander-in-chief; we heard a political broadside from our campaigner-in-chief."
The interview, revealed today, took place on July 11th, before Ryan was chosen for VP:
"I'll go ahead and say it – I think that I was not aware when I gave that speech that Jack Ryan was going to be sitting right there"...It's not clear whether "Jack Ryan" is in Obama's head, waiting to pop out inappropriately, because of the Tom Clancy character or because of the Illinois politician who was forced out of the U.S. Senate race with Obama after some divorce records were leaked. ("In those files, Jeri Ryan alleged that Jack Ryan had asked her to perform sexual acts with him in public in sex clubs in New York, New Orleans, and Paris. Jeri Ryan described one as 'a bizarre club with cages, whips and other apparatus hanging from the ceiling.'") Ryan was replaced by Alan Keyes, the man Obama beat to get the steppingstone from which he vaulted to the presidency. It isn't in Obama's present-day interest to send us back to the old Jack Ryan story:
"And so I did feel, in retrospect, had I known – we literally didn't know he was going to be there until – or I didn't know, until I arrived. I might have modified some of it so that we would leave more negotiations open, because I do think that they felt like we were trying to embarrass him," Obama continued. "We made a mistake."
Subsequent to his withdrawal from the U.S. Senate race in Illinois, Jack Ryan has characterized what happened to him as a "new low for politics in America." According to Ryan, it was unprecedented in American politics for a newspaper to sue for access to sealed custody documents. Ryan opposed unsealing the divorce records of Senator John Kerry during Kerry's race against George W. Bush in 2004, and Kerry's divorce records remained sealed. Ryan has made the following request: "let me be the only person this has happened to. Don’t ask for Ted Kennedy’s. Don’t ask for John McCain’s. Don’t ask for Joe Lieberman’s. Just stop. This is not a good precedent for American society if you really want the best and brightest to run."Now, back to Paul Ryan and Obama's berating him as he sat there in the front row for a speech about how to resolve the debt crisis. Oh, by the way, remember Bill Clinton's his much-praised DNC speech: "What works in the real world is cooperation..."
Los Angeles is getting green and Chicago is getting an infrastructure bank because Republicans and Democrats are working together to get it. They didn't check their brains at the door. They didn't stop disagreeing, but their purpose was to get something done.Clinton said "cooperation" 6 times. It was his biggest theme. (Some people think Clinton was mostly, really talking about himself — his own superiority to Obama.)
Now, why is this true? Why does cooperation work better than constant conflict?...
One of the main reasons we ought to re-elect President Obama is that he is still committed to constructive cooperation.
So there was Obama, in the midst of the debt crisis, making a major speech, and Ryan, the person he needed to cooperate with, was sitting in the front row, and Obama berated him, as if he were a Supreme Court Justice at a State of the Union speech. Now, if Obama were really the "constructive cooperation" guy Clinton made him out to be, he wouldn't have excoriated Ryan even if Ryan were not sitting there. But it's still interesting to try to figure out if Obama knew Ryan was there. Let's examine that quote. First:
"I'll go ahead and say it – I think that I was not aware when I gave that speech that Jack Ryan was going to be sitting right there"...I think that I was not aware.... Why the "I think" preference? He's deliberately framing his statement in memory, which makes me suspect that he did know and he's being careful to make it easy to say he misremembered if later there's any leak that says he was told or even that he planned to get Ryan there in front of him so he could lord the power of the presidency over him. (That's the technique he used on the Supreme Court.)
"And so I did feel, in retrospect, had I known – we literally didn't know he was going to be there until – or I didn't know, until I arrived..."So, then, he did see Ryan there. How can he deny that? Ryan sat in front. The plan was to have Ryan sitting with required passivity beneath the President.
"I might have modified some of it so that we would leave more negotiations open...."Obama speaks from a prepared text and is admitting or asserting that he has no capacity to adapt to a changed situation. (Unlike Clinton — I guess he is superior! — who freely ad-libbed half of his convention speech.)
But why is modification even a question? It was a major speech that related to Paul Ryan whether Ryan was there or not. Obviously, Ryan would hear about it, whether he heard it in real time or not. And even if he wouldn't hear, what kind of ethics are you displaying to say one thing to someone's face and another behind his back?
".... because I do think that they felt like we were trying to embarrass him...."The concern is for how others interpreted it (not for what he actually did), for how that affected his ability to achieve what he wanted to achieve through getting them to give in to him, and the relevant concept is embarrassment, a prissy little emotion, embarrassment for Ryan, rather than his own intent to humiliate.