As of now, I am in control here, in the White House

Jay Carney Hits it Out of the Park

Well, the White House sure knew what it was doing.

In his debut performance from the White House briefing room podium, Jay Carney sounded like he’d been press secretary for about six years.

He was smooth and unruffled – not that most of the questions were of the caliber that might ruffle. He threw in a little bit of humor. He spoke briskly and in complete sentences. He did well on his feet when confronted with questions he probably didn’t prepare for.

Here he comes. Carney enters to brief for the first time. Photo by Keith Koffler

And – this is most important – he didn’t make any news he didn’t want to make. That is, he responded to questions, but didn’t necessarily answer them.

Carney was a long-time Washington journalist before entering the PR game only two years ago as Vice President Biden’s chief spokesman. But one highly placed source has told me that Carney was recently disassembled at a press secretary factory in Bridgeport, Conn., and put back together with the proper parts and technology included.

Well, at the very least, he appears to have digested and perfected the lines he heard so, so many times from the flacks he had to deal with all those years he was a reporter.

Asked for a specific time period for getting entitlement reform done, he said, “I think this is a process.”

Asked which business executives Obama will meet with tomorrow during a visit to the West Coast, he offered the classic “We’ll release a list when we have it to give it to you.”

He had at the ready the standard “I’m not going to negotiate from the podium” when queried about specifics of Obama’s views on Social Security and spending cuts.

Jay Carney
Carney smoothly bats away another question. Photo by Keith Koffler

He hauled out a classic from former Press Secretary Robert Gibbs when things got into too much detail on the deficit: “I’m not an economist.”

He punted to other agencies, so that they could refuse to answer off camera, referring questioners to OMB, the State Department, and the Department of Transportation.

He remembered to blame Bush for stuff: “I also remind you that we inherited – when this administration came into office, this president came into office in enormous debt that had been piled up in the previous eight years, and that is part of the problem.”

When asked about President Obama’s statement that Social Security talks should be done in private even though during the campaign Obama seemed to think – specifically on health care – that this type of negotiation should be handled in the light of day on C-Span, Carney improvised.

“I don’t think the president said that every discussion about entitlement reform would be held in private.”

If he didn’t like a question, he answered one he would have preferred but didn’t get. Asked if Obama was going to politicize this spending debate, he replied, “It needs to be civil and it needs to be reasonable.” Which of course doesn’t rule out political. No one pressed him.

The only mistake was on a question about CBS News reporter Lara Logan’s brutal rape in Egypt. He should have done a lot, lot better than this.

As you know, during those events, the 18 days, the President made clear that our position was violence was unacceptable, and that — specifically harassment, detention — violence against journalists was unacceptable, and that the perpetrators of violence needed to be held accountable.  And that remains our position.

Carney and whoever helped him prepare this statement ought to be ashamed. If it was off the cuff, then Carney needs to learn to project some compassion and outrage.

But overall, as a professional matter, an excellent performance. Carney was under extreme pressure, and he pulled through. Even made it look easy.

In terms of a breakthrough for the kind of openness Obama once promised, not so excellent. Several reporters afterward seemed a little spooked that they wouldn’t be any more able to pry open this locked box of information than they were the last one.

“Same answers, different guy,” remarked one.

I’m sure the White House could not be more pleased.

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17 Responses to Jay Carney Hits it Out of the Park

  1. Keith, good take on Carney’s obvious lack of compassion.

    I wonder what the family of Lara Logan must be feeling right now; for heaven’s sakes she was raped (in the open) in Tahrir Square, by practioners of the Religion of Peace. I understand political correctness, but Carney would not even show a molecule of compassion for his fellow journalist.

    I wonder what the family of SA Zapata must be feeling. All they got from Carney (and by proxy, Obama) was a blandly read statement after this man gave his life defending our borders from Narco-terrorists.

  2. “Same answers, different guy.”

    You ain’t kidding, Mr. Press Guy.

    My other thoughts were, “What’s the purpose of these things again? Is anything of substance ever said? Or is it always just a bunch of half-answers, side-steps, and blow-offs? At least Gibbs always seemed to bring an air of douche-baggery to the podium to flavor things up a bit.”

    Seriously though – how do you have the patience to sit through this stuff? At least it must be easy to take notes.

    It kind of reminds me of when pro athletes are interviewed following big games, and they always come out with the that standard phrases, “We worked hard this week, we put it together, we got it done. I praise God, and credit my team members – great group of guys. Now we just gotta focus on next week’s game, have some good practices and keep doing what we’re doing.” How refreshing would it be for one of these guys just to come out and say, “Yeah, we kicked some ass, but so would you if you were amped up on steroids and got paid obsene money to run around and throw a ball. Now I’m going to hit up the strip clubs, have random sex, maybe watch some dogfighting, and then drive back here to practice in a few days in my Escalade and do it all over again. Suckas.”

