Obama’s Prime Minister’s Questions

Obama’s Prime Minister’s Questions

Former British Prime Minister Tony Blair was often magisterial during Prime Minister’s Questions, when, as the head of the Labour Party, he would face off against a respectful Tory political adversary, rebutting and opining and arguing and deploying wit before Parliament and the British public.

Today, not so much. Blair faced the Chilcot Inquiry, intense questioning over Britain’s decision to partner with the George W. Bush administration and invade Iraq in 2003. The Guardian’s Jackie Ashley writes:

The body language said it all. Tony Blair began his day at the Chilcot inquiry visibly strained, even shaking, according to one television channel, which focused on his hands. There was none of the easy charm that we remember from his days as prime minister and he meekly accepted the constant interruptions from the panel, who started off determined not let him drone on for too long.

Across the pond, Barack Obama unexpectedly held his own version of PMQ. During a planned visit to a Republican retreat in Baltimore, Obama not only addressed the assembled members of the House, but answered questions — and it got feisty. Here’s one exchange Obama had with Rep. Jeb Hensarling of Texas.

OBAMA: Jim (sic), I know there’s a question in there somewhere, because you’re making a whole bunch of assertions, half of which I disagree with. [LAUGHTER] And I’m having to sit here listening to them. At some point, I know you’re going to let me answer….

HENSARLING: That’s the question.

You are soon to submit a new budget, Mr. President. Will that new budget, like your old budget, triple the national debt and continue to take us down the path of increasing the cost of government to almost 25 percent of our economy? That’s the question, Mr. President.

OBAMA: All right. Jim (sic), with all due respect, I’ve just got to take this last question as an example of how it’s very hard to have the kind of bipartisan work that we’re going to do, because the whole question was structured as a talking point for running — running a campaign.

The full video is here and the transcript here — and it’s worth watching and/or reading.