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March 15, 2013

Presidential Overreach

Joe Charlebois

This past week White House Press Secretary Jay Carney took to his usual perch in the White House’s James S. Brady Briefing Room where a noticeable murmur filled the air. The press secretary set down his portfolio at the podium and slipped his drink onto the shelf just beneath.


As he raised his eyes to the gathered press, he pointed his finger at Jonathan Karl of ABC News to start the session. Immediately the questions turned to concern over the president's current health.


Mr. Karl started the buzz. ”Jay, is it true that the president hurt himself recently? If so, how did he do it?”


“Thanks for your concern. Yes it is true the president hurt himself this past month. He will be fine. He is seeking daily treatment from the White House medical staff and hopes to be back to his old self soon.”


“Jay, following up with what Jonathan asked; what was the President doing when he hurt himself,” CBS’s Major Garrett quickly added.


“Major, the president isn’t so much concerned about the extent of his injury or how it happened as he is in getting himself healthy enough to go to work for the American people. He understands that the country is suffering and that his role is make sure that he does everything he can for the American people. I assure you he will be back soon fighting for the middle class.”


“Jay?” asked Dan Lothian of CNN. “It has been noted that members of the president’s cabinet also seem to have been ah … hobbled lately. Are the conditions related?”


“Dan, if you are referring to Secretaries (Janet) Napolitano, (Ken) Salazar and (Ray) LaHood, yes, they too are suffering from similar symptoms. Next?” Mr. Carney then pointed to Wendell Goler of Fox News.


“Jay, can you confirm or deny that these injuries are all just severally strained backs that are the result of the massive overreach done by these members of the administration in their extensive attempt to carry the over-the-top doom and gloom narrative of sequester cuts?”


“Wendell, thanks for the question but I can neither confirm nor deny those reports. Thank you all.”


Ironically President Barack Obama didn't lose this game of political “chicken” to the Republicans, but rather to a growing number of typically sympathetic media types who just couldn't carry this version of White House spin with a straight face any longer.


Led by the reporting of long-time Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward, a few left-leaning reporters and liberal political analysts actually took a look at the cuts objectively and called the White House to account. In this political atmosphere it is rare that the left ever loses in the blame game. This time was different.


Mr. Woodward – possibly for selfish reasons – publically revealed the background behind the sequestration. Even after direct communication with White House team, he did not back down from his assertions.


If this was not the first weakening in the president's formidable armor, it was at least the most serious. When most notably the president has stated that the Secret Service required that White House tours be suspended to forego any furloughs within the Secret Service ranks.


Immediately Jay Carney backtracks the president's statement.  Furthermore, Dan Bongino, who last year ran unsuccessfully for the Senate seat in Maryland and a former Secret Service agent, stated that even Mr. Carney's version of events is untrue as the Secret Service would never enter into political decisions.


Prior to the sequestration taking affect, DHS Secretary Napolitano made statements that sequestration would result in a 25% reduction in Coast Guard patrols; cause the release of an untold number of immigration detainees; cause five day wait time at ports and that security lines at America’s airports would become unbearable.


In fact, after the sequestration took affect Secretary Napolitano told POLITICO that airport security lines were 150-200% above were they should be.


The secretary's staff had to issue a retraction after it was found out that this statement was untrue. In fact, the only increase in lines was the customs line at two airports. Otherwise there is no discernible difference in security lines.


Finally the political masterminds that created the sequester as well as the strategy that was devised to place all blame on the Republican Party failed. Further the overhyped projections of devastation were revealed to be nothing more than a concentration of cuts to very public programs. That failed as well.


Let's hope that now the curtain has been drawn back on the president. The public will realize that the "Great Oz" isn't all that.


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