Syria

New W.H. Press Sec. on Lethal Aid to Syria Rebels: 'You Can Say Whatever You Want About It'

|

new guy
White House

White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest, soon to replace Jay Carney, had a tough Monday but noted to reporters at the daily press briefing that it wasn't actually his first day on the job. Asked to clarify comments by National Security Advisor Susan Rice that the U.S. is providing "lethal" aid to Syrian rebels—and how military aid could be anything but lethal—Earnest told a reporter she could say whatever she wanted about it, before underlining that rebels in Syria were receiving "military and non-military assistance."

Earnest was also asked to square Rice's comment that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl—who was traded to the U.S. by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Guantanamo detainees—had served with honor and distinction, in light of reports that he had deserted his post. "You're asking me a hypothetical question," Earnest said.

Earnest didn't seem as comfortable spinning talking points as Carney, but may get there by the time he takes over. Earnest was also asked whether President Obama had read Hillary Clinton's new book. He didn't seem aware the book was already on sale.

NEXT: Obama Announces Executive Order Extending Student Loan Cap, Other "Action"

Editor's Note: We invite comments and request that they be civil and on-topic. We do not moderate or assume any responsibility for comments, which are owned by the readers who post them. Comments do not represent the views of Reason.com or Reason Foundation. We reserve the right to delete any comment for any reason at any time. Report abuses.

  1. Has a press secretary ever contributed positively to public understanding of the issues?

    1. That’s not their job.

      1. Then what is the public paying them for, if the public doesn’t benefit?

        …he naively asked.

        1. Think of him as a member of the Secret Service. Except that he jumps in front of questions that might embarrass the President.

          1. And yet news organizations spend millions to fill those seats in the press room.

          2. I like this description.

          3. You paint much too heroic a portrait of the liar in chief’s chief liar.

            Think of him as a PR flack.

    2. No.

      In recent memory, Tony Snow is the only one who came close, for me. (I think it was Bush the Lesser he worked for) I knew him from when he was with the Detroit News as a columnist. Always respected his work.

      He’d give and take with the White House press, but, much as I respected him in his previous life, as WH Spokesmodel….he was pretty much just like all the rest in my view.

      1. Ari Fleischer had a sort of apparatchik charm that at least made him entertaining. Dana Perino exuded a “I just got this job because I am blond and hot not because I have any brains” contempt that was mildly tolerable. And Robert Gibbs had this sort of oily “I am dumb as fuck but I can sell anything” used car salesman like charm about him.

        They all had their tragic comic qualities until they got to Carney. Carney was just pathetic.

        1. Carney was just pathetic.

          Which is exactly what made him so perfect for the job. I am still surprised the White House let him go.

        2. IMO: Carney went beyond pathetic. He was a happy, active & willing participant in the thug nature of this administration.

          1. He totally was. What made him pathetic is that I honestly don’t think there is a single indignity that Carney wouldn’t have happily suffered if Obama decided he must do so. I really think Obama could have banged Clair Shipman in front of him at a press conference and Carney would have thanked him for the honor.

            I have honestly never seen an ass kisser that could touch Carney. And I work in government. So its not like I haven’t seen some epic ass kissing. But nothing like Carney.

  2. You mean lethal aid to the Syrian rebels, right? The way it’s written here makes it sound like aid to the Assad government.

    1. I don’t know, with this Admin they might literally be dropping palatts of “aide” in Syria, letting them fall where the may.

  3. Earnest was also asked to square Rice’s comment that Sgt. Bowe Bergdahl?who was traded to the U.S. by the Taliban in exchange for the release of five Guantanamo detainees?had served with honor and distinction, in light of reports that he had deserted his post. “You’re asking me a hypothetical question,” Earnest said.

    So were Rice’s appearance on TV and statement and the various accusations against Berghdahl “hypothetical”?

    I guess Jay Carney was replaced because he just wasn’t retarded enough for the job.

    1. Like I said on the other thread, somebody needs to ask Rice if she also thinks animal Hassan served “with honor and distinction” up to the moment he went on his shooting spree.

      Or better yet, ask Obama if he agrees with her on Bergdahl and then ask him that follow up. He’d look like a Tasmanian devil he’d be spinning so fast.

      1. Rice really is Ron Burgandy. I really wish Earnest had just said “look everyone knows if you put it in the talking points, Susan will say it. Why can’t you guys understand that?”

        1. I can hear her now.

          “We’ll, George, we just figured it was the right thing to do. I’m Susan Rice. Go fuck yourself, America.”

    2. It made me laugh. Either it was unintentionally stupid or this new guy is even going to pretend to answer questions.

      1. isn’t.

        I should be a press secretary.

        1. A good press secretary can use a million words to say nothing and let the press feel like something meaningful was said.

