In a tense briefing on Wednesday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney sparred with the press corps over President Barack Obama’s handling of the Syrian civil war, locking horns with one reporter who pressed him for answers on the president’s abrupt about-face decision to ask Congress to authorize a military strike.
As The Daily Caller reported on Tuesday, The White House is attempting to present the Syrian debacle as a win for the president, with Carney touting Obama’s “consistency.” (Related: WH crows Obama’s ‘consistency’ in Syrian diplomacy)
“That’s far more significant than, you know, assessments about how it looked as it unfolded,” Carney said at the briefing. “What’s important is the result — and the result of his consistency has been the potential for a diplomatic breakthrough.”
Fox News reporter Ed Henry brought up House Speaker John Boehner’s decision to leverage the impending Continuing Resolution debate as a way to defund the Affordable Care Act: “The President changed his mind on Syria. It wasn’t a bad thing. You thought it was smart to go to Congress.”
Carney interjected, but Henry pressed on.
“I’m just asking,” Henry said. “These are the facts you have been presenting everyday at this podium for the last couple of weeks. He was not going to go to Congress to vote on Syria. Then he changed his mind. Everyone here says, ‘It’s a great idea. He’s slowed everything down.’ John Boehner changed his mind. What’s wrong with that?”
A visibly irritable Carney responded: “Because shutting down the government over Obamacare is a bad idea. Going to Congress to seek an authorization for the use of military force was a good idea according to hundreds of members of Congress — Ed, I’m not sure of the arguments that you’re making. I see oranges and I see apples.”
Henry then shifted gears, asking Carney to respond to negative quotes made by former Defense Secretaries Robert Gates and Leon Panetta over Obama’s handling of the Syrian situation at a forum hosted by the Southern Methodist University in Dallas Tuesday night.