The Corner

Dice Are Rolling, Knives Are Still Out

. . . for my former Time colleague, Jay Carney, whose attempt to handle the White House’s constantly shifting stories about the death of Osama bin Laden and overall job performance is meeting with derision from the press corps. Here’s Toby Young in the Telegraph:

There is increasing concern in Washington that Jay Carney, the new White House Press Secretary, isn’t up to the job. Even when faced with an innocuous question that requires only that he trot out the official line, he looks completely stunned, as if the questioner is Bob Woodward asking him about Deep Throat. He gathers himself, embarks on a stuttering reply, pauses for what seems like an eternity, then starts gabbling, tripping over his words, rephrasing what he’s just said, then looking plaintively back at the questioner as if to say, “How did I do? Was that okay? Or would you like me to try again?”

“I think he’s doing very badly,” says a political contact based in Washington. “And I’ve heard others say that he’s really struggling.”

I read recently that Jay is not getting the face time with Obama that Gibbs routinely had, which may in part explain his struggles. Plus he was always a newsman and never a flack. But the general level of confusion at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. also seems to be quite high. As Jim Treacher put it yesterday: “Obama administration takes victory lap in clown car.” That’s a tough environment in which to try and do your job.

“The White House’s handling of the media in the aftermath of Sunday’s events has been breathtakingly amateurish, planting seeds of doubt about the legality of the operation and about Osama bin Laden’s death that would not otherwise be there. The constantly changing narrative – or “fact pattern”, as one White House official described it – suggests that the president and his advisers have been caught on the hop and have no clear strategy for dealing with the fallout from bin Laden’s death. This is epitomised by the halting, timid delivery of Jay – “How’m I doin’?” – Carney, who must bear some of the responsibility for this communications failure. . . .

Unless Carney is capable of raising his game, he needs to be thrown under a bus. 

I feel sorry for Jay, who’s a good man and a fine reporter. But when you hitch your wagon to as fleeting a star as Barack Hussein Obama II, don’t be surprised when your wagon’s wheels come off and under the bus you go. The only rationale for the Obama presidency is that Barry wanted to be president because he couldn’t think of anything else to do that would pay so much and take so little effort on his part.

And now, God help us, he wants to be president again.

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