This one’s a tag-team effort between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, showing a lack of coordination between the President and his Secretary of State. As events in Honduras unfolded, Obama publicly called the removal of President Manuel Zelaya a coup. Hillary sent an entirely different message in order to keep American options open:
U.S. President Barack Obama said on Monday the coup that ousted Honduran President Manuel Zelaya was illegal and would set a “terrible precedent” of transition by military force unless it was reversed.
“We believe that the coup was not legal and that President Zelaya remains the president of Honduras, the democratically elected president there,” Obama told reporters after an Oval Office meeting with Colombian President Alvaro Uribe.
Meanwhile, Hillary actually did a little research first before using the term “coup,” and contradicted Obama:
Despite Obama’s comments, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said the administration was not formally designating the ouster as a military coup for now, a step that would force a cut-off of most U.S. aid to Honduras.
Under U.S. law, no aid — other than for the promotion of democracy — may be provided to a country whose elected head of government has been toppled in a military coup.
So is it a non-coup coup, or just a non-coup? Even Hillary got confused after this:
“We do think that this has evolved into a coup,” Clinton told reporters, adding the administration was withholding that determination for now.
Asked if the United States was currently considering cutting off aid, Clinton shook her head no.
Note to the administration: if certain terms trigger actions you want to avoid, don’t use them. And if you say, “We do think that this has evolved into a coup,” then you’re not withholding that determination — you’ve just announced it! If we have a rule that halts aid after a coup, it’s worse to say that we think it’s a coup but we won’t officially call it that to keep aid flowing than it is to just refrain from calling it a coup in the first place.
It’s Amateur Hour at both the White House and Foggy Bottom. (Thanks to Matt at Creative Minority Report.)
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