An Open And Shut Case

Mark Knoller is a White House Correspondent for CBS News.
After angry remarks directed at the democratic Congress, President Bush ignored a reporter's question and walked out of the Roosevelt Room – pulling the door shut behind him.

It sounded like a slam, but Press Secretary Dana Perino insists it was not.

"In order to get it closed, you have to push it hard or it will open back up," she said in an e-mailed response to a question from CBS News.

"It was NOTHING," she said – and she spelled that last word in capital letters.

But there's no denying President Bush's words reflected his considerable irritation with Congress – especially its Democratic leaders:
--He blasted the House for its vote yesterday approving another S-CHIP bill that he said "costs more over the next five years than the one I vetoed three weeks ago."

--He lambasted the income tax plan put foward yesterday by House Ways and Means Committee Chairman Charles Rangel, D-NY., because it "raises taxes on more than a million small business owners, among others."

-He excoriated the Water Resources measure Congress sent him this week, calling it "fiscally irresponsible." He tried to make the House and Senate look foolish and spendthrift.

"The House version came in at $15 billion. The Senate version came in at $14 billion. So the House and Senate compromised –- and sent me a bill that costs $23 billion. In Washington, they call that "splitting the difference."

-And with his eye on the calendar, he accused Congress of failing to meet its budget obligations by pointing out that this is the 26th day of the new fiscal year, and he has yet to receive a single appropriations bill to sign. On this score, he said it's the worst performance by Congress in 20 years.

-With the moratorium on Internet taxes about to expire, he upbraided Congress for failing to extend it, much less make it permanent.

-He accused the Senate of dragging its feet on his nomination of Judge Michael Mukasey to be the next Attorney General

-And he scolded Congress for not yet acting on the supplemental funding bill for US military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan "even though our troops on the front lines depend on these vital funds."
So if Mr. Bush had slammed the door in leaving the Roosevelt Room, it would have served as an exclamation point to his rebuke of Congress.

But we're told he did no such thing.

Author's Note: After this was posted, White House Press Secretary Dana Perino wrote to tell me that President Bush "wasn't angry today." She said "he's not an angry person in general, and isn't angry at Congress." "Disappointed, yes – but not angry," she said. I pointed out that I wrote that the President's words were angry, but she didn't think that was the case either. M.K.

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    Mark Knoller is a CBS News White House correspondent.

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