ABC’s Jake Tapper grilled White House Press Secretary Jay Carney over the controversial remarks Teamsters president James Hoffa made at a Labor Day rally at which the President spoke.
Tapper was trying to square the President’s message in January with his lack of response to Hoffa’s remarks on Monday when he told the assembled crowd that “If we go back and we keep the eye on the prize, Let’s take these sonofabitches out and give America back to America where we belong,” in what many thought was a reference to the Tea Party.
Tapper: In January President Obama said after the shooting of Gabrielle Giffords. “At a time when our discourse has become so sharply polarized – at a time when we are far too eager to lay the blame for all that ails the world at the feet of those who think differently than we do – it’s important for us to pause for a moment and make sure that we are talking with each other in a way that heals, not a way that wounds.” Did he mean that?
Carney: Of course he did.
Tapper: Then, where do the comments by the Teamsters president fit in with that?
Carney: First of all, those weren’t comments by the President. Secondly, as I think it’s been reported…
Tapper: …comments by a union leader, at an event that President Obama spoke at…
Carney: I understand that there is a ritual in Washington that, you know, somebody says something, and you link the associations, and then everybody who has an association with him or her has to avow or disavow. The President wasn’t there, he wasn’t on the stage, he didn’t speak for another twenty minutes, he didn’t hear it. I really don’t have any comment beyond that.
Tapper: Okay, well, some of us covered the campaign, and recall a time when somebody made some harsh comments about then-Senator Obama during the introduction at a McCain rally, and the Obama campaign was offended, and expected an apology, Senator McCain came out and did so.
Carney: Mr. Hoffa speaks for himself, he speaks for the labor movement, AFL-CIO. The President speaks for himself, I speak for the President. What the President was glad to do yesterday was have the opportunity to present his views on the importance of working Americans, and on the importance of taking measures to help working Americans, to create jobs and grow the economy.
Tapper: So the precedent you’re setting right now for the 2012 election is, the Republican candidates are the ones to pay attention to. Those who introduce them at rallies, their surrogates, we don’t have to pay attention to anything that they say.
Carney: Jake, I think I’ve said what I can say…
Tapper: Is that the standard now?
Carney: You can report it as you like.
Tapper: I’d rather not have to do this Washington kabuki every time something happens, but if that’s the standard, if that’s the standard…
Carney: The standard is we should focus on the actions we can take to grow the economy and create jobs, instead of focusing on kabuki theater.
That coming from a guy who just performed a kabuki dance for Tapper and the White House Press Corps.
Hoffa’s remarks have received widespread coverage but the White House and the Democratic Party refuse to comment or acknowledge that they were out of line and deserving of an apology. Instead they have closed ranks around Hoffa so as not to offend a key voting bloc for the Democrats in 2012 by saying that their focus is on job creation and getting the economy growing again.
That’s their response? Pitiful.
Obama may talk about the need for civil discourse but that apparently only applies to conservatives and Republicans and not the President and his liberal allies.