I gotta give Josh credit for this one. He was wobbling on a high wire as Ed Henry of Fox News shot spitballs at him, but he managed to find his footing and make it across.
Ed had a question for White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest. A question no press secretary would wish for:
HENRY: Is preventing a genocide in America’s core interests?
EARNEST: Uh, well . . .
Oh boy, that’s a good one. No easy escape. Probably thought of it in the Fox news booth downstairs.
Let’s look at Josh’s options here.
Answer “no,” or anything that sounds like “no,” and you and your boss are THE WORST PEOPLE IN THE WORLD.
What? You like genocide? OMG.
Now, answer “yes,” and Josh is establishing a whole new policy from the podium, a big press secretary faux pas. And then suddenly, everybody’s having a genocide. Yo, America come help us out of this genocide. Send your best ground troops, right away.
Watch the video below. At first, Josh has no idea what to say. He’s thinking as he’s talking, and desperately trying to drop words into some kind of order that will make sense, but not policy.
And then, Ed makes a tactical mistake, asking the same question in a particularly long-winded manner. This gives Josh time to think, and he finds a good formulation. Though he botches the phrasing – too much adrenaline going from the near-death experience – the point he makes is artful and valid.
While the United States, he says, “cannot abide” the killing of people because of who they are . . .
. . . the question is what, and how, the United States can intervene to mitigate that situation. And those kinds of decisions are the kinds of decisions that are made on a case by case basis.
More bluntly put, it depends on the situation and what we, as a practical matter, can do about it.
Right. We’d like to save everyone, because we’re Americans. But we can’t.