White House spox Josh Earnest on NYC terror: This war is a battle of ... narratives

Via the Free Beacon, he liked this talking point enough to repeat it during a segment on MSNBC this morning. I could understand some tin-eared geriatric Democrat at a loss for what to say about a bombing in Manhattan resorting to spooning out the usual oatmeal about competing narratives, but this guy’s job is communications. He’s supposed to understand the public mood and speak to it. Having woken up to news today that a terrorist bombmaker is still on the loose, is anyone in the mood for the now traditional post-attack lecture from Washington that treating all Muslims as jihadists is a self-fulfilling prophesy in the long run? I try to resist the temptation to declare “This is how you get Trump” whenever Beltway conventional wisdom seems to run up against populist impulses, but … this is how you get Trump.

While this guy is yammering about narratives, voters are seeing details like this in the news and wondering just how dire the threat is. The first reports on Saturday about a device going off in a garbage can in New Jersey suggested it might be a pipe bomb, which doesn’t require much proficiency to make. According to the Times, these were no pipe bombs:

A top law enforcement official said the pressure cookers in the two bombs in Chelsea on Saturday night were filled with “fragmentation materials.” The bomb that exploded, at 23rd Street, was filled with small bearings or metal BBs. A second device on 27th Street that did not explode appeared to be filled with the same material, the official said…

At the same time, pressure cookers have been a container of choice for many improvised explosive devices over the years. They were used in the deadly Boston Marathon bombings in 2013 based on a model in publications put out by Al Qaeda’s affiliate in Yemen.

An expert on improvised explosive devices used by terrorists around the world said that a device constructed with a cellular phone as a timer and Christmas lights as an initiator would indicate a higher-than-average competence than what is usually found in the United States. “Most of what we see in the United States is a pipe bomb with black powder or smokeless powder or a simple hobby fuse,” said the expert, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he does sensitive work for government agencies. “This would be the high end of sophistication for I.E.D.s in the United States.”

Adding shrapnel material to the bomb suggests the bombmaker was after maximum casualties — which makes it odd that the bomb apparently ended up in a dumpster, as that absorbed some of the force from the explosion, and even odder that he didn’t seek out a bigger crowd elsewhere in Manhattan. The sidewalks are packed in Times Square on a late summer September night; the Chelsea neighborhood chosen as the target isn’t as dense with people. Even weirder is this detail via DNA Info about the bomb on 27th Street that didn’t go off. It wasn’t a dud. It was, apparently, just ridiculous good luck:

The day Ahmad Khan Rahami allegedly planted two bombs in Chelsea — one of which detonated on West 23rd Street — two thieves accidentally helped to disable his second pressure cooker bomb left inside a rolling suitcase on West 27th Street, sources said.

The young men, who sources described as being well-dressed, opened the bag and took the bomb out, sources said, before placing the explosive into a garbage bag and walking away with the rolling suitcase.

In doing so, investigators believe they inadvertently disabled the explosive, sources said. That allowed investigators to examine the cellphone attached to the bomb intact and discover that it was connected to the family of Rahami.

Manhattan could have had two bombings four blocks apart within minutes of each other on Saturday night. The city may have escaped with no one having been killed only because two petty criminals couldn’t resist a free suitcase. And Josh Earnest wants to chatter about narratives.

Exit question via Dana Loesch: When will the White House deploy their narrative super-weapon?

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