Jazz covered White House communications strategist Dan Pfeiffer’s no good, very bad day on the Sunday talk shows yesterday, but one exchange in particular is worth revisiting — especially since Pfeiffer may have set a new gold standard for throwing gasoline on a political fire. As part of doing the full Ginsburg (as Susan Rice did eight months ago almost to the day with similar impact), Pfeiffer sat across the desk from Bob Schieffer on CBS’ Face the Nation, and Schieffer wondered … why? Why does the White House rush to take credit for every little success, Schieffer wondered, and then send out ignorant flacks in every failure and scandal? Mediaite noted the exchange:
“Is this president out of touch?” the CBS host asked, addressing the talk about Obama often appearing to be a bystander. The “actual, real scandal” would have been if the president had interfered with an investigation, Pfeiffer countered.
Schieffer pressed on though: Later in the interview, he denied any desire to be “argumentative,” but pointed out that when the executive branch does something right (e.g. killing Osama bin Laden), the White House has no “hesitancy” in taking credit.
“But with all of these things, when these things happen, you seem to send out officials many times who don’t even seem to know what has happened,” he added, as contrast.
“And I use as an example of that Susan Rice who had no connection whatsoever to the events that took place in Benghazi, and yet she was sent out, appeared on this broadcast, and other Sunday broadcasts, five days after it happens. And I’m not here to get in an argument with you about who changed which word in the talking points and all that. The bottom line is what she told the American people that day bore no resemblance to what had happened on the ground in an incident where four Americans were killed.”
Not quite responding to the point Schieffer was making, Pfeiffer reverted to the much-repeated argument about how the administration put forth information as they received it.
Schieffer reiterated that he was speaking about the “PR plan.”
“Why did you do that?” he asked. “Why didn’t the secretary of state come and tell us what they knew and if you knew nothing say, ‘We don’t know yet’? Why didn’t the White House chief of staff come out? I mean I would, and I mean this as no disrespect to you — why are you here today? Why isn’t the White House chief of staff here to tell us what happened?”
Pfeiffer didn’t provide an answer, providing an ironic proof of Schieffer’s point. The CBS host wasn’t done, either. After Pfeiffer left, Schieffer offered this editorial welcoming viewers to “Dumb and Dumber”:
Remember what White House sources told Sharly Attkisson about Benghazi in their fallback posture last week?
“We’re portrayed by Republicans as either being lying or idiots,” said one Obama administration official who was part of the Benghazi response. “It’s actually closer to us being idiots.”
That seems to be the sales pitch these days.