There is no doubt that Edward Snowden has created a huge public relations crisis for the Obama administration. The government appears to be not only stupid, but utterly impotent.
Here we have this gigantic spying system, and it looks like the Keystone Kops. It cannot locate him. It cannot stop him. It revoked his passport. Nobody cares.
Obama has remained silent on all of this. He is like one of the three monkeys: hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil. He is surely speaking no evil, and he is surely speaking no good. He is not speaking.
In his place is Jay Carney. Who in the world is Jay Carney? Who are any of the presidential spokesman? Can you name Carney’s predecessor? Do you know what that man does today?
For decades, the United States government has been represented in the media by a series of no-name flacks. These people have achieved nothing of significance, at least in most cases. No one outside of the Washington Press corps had heard of them before they got involved with a presidential campaign, or maybe even later. Out of nowhere come these people. They stand in front of reporters, and they speak on behalf of the most powerful person in the world. Then back into nowhere they return, never to be quoted again.
I can think of no other political system in the history of man that has ever transferred this much authority, or seeming authority, to people as obscure, untrained, ineffective, and without real power as a White House spokesman.
The following brief note appears in The Wall Street Journal.
“The Chinese have emphasized the importance of building mutual trust,” said White House spokesman Jay Carney. “And we think that they have dealt that effort a serious setback. If we cannot count on them to honor their legal extradition obligations, then there is a problem.”
We are in the midst of what could become a full-blown diplomatic crisis. It could put communist China and Russia on one side, and the United States on the other. Venezuela or Ecuador may also get involved. The United States is publicly demanding that countries do what the countries have no intention of doing.
Who announces the significance of all this? Jay Carney.
Jay Carney speaks for the President of the United States. He stands in front of reporters and pontificates about the meaning of Edward Snowden’s escape from the clutches of the world’s greatest superpower. The reporters dutifully write down what Carney says. The cameramen turn over their files to editors, and the editors create sound bites for the evening news shows. Carney speaks for the President of the United States. Carney knows what the United States government is doing, thinking, and will do and think.
If it were not for the fact that he is the White House spokesman, nobody would pay any attention whatsoever to Jay Carney. When he finally leaves the office, nobody will ever again pay any attention to what Jay Carney says. But, for a brief period in his life, he is quoted by the world’s media. The world’s media presume that he speaks for the President on every issue. Whatever Jay Carney spins, that is what becomes official policy of the president of the United States.
So far, he has been asked 10,000 questions. Guess how many he could not answer.
You should know this by now. Go on. Guess.
The answer, according to Wikipedia, is 2,000.
You should have known that. Hint: What percentage of 10,000 is 2,000?
WHY THIS SYSTEM EXISTS
Every President of the United States is faced with this problem, which is a self-made problem. He is represented by someone who he is in limited contact with, and who may let this or that cat out of the bag. Why do we tolerate such a system?
One reason why a President tolerates it is that he can always explain away whatever the White House spokesman said. This gets him off the hook. This lets you hide behind a wall of personal silence. If he happens to approve of what the White House spokesman has said, he can remain silent. But nobody can be sure what he is thinking.
There is another reason for the office. Correspondents dutifully assemble in the briefing room, and because they do not have anybody worth quoting, they will quote Jay Carney. They fulfill their obligations as correspondents. Their editors are content. Their editors really do not care, because they have to get a newspaper out on time, or get the evening news out on time. Everybody suffers from deadlines. The White House spokesman enables everyone to meet these deadlines.
There is another factor to consider.
(To read the rest of my article, click the link.)