Fox News’ White House reporter Ed Henry painstakingly grilled White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest over President Barack Obama’s admission that he still has no strategy to combat ISIS, asking why he’s “still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he’s acknowledging that he still doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?”
Earnest called on Henry during a Friday afternoon press conference at the White House. “As you were speaking, we heard Marine One leaving here so the president can go raise campaign money in Rhode Island and New York,” the Fox reporter began. “And I wonder what you think about the optics of the president, from that podium yesterday, saying he still does not have a strategy dealing with ISIS and Syria militarily. And then the next day, without that strategy, goes out and raises campaign money.”
The White House spokesman pushed back, explaining that Obama did meet with his national security advisers but that this is ultimately “the responsibility of the Pentagon.”
“I ask because last week — when he made the statement right after James Foley’s beheading and within minutes was on the golf course — is he detached?” Henry pressed. “Does he feel like the critics coming after him, it just doesn’t matter anymore? Why is he still raising campaign money, playing golf, when he acknowledging he doesn’t have a strategy to deal with this?”
Earnest largely deflected, noting that “the job of any U.S. president is to be able to handle a lot of different jobs at the same time” and repeating that Obama met with his advisers on this.
But Henry wouldn’t let up, noting that the president himself led expectations of broader action against ISIS in Syria and Iraq after Foley’s death. “Was that just an empty threat?” he asked, prompting another round of denials.
“Simple question,” Henry tried again. “Why doesn’t he have a strategy.”
“Because the Pentagon is still developing military options for the president, for the commander-in-chief, to use against ISIL in Syria,” Earnest hit back, explaining how important it is to have a “comprehensive, formulated strategy.”
“But how does the Pentagon still not have a strategy?” Henry asked. “You’re saying it’s the Pentagon’s issue, they haven’t put this strategy together yet? Is the commander-in-chief not saying, ‘I want this plan on my desk tomorrow?’”