There is increasing concern in Washington that Jay Carney, the new White House Press Secretary, isn’t up to the job. Even when faced with an innocuous question that requires only that he trot out the official line, he looks completely stunned, as if the questioner is Bob Woodward asking him about Deep Throat. He gathers himself, embarks on a stuttering reply, pauses for what seems like an eternity, then starts gabbling, tripping over his words, rephrasing what he’s just said, then looking plaintively back at the questioner as if to say, “How did I do? Was that okay? Or would you like me to try again?”
“I think he’s doing very badly,” says a political contact based in Washington. “And I’ve heard others say that he’s really struggling.”
This is a pivotal moment in Barack Obama’s presidency, a moment when the eyes of the world are locked on Washington. In the global battle for hearts and minds, it is essential that the leader of the free world exudes an air of calm authority at this time. Yet the White House’s handling of the media in the aftermath of Sunday’s events has been breathtakingly amateurish, planting seeds of doubt about the legality of the operation and about Osama bin Laden’s death that would not otherwise be there. The constantly changing narrative – or “fact pattern”, as one White House official described it – suggests that the president and his advisers have been caught on the hop and have no clear strategy for dealing with the fallout from bin Laden’s death. This is epitomised by the halting, timid delivery of Jay – “How’m I doin’?” – Carney, who must bear some of the responsibility for this communications failure.
What the hell is a fact pattern? I just thought you told the truth and there were facts. Now, evidently, there is a pattern. These bozos have a euphemism and special term for everything. LAME.