There is increasing concern in Washington that Jay Carney, the new White House Press Secretary, isn’t up to the job. Even when faced with an innocuous question that requires only that he trot out the official line, he looks completely stunned, as if the questioner is Bob Woodward asking him about Deep Throat. He gathers himself, embarks on a stuttering reply, pauses for what seems like an eternity, then starts gabbling, tripping over his words, rephrasing what he’s just said, then looking plaintively back at the questioner as if to say, “How did I do? Was that okay? Or would you like me to try again?”
“I think he’s doing very badly,” says a political contact based in Washington. “And I’ve heard others say that he’s really struggling.”
First of all, the job of Press Secretary has really blown up far past its actual importance over the years as far as I’m concerned. This position ideally shouldn’t be one of anything more than what essentially amounts to a glorified recording secretary who has a great short term memory and the ability to reliably repeat what they are told. Give them the talking points and the news of the day as the administration wants to spin it, send them out to the podium, and feed that data to the press in response to their questions. Nobody cares about the PressSec’s personal opinions and he or she shouldn’t be expected to “wing it” or freestyle.
But they do have to present a certain level of confidence, speaking as they are for the most powerful office in the world. From the first day I had kind of wondered about Jay. Nice enough guy, I’m sure, but he always seemed a bit on the small / timid side behind that podium and his somewhat high pitched voice didn’t seem to carry all that much authority. I’m sure he could do better, but perhaps they’re just putting too much pressure on him.