    • LOL, Megan.

      You’re pretty much on target. But for me, the purpose of these briefings is to try to hold the WH accountable by at least asking the questions. They won’t answer directly at the briefing, but if they get concerned they are being held accountable for BS, they might adjust things. Sometimes you can get them into a corner and make it clear for the world that there’s no real defense. So while they can spin away, Americans are smart and at least get a chance to see when they are being fed nonsense.

      • so true…i really do think that they more the admin talks, the more people hear the BS, and the more they turn against it. i like to think that the silver lining of this admin is that people who never really cared or paid attention before are now caring and paying attention – and they don’t like what they see. for as bad as things are, it’s like it’s breathed new life into the average american citizen. or maybe that’s just a projection of my own experience.

        hope i didn’t offend with my joke about patience and taking notes…i re-read it and realized it could be perceived as a an insult to you -TOTALLY not my intention. i try to reserve all my best insults on the WH. i’m sure it crushes their feelings.

  3. This WH, probably more than others, is ‘extreme.’ Therefore the need to keep these freaks Richard’s nailed to the board at all times is vitally necessary especially while our freedoms are being “walked back.”

    No one seems to realize that Barack H. Obama is not a Democrat. He is not a liberal. He is a well-dressed Fascist. You may reject that term, but thats what he is. He is, technically, a well-dressed modern SS Obersturmbannfuhrer, with impeccable eating tastes and the ability to play midnight b-ball. He can carry on a conversation in any company of elites and walk on the global stage. But he’s still an extremist, a bigot, and worse, an anti-Semite. Had this man been born in ’05 of German stock, he would have been a shoe-in for Reinhard Heydrich’s inner circle.

    • Just in case you needed some “evidence” that our President is no friend of Israel and in the pocket of pan-Arab Islamic extremists, this just popped up on Drudge:

      USA to Rebuke Israel at UN
      http://turtlebay.foreignpolicy.com/posts/2011/02/16/in_major_reversal_us_to_rebuke_israel_in_security_council

      This has not only President Obama’s fingerprints on it, but that of our anti-Semitic State Department (thanks Jim Baker) who have helped turn the press and our nation away from supporting the State of Israel, Judaism and Holocaust Survivors.

      If I were Netanyahu, I would make a stand and call Obama on it. He won’t do it; there are too many anti-Semites in the U.S. Government arrayed against him. But if there is any evidence that the “thing” in the White House is an African-American Nazi, this is it.

      President Obama joins the Grand Mufti (a helferin of the Nazi Party during the Second World, who helped raise 2 Muslim SS Divisions that raped and murdered across Yugoslavia) and the liberals favorite pedophile-terrorist Yassir Arafat as the only two men who stood up in the U.N. who railed against Judaism, Jews, (and in Arafat’s case) the State of Israel.

      Like my Dad used to say, “.. no good. Nothing but filfth.”

  4. Sorry for bogarting this post; I should add this:

    “I will stand with the Muslims should the political winds shift in an ugly direction.”

    – Barack Hussein Obama

      • It is pretty clear the WH has now thrown its lot in with the pan-Arab Islamic extremists on this issue. Everyone knows that Israel has a *right* to build in so-called “territory” in “Palestinian areas.” It is Israel; it was won in the Sixth Day War against Jordan – even King Hussein understood the issue. Not Obama. He has sided with Hezbollah, Hamas, FATAH, and every extreme Islamic government in the Middle East. And, in effect, joined the cause celeb against the Jewish State.

        Then again, Arafat stated:

        “… in the end, the Middle East will be judenrein [ jew free ] when an American president joins us, when other Arab governments join us, when there is unity, In’shallah [ God willing ].”

        Note also where this story sits on Daily Caller and The Blaze —– and CNN, ABC and the rest of the MSM —- down at the bottom. There is a significant amount of Republican anti-Semitism as well, so I am sure, unless an editor takes time to pull it to the top and make it major story, it will remain a second tier news item.

        Once the American Jewish community STAND UP and protest Obama at every appearance, nothing will happen. It is time for Jews and Christians to protest this anti-Semite and stand firm for Israel and Jewish Holocaust Suriviors. It is time for the signs to come out and to TAKE A STAND AGAINST bigotry, hatred, racism and anti-Semitism.

        Years ago, for a university history paper, I interviewed an Auschwitz surivivor. He told me:

        “You MUST stand up against anti-Semitism. You CANNOT be silent. When I die, and other surivivors die, G-d willing, stand with us in spirit [ Tom ] and speak out, stand up, protest …. dont let them take us again.”