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White House Botches Schwarzkopf Statement

The White House Thursday botched a written statement honoring the 1991 Gulf War hero General Norman Schwarzkopf, having to upgrade it from a “statement by the press secretary” to one by the president.

Schwarzkopf died Thursday in Tampa at the age of 78.

While the nation and the Schwarzkopf family were surely gratified to have Jay Carney honor General Schwarzkopf on their behalf, someone in the White House with a decent sense of history – or just a decent sense of propriety – must have belatedly realized that the man who cleared Saddam Hussein out of Kuwait and gave the United States victory in war deserved a mention by the president.

Here’s how the initial statement looked, sent by the White House at 9:45 pm ET Thursday night:

Statement by the Press Secretary on the Passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf

With the passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf, we’ve lost an American original. From his decorated service in Vietnam to the historic liberation of Kuwait and his leadership of United States Central Command, General Schwarzkopf stood tall for the country and Army he loved. Our prayers are with the Schwarzkopf family, who tonight can know that his legacy will endure in a nation that is more secure because of his patriotic service.

An hour later, a “corrected” version of the statement was dispatched, identical to the first except for this:

Statement from the President on the Passing of General Norman Schwarzkopf

The issuance of statements out of the White House is normally done carefully but is not rocket science: the important stuff is attributed to the president, the minor stuff to the press secretary. Staff probably writes most of the statements, and it’s unlikely that the president even sees all of the messages crafted for him.