Pundit's Perspectives – Tue 12 Jun, 2012

Courtesy of The Washington Post

Pile Up at the White House

By: Dana Milbank

This editorial appeared in The Washington Post as indicated below. It has been reprinted in its

entirety and full credit is given to The Washington Post and the author Dana Milbank.


By , Published: June 11

It has been a Junius Horribilis for President Obama.

Job growth has stalled, the Democrats have been humiliated in Wisconsin, the attorney general is facing a contempt-of-Congress citation, talks with Pakistan have broken down, Bill Clinton is contradicting Obama, Mitt Romney is outraising him, Democrats and Republicans alike are complaining about a “cascade” of national-security leaks from his administration, and he is now on record as saying that the


Could it get any worse?

Early Monday morning, Obama learned that it could. His aides delivered the news to him that his commerce secretary had been cited for a felony hit-and-run after allegedly crashing his car three times over the weekend. In one incident, the previously obscure Cabinet officer apparently rear-ended a Buick, spoke to the car’s occupants, then hit the vehicle again as he left.

Thus did Jay Carney, the oft-besieged White House press secretary, have another briefing carjacked by bad news. And Carney, who either didn’t know the details of the bizarre episode or wasn’t at liberty to divulge them, had to execute a full range of defensive maneuvers.

“I can simply tell you that he was engaged, as has been reported, in a couple of traffic incidents,” Carney began, as if the secretary, John Bryson, had been photographed by a speed camera or two. Bryson “suffered a seizure, was hospitalized. But beyond that I’ll refer you to Commerce for the details.”

“Is the secretary healthy and fit to serve?” inquired Ben Feller of the Associated Press.

“I would refer you to the Commerce Department.”

Ann Compton of ABC News asked whether the White House chief of staff, who spoke to Bryson, considers the incident serious.

“I don’t have a specific response to give you,” Carney said.

CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked about “the timing of the seizure in relation to the accident.”

“I would refer you, as I said in the past, to the Department of Commerce,” Carney answered.

“I’ve been asking them for hours,” Keilar protested.

“I think I would refer you to the Commerce Department,” was Carney’s rote reply.

The former journalist informed the questioners that he “was not a presiding doctor on this case” and could confirm only that “the commerce secretary was alone, he had a seizure, he was involved in an accident.”

“He was involved in several accidents,” called out April Ryan of American Urban Radio.

“Thank you for the correction,” Carney said. He did not sound grateful.

Carney’s non-defense doesn’t suggest much job security for Bryson, who, depending on what caused the episode Saturday, has either a medical problem or a legal problem.

For the White House, it was just the latest entry in the when-it-rains-it-pours ledger. This has been one of the worst stretches of the Obama presidency. In Washington, there is a creeping sense that the bottom has fallen out and that there may be no second term. Privately, senior Obama advisers say they are no longer expecting much economic improvement before the election.

Carney had the unenviable task of confronting the full arsenal of gloom at Monday afternoon’s briefing.

The AP asked about the president’s unfortunate private-sector-is-fine remark. The Reuters correspondent asked about the economic “head winds” from Europe. Ed Henry of Fox News Channel asked about the looming contempt-of-Congress vote against Attorney General Eric Holder. Margaret Talev of Bloomberg News asked about the Supreme Court striking down Obamacare. Norah O’Donnell of CBS News asked about calls for a special prosecutor to probe leaks. Victoria Jones of Talk Radio News asked about the stalled talks with Pakistan.

Carney sought relief by calling on TV correspondents from swing states, but the one from Wisconsin asked about the failed attempt to recall Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the one from Nevada asked about her state’s unemployment rate, the nation’s highest.

Mostly, though, questions veered back to the commerce secretary’s motoring.

AP Radio’s Mark Smith asked whether Bryson “is now on medical leave.”

“I would refer you to the Commerce Department.” (Eight hours later, Carney issued a statement saying that Bryson was indeed taking such a leave.)

Ryan asked about “mandatory physicals” for Cabinet nominees.

“I don’t have any details about that.”

A New York Daily News correspondent asked if Obama has confidence in Bryson staying on the job with a “felony rap.”

This one Carney answered — by not answering. “He is concerned about Secretary Bryson’s health and broadly about the incident,” the spokesman said — in marked contrast to the “absolute confidence” he said a moment later that Obama has in Holder.

Apparently Bryson will have to clean up his own wreckage. This White House has too many other pileups to deal with.

