President Obama said as late as October 2013 that Iran was a year or more away from “breaking out” to a nuclear weapon, an assertion that contrasted with actual administration assessments that Iran was in fact just two to three months away from the bomb, according to Bloomberg.
White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest Tuesday declined to offer a definitive response to the story, saying he hadn’t read it – even though it had been published nearly seven hours before the start of the briefing. Not reading the story would give Earnest the excuse, which he used during the briefing, that he needed to take a look at the piece before giving a detailed answer.
Obama is traveling Wednesday and so Earnest can avoid answering questions about the story on camera at the White House, since there is no briefing when Obama travels.
Earnest, while dodging most of the questions, did say that Obama’s statements are based on the information he has. He of course didn’t admit Obama had deceived anyone.
In the Bloomberg piece, author Eli Lake posits a reason for the changing estimate. When Obama said in 2013 that the breakout time was more than a year, he was trying to get skeptics, including the Israelis, to give him more time to reach a deal with Iran. But now the “two or three months” timeframe is being used to create a sense urgency around approving a nuclear deal with Iran that is almost complete.
Unless “two or three months” is itself misleading or no longer operative, of course.
I’m not sure why State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf became a spokeswoman.
She’s certainly an intelligent young woman – and opinionated, self-righteous, and condescending, as any good young liberal should be. Fine, at least she has some sizzle. State Department briefings have previously been legendary for their watching-paint-dry excitement.
But a spokesperson really has to be able to take themselves out of the equation. You are speaking for someone else, after all. And while it’s fine to inject some personality into your briefings and remarks, you really have to resist the temptation to give your own opinions and react to reporters in ways that can undermine your message. And that, Marie Harf cannot do.
The Clinton campaign has scheduled surgery at Mount Sinai Hospital in New York to try to remove some of Mrs. Clinton’s Mmm Hmm’s. During surgery, doctors will attempt to install some artificial “Yups” and “You don’t says.”
10:00 am || Receives the Presidential Daily Briefing 11:40 am || Tapes an interview with Chris Matthews; Fairfax, Virginia 2:40 pm || Welcomes Kevin Harvick and his Stewart-Haas Racing team members to the White House to honor his 2014 NASCAR Sprint Cup Series championship 4:25 pm || Meets with Secretary of Defense Carter 5:15 pm || Holds a reception for supporters of H.R. 2, the Medicare Access and CHIP Reauthorization Act of 2015; Rose Garden
All times Eastern Live Stream of White House briefing at 12:30 pm
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