On Wednesday, a reporter asked Pentagon press secretary John Kirby what seemed like a simple query: “What would you say about Senator McCain’s assessment that the Islamic State is winning, and the U.S.-led coalition is not?” What followed, however, was a case study in how not to handle a loaded question.
“Well, I’m not gonna, um,” the rear admiral began haltingly. “I would just tell you that — uh — we believe — that — let me put it this way. It’s going to be a long fight. It’s going to be difficult. There’s going to be setbacks. There’s going to be wins and there’s going to be losses. We’re mindful of the complicated nature of this.”
Kirby went on equivocating for another two minutes, claiming he’s “not going to qualify who’s winning and who’s losing today,” that “you can’t judge a strategy based on a day, or a week, or even several weeks,” that “we’ve only been doing air strikes since August 8,” and that the Islamic State is “not getting a win everywhere.”
“So it’s a mixed picture, Phil,” he admitted. “I don’t mean to ramble, but it’s a mixed picture.”