You've already seen White House spokesman Jay Carney's most serious error of the day, but that was hardly the only tense exchange he encountered. Carney tried to explain why he and the president still insist on conditionally condemning the IRS' actions, depending on "if" something inappropriate occurred. Reporters from the AP and CNN both pushed back, noting that the IRS has already acknowledged wrongdoing and apologized. Alas, it seems admissions of guilt still aren't sufficiently dispositive for our fact-finder in chief:
Later, NBC's Chuck Todd slammed Obama's doubletalk on a press shield law, which could have prevented the DOJ from secretly monitoring dozens of journalists' work and personal phone records for months. Obama said one thing as a Senator and a candidate, then reversed himself as president. Jay Carney tried to pin this on the Bush administration, natch (video available at the link):
Todd: You keep talking about then Sen .Obama supported a certain piece of legislation that, in fact, as president he killed that piece of legislation in October of 2009 — and made it so that the protections he supported, having judicial review … there was an opportunity to have this bill passed…and he said the White House had problems with it and he killed it.
Carney: First of all, you’re talking about separate pieces of legislation and a legislative history that bears a little more looking into. The president’s position on this is what it was as a senator. But the fact is I cannot then appropriately apply his support for that measure..
Todd: If he supported that piece of legislation, we wouldn’t be having this conversation today because he supported a judicial review that seemed to settle this –
Carney: And what happened to it in 2007?
Todd: I’m asking you what happen in 2009 when he was president of the United States.
At one point, a flummoxed Carney told Todd he could ask Obama about the issue at the next presidential press conference, whenever that might be. This from the official White House spokesman. You know it's a tough day when Carney takes a smirking shot at Fox News and is greeted with crickets. You know it's an even tougher day when Carney and Obama's performances get dumped on by...Robert Gibbs on MSNBC. "Exceedingly passive:"
Carney's marching orders today were to convey two primary messages: First, that Benghazi is a "circus" and "sideshow" motivated by partisanship. (One wonders what Patricia Smith and loyal Democrat Greg Hicks might have to say about that sneering accusation. Amb. Chris Stevens couldn't be reached for comment). Translation: Benghazi is the bogus "scandal," reporters, so let's clear the decks on that one. Never mind the new evidence of political manipulation, the administration's shifting story, and whistle-blowers' impactful sworn testimony. No, the whole controversy is just "a deliberate attempt to politicize a tragedy," Carney said, scolding those Americans who care about the truth. What a disgusting evasion. By the way, Carney went on to aver that the president is committed to "finding out who did it, finding out why, and taking the steps necessary" to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Doesn't Carney remember his own dismissive formulation that Benghazi "happened a long time ago"? The White House has been patting us on the head by talking about gathering all the facts and holding people accountable for eight months. During that time, there have been no arrests made, and no one has been fired. Can you imagine if eight months had passed after the Boston bombings without a single arrest? That attack was perpetrated by two men who killed three people; Benghazi was perpetrated by dozens of terrorists who killed four people, including our ambassador. The administration's official line on Benghazi ("we're blameless, you're crazy or partisan") is overtly political, callous, and insulting.
Second, as for the "real" scandals at the IRS and DOJ, the president didn't know anything, and it would be "wholly inappropriate" for him to comment further until all the facts are known. The best spin they have at their disposal is to argue that the President of the United States has to turn on the nightly news to find out what's happening the government he runs.