Has the narrative begun to turn on Barack Obama? Jon Stewart reacted last night to the string of scandals buffeting the White House over the past week, and the incredibly weak response they have generated. Both Barack Obama and Jay Carney have insisted that they only know about these executive-branch outrages because, er, they watch cable news a lot, or something. Needless to say, this doesn’t give Stewart the warm fuzzies about the hands in which the nation rests … or perhaps the honesty in the White House (via Mediaite):
This was the best line:
“I wouldn’t be surprised if President Obama learned Osama bin Laden had been killed when he saw himself announce it on television.”
Dana Milbank also proclaims himself impatient with “President Passerby”:
President Passerby needs urgently to become a participant in his presidency.
Late Monday came the breathtaking news of a full-frontal assault on the First Amendment by his administration: word that the Justice Department had gone on a fishing expedition through months of phone records of Associated Press reporters.
And yet President Obama reacted much as he did to the equally astonishing revelation on Friday that the IRS had targeted conservative groups based on their ideology: He responded as though he were just some bloke on a bar stool, getting his information from the evening news.
In the phone-snooping case, Obama didn’t even stir from his stool. Instead, he had his press secretary, former Time magazine journalist Jay Carney, go before an incensed press corps Tuesday afternoon and explain why the president will not be involving himself in his Justice Department’s trampling of press freedoms.
“Other than press reports, we have no knowledge of any attempt by the Justice Department to seek phone records of the Associated Press,” Carney announced.
The president “found out about the news reports yesterday on the road,” he added.
And now that Obama has learned about this extraordinary abuse of power, he’s not doing a thing about it. “We are not involved at the White House in any decisions made in connection with ongoing criminal investigations,” Carney argued.
Meanwhile, David Axelrod wants people to know that we shouldn’t expect a President to know and control what happens in his administration, because, y’know, it’s so big:
Yes, we know, David. It’s one of the many reasons conservatives want smaller government. But the deliberate targeting of conservative groups by the IRS isn’t the same thing as the donut choices in the cafeteria, either.