White House Press Secretary Jay Carney went into full fake foot stomping mode at Wednesday’s briefing, claiming to be offended “on behalf of my wife and my daughter” at a question posed by . . . wait for it . . . Ed Henry of Fox News. He then proceeded to promote a 2009 book by his wife, ABC’s Claire Shipman, called “Womenomics.”
Henry asked a rather benign and unextraordinary question about whether the White House was promoting policy for political effect, particularly the White House’s own emphasis Wednesday on women in the economy.
Women often trend Democratic and Democrats desperately need to get their base to the polls in November.
What? Politics in Washington? The nerve of Henry! Carney immediately rallied to the defense of his wife and daughter in response to Henry’s One Man War on Women.
Here’s the exchange:
Q Jay, this focus today — women in the economy, minimum wage, overtime, pay increases as well — all important policy areas as was discussed at the top. But will you also acknowledge these are also issues that test pretty well in an election year and that are a lot better to focus on than, say, the health care numbers from yesterday?
MR. CARNEY: Ed, are you saying that we should have done this in 2012 because our margin with women wasn’t big enough?
Q Your margin was pretty strong, so that might help you again in the midterms.
MR. CARNEY: These are the right things to do for the economy. No, Ed.
Q So this has nothing to do with the midterms?
MR. CARNEY: You know what, I think every woman in here ought to be offended by that. I’m offended by it on behalf of my wife and my daughter. It’s crazy.
Q Major asked about the over — I thought when Major asked about the overtime issue and if you increased can you show that that will help women, and Betsey said, well, we’re studying that. Is there a specific tie-in?
MR. CARNEY: The overtime — altering and modernizing the rules regarding overtime is the right thing to do for the whole economy. And she was asked if that disproportionately affects women in the way that raising the minimum wage does.
Q — numbers on it.
MR. CARNEY: What’s that?
Q Just that they run numbers on it —
MR. CARNEY: And I don’t think that assessment has been done. It’s certainly the right thing to do regardless. The assessments that have been done related to the minimum wage is that women would be affected more than men because women tend to have minimum wage jobs, as I understand it, not an economist, in greater number than men do.
But here’s the point — and I mentioned my wife’s book on this — I mean, there is a macroeconomic benefit to making sure —
This drew a bemused uproar in the briefing room, with reporters shouting out questions ironically to milk forward this obvious plug:
Q What book?
MR. CARNEY: “Womenomics.”
Q What’s the title of it?
MR. CARNEY: “Womenomics.” (Laughter.)
Q Is it available on Amazon?
MR. CARNEY: Amazon. It came out in 2009. It might have been on the New York Times Bestseller list.
Carney then continued his discussion with Henry:
No, but I’m only saying this because I happen to know, because of that, a little bit about this subject — that there are bottom line benefits to making sure that the private and the public sector make sure that the rules of the road, if you will, when it comes to our economy, work for women because doing that is not just the right thing to do, it’s economically beneficial. It helps the bottom line. It helps the country’s bottom line and it helps the private sector bottom line.
So, again, I didn’t mean to jump on you. But this is not about — this is good for the economy.
MR. CARNEY: Well, maybe. Well, it’s good for the economy, I promise you.
Q And your wife is wonderful, a very nice person.
Of course he meant to jump on Ed. That was the whole point.
Claire is indeed a nice person. But mentioning her book from the podium is a mistake. It also fits with something Carney tends to do that I’ve rarely seen among press secretaries, which is to frequently personalize issues and speak for himself. Press secretaries normally speak solely for the president.