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Why Obama’s White House Is Not Like An Episode of 'The West Wing'

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Real-life Washington is not like the television show The West Wing, no matter how much people wish it was. White House press secretary Jay Carney learned that today.

President Obama has been criticized lately for what some say is lack of outreach to members of Congress and was pressed on that issue at a news conference on Monday. He said he would be happy to have lawmakers over to the White House to play cards or socialize, but added that he didn’t think that would help with the negotiation process over the debt ceiling.

So, when a reporter for CNN asked Carney at Tuesday's press briefing if Obama would pay a visit to Capitol Hill, Carney snapped back with a reference to Washington’s favorite fictional presidency.

The reporter, challenging Carney on the debt-ceiling negotiations, said, “I know you all chafe at this, but the president is not always very fond of working phones, going up there and....”

“Going up there? Because there’s such a long history of presidents going up there?” Carney snapped back. “I think that’s in a television program, but go on.”

Confused members of the press corps asked what he meant.

West Wing,” he said.

The journalists didn't seem amused. “We’re not going to indulge your West Wing fantasies,” one reporter said.

Although journalists and politicians alike wish Washington could sometimes run like the popular Aaron Sorkin hit, it doesn’t look like Obama will be taking any walks up to the Hill, as President Jed Bartlet once did.

Matt Vasiligambros

Matt Vasilogambros is a policy writer for National Journal, covering foreign affairs, the White House and Congress. He previously covered the 2012 presidential election and other federal elections for the National Journal and The Hotline. Before joining the company, Matt covered politics for PoliticsDaily.com, the Iowa Independent and the Huffington Post. Matt is a graduate of Drake University, where he served as editor-in-chief of the award-winning student newspaper. He is a native of Arlington Heights, Ill.

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