  1. On June 12, 2012 at 5:05 pm,
    Jerry O^OTB says:

    and the PRES….well, let’s say he is wearing small sneakers…

    • On June 12, 2012 at 5:34 pm,
      Jody D says:

      Good sum up! 🙂
      Jody D

      • On June 13, 2012 at 4:50 am,
        Jerry O^OTB says:

        thanks Jody….

    • On June 12, 2012 at 5:47 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Evening In the Box,

      I did not vote for him because I felt that he was not qualified. I still feel that way.

      Big Al

      • On June 13, 2012 at 4:57 am,
        Jerry O^OTB says:

        Also,,you need to get ALEX JONES ON YOUR SHOW…..maybe, we could start right here
        on the Libertian Movement…..(since, RAND IS PASSING UP THE OPPORTUNITY)
        I know we do not have enough time for this election,for pres….but, there are some
        senate races which are coming , and that would be a good start….think about it…

  2. On June 12, 2012 at 5:43 pm,
    shawn says:

    Yes it is a wonderful life if you work for the Government, you can keep your job and do nothing all day as long as you don’t kill anyone.

    • On June 12, 2012 at 5:46 pm,
      Big Al says:

      Pretty interesting comment, Shawn!

      Big Al

  3. On June 12, 2012 at 6:05 pm,
    Karen says:

    Hi Al,
    Great article. Things are so bad at the Whitehouse it was difficult for the journalist to put their usual spin on the news to make Obama look good.

  4. On June 12, 2012 at 7:36 pm,
    John W. Robertson says:

    CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked about “the timing of the seizure in relation to the accident.”

    I couldn’t help laughing at this line. I read it as if Groucho Marx were making a wise-crack.

  5. On June 12, 2012 at 7:59 pm,
    Dennis M. O'Neil says:

    A pefect example of subjective percieved reailty colliding with (on multiple occassions) objective physical truth.

  6. On June 13, 2012 at 12:16 am,
    John W. Robertson says:

    An Obituary to Yahoo! Finance

    Some might be surprised that I’m lamenting the below news article, where CNBC will become a major content provider for Yahoo Finance, but I am. I made Yahoo Finance my home page in 1998 when it was mostly white space and had a red logo. It has remained so to this day. The initial reason was primarily because they placed a bunch of what were then difficult-to-find statistics all within clicking distance. I remember when they got Java charts, when Tech Ticker started, and of course Breakout, which is pretty good, etc. I’ve talked from afar to Henry Blodget, Aaron Task and Joe Wiesenthal, and like all of them. Howard Davidowitz is a blast when they have him on.

    Tonight, it’s been announced that CNBC will become the primary content provider for YF, probably part of Yahoo’s ongoing cost-cutting. Articles from Briefing.com, and some original content they created were always quite useful (although user comments are atrocious). It’s curious that Yahoo would partner with a lagging network, known for its buffoonery. Not that I was going there as often anyways — a while back, somebody apparently didn’t like a comment I made, and Yahoo pulled my account because of it, and I’ve never been back (you can decide if it was for something like out-of-control vulgarity, or because somebody didn’t like reading researched facts which they didn’t agree with). I’ll probably still visit occasionally, but it’s a changing of the guard. I watched the NASDAQ bubble grow, then pop, and the Iraq “de-captiation strike” rally in March of 2002 which was a biggee after 9/11, and then housing bubble inflate, and crash, and then the financial freeze, etc., all while using their tempermental charts, which I’ve become quite good at, even though I have several other charting options. Actually, I used Yahoo! charts in my consulting reports, because they could be made to appear quite pretty if you knew how to load the indicators in the right way.

    Yahoo will still probably retain some helpful statistical announcements, earnings release dates, etc. The “Key Statistics” is one of my most often used parts of any website, and I imagine that won’t change. But seeing the CNBC Peacock logo, and all the ramblings that will come with it is disappointing. It took 14 years, but the delightfully quirky, slightly-unprofessional, yet very resourceful website I once knew is no more. Fortunately, there are options…like this website.


    • On June 13, 2012 at 12:19 am,
      John W. Robertson says:

      Oh, sorry, the Iraq de-cap strike was March 2003, not 2002. One war too soon on that one. Just in case anyone was trying to chart it (I think it was March 17, 2003 when we had a powerful follow-through day, right when no one expected it…quite a lesson learner).

      • On June 13, 2012 at 4:49 am,
        Jerry O^OTB says:

        JWR……We’ll take your word for it…….you are still “our man to go to”…..(since, I haven’t heard from IRISH….., I think he is still celebrating with theQUEEN…