The president’s press secretary, Jay Carney, could be facing his most challenging days since joining the White House staff — and that’s saying something.
Given the variety of scandals this administration is facing, from the Benghazi talking points to AP phone taps and the IRS’s political targeting, Jay Carney can’t possibly remember all the lies that need to be told, the half-answers that need to be given and the ignorance that needs to be claimed in order to protect the president. After listening to Attorney General Eric Holder and President Obama address these scandals within the past 24 hours, I assume Carney will need to develop some new comprehensive language that goes something like this: “At this White House, we don’t know anything, and we aren’t going to know anything. And when we do finally know something, it will prove the one thing we do already know, which is that this White House is not guilty of knowing anything. So there, let’s move on. Republicans are trying to protect the rich — or something.”
Meanwhile, over at the IRS, they are breathing a sigh of relief. With Treasury Secretary Jack Lew now in charge of getting the facts and cleaning up the Obama IRS mess, it is safe to assume that the changes demanded and the probe of the misdeeds can only go so far. It is also safe to assume the investigation and the house cleaning will have limits. Jack Lew is a political handler par excellence, and, to the best of my knowledge, he has never been in charge of running a big organization or overseeing an investigation of anything or been a leader of any type of reorganization effort. He seems to be the perfect person to keep things quiet and slow-walk the whole Obama IRS affair.
The president has decided to keep the IRS scandal — along with the others — in-house. For some part of every day in the coming months, Mr. Carney will have to speak to these matters. Untold hours will be spent in the West Wing and elsewhere by agency political appointees who will be drafting, shaping and testing the spin that will be deployed to escape blame, point fingers and accuse Republicans.
The GOP needs to be sure-footed and not overreach. There is no need to get loud or to hurry. The president has made sure that the scandals will remain on his plate for the foreseeable future.