WaPo Pity Party: Graphic Teases 'Obama's Disastrous Week,' 'Carney's Tough Day'

May 15th, 2013 10:57 AM

It's just so unfortunate that such nice guys are going through such trying circumstances.

That's the impression one gets from graphic teases seen at about 9:30 this morning at the Washington Post, where the captions underneath the three left thumbnails read as follows: "President Obama’s disastrous political week"; "Jay Carney’s tough day"; and "Jay Carney’s day — in 7 faces." If you don't recall such an obvious outward show of sympathy during the final year of George W. Bush's presidency, you're not alone. A quick look at the underlying items follows the jump.

Chris Cillizza's "President Obama’s disastrous political week" entry at the paper's "The Fix" blog tells us what most people should have known already about this administration's true nature, and is downright hysterical in identifying just one legislative priority Obama has (bolds and numbered tags are mine throughout this post):

It’s only Tuesday. But President Obama is already in the midst of one of the worst weeks, politically speaking, of his presidency — besieged by an burgeoning scandal at the Internal Revenue Service, revelations that the Justice Department secretly obtained phone records of reporters at the Associated Press and ongoing Republican criticism over the terrorist attack in Benghazi last fall.

Any one of those stories would be enough to knock an Administration back on its heels. All three — and with the IRS and AP stories coming in rapid succession over the past 96 hours — threaten to permanently derail Obama’s plans to fortify his presidential legacy in the first 18 months of his second term.

... The practical problems are obvious. Congress is already ramping up its investigative operation; Politico reported this morning that approximately one-third of all House committees are looking into some aspect of the Obama Administration.

... With Congress tied up in investigating the IRS, the AP and Benghazi — and with the national media covering all three — the time for Obama’s legislative priorities (climate change etc.) are significantly reduced. [1] Can Congress walk and chew gum at the same time? Sure. But they don’t usually do it — particularly when one party sees significant political advantage in not walking to instead focus all of their time on chewing gum.

... The symbolic problems are less readily apparent but potentially far more damaging in the long term.

Remember that President Obama was elected in 2008 in no small part because of his pledge to be the anti-George W. Bush. That is, prizing competence over all in governance and putting a premium on transparency. And both of those pillars are undermined by developments in the past four days. [2]

There’s simply no escaping the fact that the IRS’ targeting of conservative groups (without any similar flagging of liberal groups) happened on President Obama’s watch. That he learned of the scandal from news reports on Friday despite the fact that senior officials at the IRS were aware of it as far back as 2011 makes it worse, not better as it relates to Obama’s pledge to restore competence across all aspects of the government. [3]

... the timing of the revelations coupled with the fact that each of them not only plays into a broader storyline about this presidency but also threatens to undermine key promises made by Obama when he was elected make this week a terrible, horrible, no-good, very bad one for him.


[1] -- Cimate change? Where did that come from as the only item mentioned? I'll tell you where it probably came. Obama's "independent not-for-profit" Organizing for Action has been sending out emails during the past week ridiculing Republicans like House Speaker John Boehner for having the unmitigated gall not to bow down to "climate change." It would appear that Cillizza is a useful receptable for and relayer of OFA's talking points.

[2] -- Anyone who really thinks that competence and transparency were "pillars" of the Obama administration before the latest scandal wave is either delusional, a member of the national establishment press -- or both.

[3] -- Finally, Cillizza gets something right. If Obama didn't know anything about this, it either means that he's made it clear that he doesn't want to be bothered with such things or that his people are afraid to deliver bad news to him. Neither is a hallmark of competent management.

David Nakamura, in "Jay Carney's tough day," was unduly sympathetic:

... On the trail of a pair of juicy stories of government overreach, the press corps let Carney have it during his daily briefing, pounding him with a barrage of more than 60 questions about reports that the Internal Revenue Service inappropriately targeted conservative groups and that the Justice Department secretly obtained private phone records of the Associated Press.

Over and over, reporters pressed the spokesman to explain what the administration knew about the two unfolding scandals, and time and again Carney found himself on the defensive against a wounded pack of reporters eager to look out for their own.

“President Obama’s being compared to President Nixon on this,” asked Jeff Mason of Reuters, a rival to the AP. “How does he feel about that?”

“I don’t have a reaction from President Obama,” Carney responded. “I can tell you that the people who make those kind of comparisons need to check their history.”

CNN’s Jessica Yellin pushed backed: “Jay, you say check our history… but you have to understand and hear how it sounds like the administration might be hiding something.”

It was that kind of afternoon for the former Time magazine White House correspondent, who, in the face of deep skepticism, continued to assert that Obama is committed to robust investigative journalism that is unobstructed by the government. Carney used the word “unfettered” a dozen times in his insistence that Obama believes in an open press.

It's not "deep skepticism," David. It's a certainty that Obama has no such commitment.

"Carney's Day -- in 7 Faces" is merely a series of photos, captioned "troubled," "grim," "more in sadness than anger," "thoughtful," "bemused," "stern," and "um...," respectively.

I don't recall Scott McClellan, probably the worst press secretary ever before Robert Gibbs and Carney came along, receiving any such press sympathy.

Cross-posted at BizzyBlog.com.