What is going on with the President’s main mouthpiece?
A column in The Washington Post relates that, since the beginning of March, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has found a new tactic for handling any press corps questions that aspire to any semblance of incisiveness: The petulant PR hack simply tells reporters they don’t know how to ask questions.
Over the past two weeks, the report notes, Carney has done the following:
- Told the AP’s Jim Kuhnhenn he was “misrepresenting the group” when asked whether President Barack Obama’s new, friendlier approach to the press was ill-timed to coincide with the President’s recent address to Organizing For Action, the Democrat-affiliated social welfare program that’s evolved from Obama’s first-term campaign.
- Told veteran NPR correspondent Mara Liasson that her question on the President’s forthcoming budget “makes me think that you’re still working on a typewriter or something.”
- Told Ann Compton of ABC News that she didn’t possess an adequate understanding of why the President had met with Congressional delegates last week.
- Told Bill Plante of CBS News: “Bill, how long have you been covering Washington? Has there ever been a Presidential budget that was enacted, word for word, into law?” Plante, who’s been with CBS since 1964, had deigned to ask when the President would come forward with a budget — not exactly a shot across the bow.
- Another reporter interrupted to point out that the President never times his budget proposal to follow the House and Senate versions. “Well, I disagree with that,” Carney said.
A McClatchy poll and analysis this week ties the President’s evaporating approval rating to the drying up of his political capital. That’s a reasonable conclusion.
The still-young first year of Obama’s second term has so far seen the President outrage gun owners and local governments who still value the 2nd Amendment; lie about who’s responsible for sequestration, the severity of its effects, and his own role in artificially and selectively emphasizing the “pain” of all the spending cutbacks; and get a good, old-fashioned humiliatin’ — hemming and hawing over his Administration’s drone policy while Rand Paul emerged as a strengthening voice to challenge liberals from the right.
It’s been a rough go for the President. Tuesday saw yet another attempt at analyzing where the President’s PR strategy is headed, with the National Journal opining that Obama’s dwindling political clout is forcing him — at least for the moment — to abandon one the sacred Saul Alinsky tactics to which he’s adhered through four years of obfuscation and intellectually bankrupt doublespeak: “Ridicule is man’s most potent weapon.” In its place is a supposedly kinder, gentler Obama Administration; one that courts Republicans — or at least RINO Republicans — and purports to give the beleaguered White House press corps more access.
But the President’s ivory-tower condescension has had its trickle-down effect, and staffers don’t just unlearn their long-taught instincts.
Just ask Carney, and then prepare to duck.