          1. This is relevant.

            http://www.youtube.com/watch?v…..feature=kp

  4. Krayewski, you had a golden chance at a Wilde reference and you blew it.

    I am so disappointed in you, and the entirety of the Reason editorial staff.

    1. That reference is so lazy and obvious that any respectable journalist would be embarrassed to even suggest it. Which is why the entire American press has agreed to save it for the slavering profile in the New Yorker.

      1. Damn, with spin like that, you should be the next WH Press Sec.*

        *That’s worse that wishing you develop cancer.

    2. It was an earnest mistake, HM.

    3. I prefer a Jim Varney reference.

      Ernest: Scared Stupid

  5. and how military aid could be anything but lethal

    Food. Medical supplies. Transportation vehicles. That’s just off the top of my head.

    1. But if we provide those things to the people that are fighting, doesn’t that free up the money they would have to spend on those things? And if that money is freed up, you know it’s being spent on weapons…that we’re probably still selling them from the “annex” in Libya.

      1. That’s the theory used when prosecuting on charges of providing material support for terrorists.

        1. IIRC, just putting out recordings that say America is evil is enough to get you and your minor son summarily murderdroned for material support. But if you’re the head of state doing it, it gets you applause from the press corps and **gasp** dare I say! a second Nobel peace prize.

      2. I figured the people doing the fighting have no money to spend, and instead are relying on support from sympathizers.

      3. Are you suggesting money is… fungible? Unpossible.

      4. I’m reminded of the old joke about the little girl whose parents send her to the store with $1 to buy milk and $1 to buy candy, only for her to come home in tears because she couldn’t remember which bill was for which.

    2. Not that I disagree, but I’ve seen that same list called “humanitarian aid” rather than “military aid”.

    1. I’m trying to decide which “Ernest” movie was the worst to quote before give you a properly reply.

      …Scared Stupid? …Saves Christmas? …Goes to Camp? They were are terrible.

  6. “Wow, that was some serious truth serum I just accidentally drank! I hope you don’t ask me an embarrassing questions in my vulnerable condition…

    “Look, with the Bergdahl thing, we’re just hoping the low-info voters saw our initial press conference and got a warm fuzzy feeling about freeing an American soldier. We never expected you guys to believe us…

    “The whole *point* of Syria is we want to get involved in the shooting! The public doesn’t want U.S. troops there, so we send weapons. Of course we’re flying blind and aren’t fully sure what we’re doing, but we hope the moderate factions in this multi-cornered civil war will dominate the others. Cross your fingers, guys…”

  7. The NFL’s requirements strike at every phase of the game’s preparations.

    For example, the document notes that if placing logos of the NFL, Super Bowl, and teams that are playing in the game on the field requires different turf to be installed in the new downtown Minneapolis stadium, there would be no charge for that to the league. Also, the document states that the hotels where the teams stay should be obligated to televise the NFL Network for a year before the Super Bowl ? at no cost to the league.

    The NFL asked that if cellphone signal strength at the team hotels is not strong enough, then the host committee ? at no cost to the league ? “will be responsible [for erecting] a sufficient number of portable cellular towers.”

    Inside the stadium for the Super Bowl, the league asked that it be able to install ATMs that accept NFL preferred credit and debit cards ? and for officials to cover or remove ATMs that “conflict with NFL preferred payment services.”

    In another requirement, the NFL requested that as many as two “top quality bowling venues” be reserved at no cost to the league for the Super Bowl Celebrity Bowling Classic.

    Apparently,the NFL rolls on Shabis.

    http://www.startribune.com/loc…..53921.html

    1. What’s Shabis?
      -Donnie

      1. Shut the fuck up, Donny.

    2. So the NFL is the biggest diva of them all.

    3. Also, the high-end hotels have to provide the presidential suites for free.

  8. I kind of admire Earnest’s approach to the Press Secretary role as a brick wall off of which questions bounce harmlessly.

    1. I guess he got the job because Greg Popovich was unavailable.

  9. If you slackers have the time and the interest, check out this police standoff going down in North Hollywood. The suspect is carrying one of those terrifying and apocalyptic assault weapons!!
    http://www.myfoxla.com/story/2…..le-pursuit

    1. Wow, NoHo is really working hard to maintain my biases against it.

      1. I almost ended up living in NoHo before I learned that my employer was moving to Glendale. The neighborhood, not surprisingly, looked really shitty, but it actually would have been somewhat more convenient than the one I live in now.

      2. Meh, I hate most of LA north of the 10 and west of the 110. So I ain’t surprised. Btw, my former handle was RannedPall, but I changed it to showcase my support for the dodgers, and for the Mexican language.

        1. Mexican language

          I NOT A MEXICAN!

          Playa clued me in on the name change.

        2. Makes sense, seeing as how Kemp’s public tantrums are turning that team into a telenovela.

    2. It’s a good thing they got those new dronez. Time to give em a twirl.

  10. So this guy worked as an aide for Marion Barry (yes, the crack-smoking DC Mayor), and for Michael Bloombooerg’s first mayoral campaign.

