Check-the-box boilerplate from Jay Carney just isn’t going to do it this time.
The Prime Minister stated that Poland expected America to engage in efforts aimed at eradicating the phrase “Polish death camps” once and for all. Donald Tusk added that it might “paradoxically be a good occasion for the American administration, Americans and the President of the United States to support Poland in its efforts to promote historical truth, correct phrases and appropriate assessments of the events which took place in Poland and Europe during the Second World War”…
I am certain that our American friends are capable of a more explicit reaction than issuing a correction and the spokesperson of the White House expressing regret, and that maybe they will once and for all eliminate such errors – said the head of the Polish government.
Not sure what he wants the U.S. to do to help “eradicate” the phrase “Polish death camps.” Banning it would be unconstitutional, of course; some sort of educational campaign would be fine, except that I think pretty much everyone already understands that the “Polish death camps” were actually German death camps. That’s why Obama’s taking such a beating for it today, even from his own side. Lefty Michael Tomasky, a reliable Obama defender, calls it the worst thing he’s ever said:
This probably won’t matter much politically–I’m not sure how many Polish-Americans are Obama voters (although maybe in Chicago there’s a fair number, just on the basis of going for the hometown kid; but of course they all live in a state he’s carrying by 20 points anyhow). But it’s important and it’s embarrassing. Yes–it’s the first time he’s ever embarrassed me as president. He came kinda-sorta close when he called the Cambridge police “stupid,” but that was more of a political thing, not a sin against history. This was just shameful; a shameful thing for a president to say. If you don’t know why, read Frum’s essay, linked to above.
If anyone in the big O’s orbit reads these scribblings, I would beseech you people to encouarge the boss to correct this record. To take a moment to say at an upcoming event, “You know, I said something really terribly wrong last week, and I want to correct it.” And go on to explain why it’s important that he do so. That would actually play very well politically–for people to see a politician admit to an error, in public like that! But that is not why I propose it. I propose it because it’s right.
Here’s the David Frum post to which he refers, explaining why this is much worse than the usual “57 states” Obama brain fart. Quote: “The medal to Karski was to be part of the process of laying painful memories to rest. It was intended too to strengthen the US-Polish relations that the Obama administration has frayed in pursuit of its ‘reset’ with Russia. Instead, this administration bungled everything: past, present, and future.”
I said last night that, at the least, Tusk and foreign minister Radek Sikorski could expect groveling phone calls from Obama. But I was wrong: To my amazement, Jay Carney told the White House press corps this afternoon that he’s not aware of any plans by Obama to phone either. Can that possibly be true? Calling them “Polish death camps” is profoundly stupid but can be explained away as an accidental lapse in thought. Refusing to call and apologize for the error is much more of a deliberate slight. What’s the hold up, champ?
Via CBS, here’s Jay Carney delivering some, er, check-the-box boilerplate.
Update: The pressure’s rising.
“I hope we will jointly act to make up for this unfortunate mistake. I believe that every error, every mistake can be corrected if it is given adequate consideration,” Komorowski said in remarks posted on his official website.
Komorowski stopped well short of explicitly demanding an apology from Obama, who used the phrase Tuesday as he honored World War II Polish resistance hero Jan Karski with a posthumous Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest civilian American honor. Poland’s foreign minister had demanded a full apology late Tuesday. But Polish Prime Minister Donald Tusk made no reference to an apology on Wednesday even as he blasted Obama’s remark.