This is sort of weak sauce as tough questioning goes— a bit of a throwaway at the end of the segment with no follow-up— but we take what we can get when it comes to occasionally pricking holes in the narrative. Though the questioning isn’t aggressive, the overarching message of the segment, for a change, deals with President Obama’s actions, Obama’s refusal to negotiate, and Obama’s hypocritical behavior instead of acting as if he has no responsibility in this.
Wolf Blitzer started by noting that Obama’s refusal to negotiate to raise the debt ceiling would make him the first of modern presidents not to negotiate, and Blitzer included Obama himself in his tally since the president negotiated over the debt ceiling in 2011. Carney then responded by making the audience wonder, if he’s the guy who’s supposed to represent the administration on TV every day of the week, shouldn’t he be better at being on TV? Or, at least that’s what I got out of it.
Click to watch:
The idea that negotiating over the debt limit is somehow “unprecedented” has been debunked over and over, with the Washington Post awarding Obama Four Pinocchios for his statement that, “You have never seen in the history of the United States the debt ceiling or the threat of not raising the debt being used to extort a president or a governing party and trying to force issues that have nothing to do with the budget and nothing to do with the debt.”
In fact, you saw it from Congressional Democrats during the Nixon administration, 25 times with 25 different nongermane items from 1978 to 1987, and it was used successfully in 1980 to repeal one of Carter’s unpopular energy measures. The president keeps using this word, “unprecedented.” I do not think it means what he thinks it means.
Carney’s last response is classic, as he tries to explain how then-Sen. Obama’s vote to not raise the debt ceiling was somehow not a vote to “default,” as the White House claims Republicans taking the exact same vote would be today.
“The president voted against raising the debt ceiling as a senator to make a point about what he believed were wrong fiscal priorities of that administration,” Carney replied. “What then Senator Obama never did was say, ‘I will vote to default if I don’t get what I want.’”
A distinction without a difference. And, lest we forget Obama’s remarks on the occasion of his vote for default because he wasn’t getting what he wanted:
The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. … Increasing America’s debt weakens us domestically and internationally. Leadership means that “the buck stops here.” Instead, Washington is shifting the burden of bad choices today onto the backs of our children and grandchildren. America has a debt problem and a failure of leadership. Americans deserve better.
Yes, they do.