    Carney looked like a desperate jackal, this guy looks like a cookie-cutter stuffed suit.

    (Tangent – Reading Earnest’s bio and thought, am I the only one who thinks the term “political science” is a nonsensical term?)

    1. You want to read some tragic comedy, read Susan Rice’s wikipedia page.

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Susan_Rice

      And then remember this woman holds a high position in our government.

      1. Rice said that her parents taught her to “never use race as an excuse or advantage”, and as a young girl she “dreamed of becoming the first U.S. senator from the District of Columbia”.[5]

        So not only did she not listen to her parents, she was retarded as well.

        Sounds about right.

        1. She is also the one who said publicly that they couldn’t use the word “genocide” about Rwanda because it might have effected the upcoming election. While I am sure that is true, I seriously doubt her bosses wanted her to say as much in public. She is a complete disaster who has fucked up every job she has ever held but they just keep recycling her.

          1. Once you’re IN, that’s it, you don’t really even care then how badly you fuck up a position, because it just means you’re getting a new one. So, less boredom!

            1. Jamie Gorelick Syndrome.

        2. To be fair, DC statehood was a proposal floating around back then.

    2. am I the only one who thinks the term “political science” is a nonsensical term

      In this forum I would doubt you are alone. But in academia you would be a fairly lonely voice. Without a long, boring explanation, a lot of this goes back to the early part of the 20th century when historians, et al, were trying to play catch up with scientists by arguing that the humanities could be explained with “laws” just as science could.

      I’m not certain on when the term political science came into use. However, I do know a lot of polisci people and there are two basic subsets in the field: one that looks at philosophy and government and the other that uses statistical models and analysis to examine and (theoretically) predict future patterns.

      1. If the first 3 required classes for a degree in PolySci were:

        Lying 101

        Cronyism 101

        and

        Scumbaggery 101

        Then it might be more well suited to actually give the student an advantage in launching a career in politics, or at least a real understanding of politics. Because beyond those 3 basic classes, there is really nothing much more to learn.

        1. Throw in an internship with a Congressman or, if your parents can afford it, the White House. Interning with a special interest group can also qualify.

        2. “The first lesson of economics is scarcity: There is never enough of anything to satisfy all those who want it. The first lesson of politics is to disregard the first lesson of economics.”

          ? Thomas Sowell

      2. I double majored in Political Science and Economics, and found them to be quite complimentary. Whereas Economics is the study of how people make decisions involving scarce resources, Political Science is the study of power. Once you decide to approach it that way (instead of treating it as a training program to be a political hack) it can really become quite interesting.

        1. No doubt. But I was working on the assumption that DC_36 was questioning such political study as a “science” and was responding accordingly.

          1. I’d say it’s on equal scientific footing with Economics, although harder to quantify in many respects. I know that it’s popular to belittle the social sciences as “unscientific”, but I tend to disagree with that as there is very much a process of formulating hypotheses and testing against evidence/data. Political Science actually becomes interesting once you start treating it as a science.

    3. Politics and non-profits, dumping grounds for the idiot sons and daughters of the connected.

  11. It’s the new guy, same as the old guy. I sure hope he’s got his lyin britches on.

    1. **begin Pete Townsend guitar solo**

  12. This administration needs to put on their thinking hatz. If they were smart they would have appointed a feminist tranny to this post.

    That way lying wouldn’t even be required. Any time the press asked anything more serious than ‘So has the president read Hillary’s new book?, nyuck, nyuck, nyuck.’ All secretary of tranny would have to say is ‘You just triggered me! I feel unsafe! No more questions today!’.

  13. factoid: Jim Varney, the actor behind the Ernest Worrell persona, died in White House, TN

  14. White House Deputy Press Secretary Josh Earnest

    “But seriously, I’m just kidding.”

  15. “”You’re asking me a hypothetical question,”

    Or, as a great scientificist and ethno-linguistic doctor of logicology may have conceptualized the nature of that inquiry, one might say that they were relativistically potificating their own preconceptions into the rhetorical essence of the interrogative, by which they sought to impose their hegemonic conceptualization onto the framework of the discourse.

    So next question, bitch.

  16. …”You’re asking me a hypothetical question,” Earnest said.”…

    They should really have someone familiar with the English language in that position.

    1. “Or, as a great scientificist and ethno-linguistic doctor of logicology may have conceptualized the nature of that inquiry, one might say that they were relativistically potificating their own preconceptions into the rhetorical essence of the interrogative, by which they sought to impose their hegemonic conceptualization onto the framework of the discourse.”
      And I nominate Gilmore…

  17. Earnest: Scared Stupid.

  18. I liked this guy better when he was starring in the sitcom “Wings”.

Please to post comments

Comments are closed.