Jay Carney’s Changing Positions on Presidential Vacations and Photo Ops
posted at 3:53 pm on August 11, 2011 by Howard Portnoy
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney has been on the defensive lately. Today, he found himself having to defuse criticisms of the president’s 10-day vacation at Martha’s Vineyard and his decision to photograph the returning coffins of SEAL Team Six members despite protests from the slain servicemen’s families.
On the subject of Obama’s vacation in the midst of economic turmoil and ongoing debt problems Carney said, “I don’t think Americans out there would begrudge that notion that the President would spend some time with his family,” adding:
There is no such thing as a presidential vacation. The presidency travels with you. [Obama] will be in constant communication and get regular briefings from his national security team as well as his economic team.
On the subject of the president’s photo op—a widely published image of him saluting the fallen warriors—Carney said that
the picture was carefully taken so that it did not show the cases containing remains… The White House routinely releases photos taken by the White House photographers in specific circumstances where it would be inappropriate to include members of the media. In this case, the White House released the photo, in the interests of transparency, so that the American people could have as much insight as possible into this historic and sobering event.
Contrast the two statements with the following one, which addresses the same topics:
Back in July, when they were planning what the President should do during his month-long vacation (as part of their effort to persuade the public that he wasn’t actually on vacation in the generally accepted sense of what vacation means—i.e., having fun and not working), the image-makers hit upon a clever idea. Every week, they decided, they would send the President somewhere … for a day or a day and a half to hold an event of some kind in which he would mix with ‘real Americans.’
Now, I’m not going to feign shock at the fact that this President is using photo ops in an attempt—some might say a cynical attempt—to influence public opinion. It would be news if he weren’t doing just that….
This last statement was part of an article published TIMEMagazine in 2001. The president whose vacation plans and photo ops it was deriding as cynical were George W. Bush. The author of the article was Jay Carney.
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