Carney’s most successful press conference evah!

Neil Munro White House Correspondent
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White House spokesman Jay Carney held a wildly successful press conference Monday. There were no questions about the president’s expanding scandals, sliding poll numbers, lousy employment numbers or even the much-touted immigration bill’s impact on American college graduates and blue-collar workers.

Instead, reporters followed the story released by the White House’s public relations team, which said the president would give three economic speeches this week.

Some members of the White House press corps asked a few questions about the latest failed effort to get Arabs to agree to Israel’s existence, all of which Carney instantly muffled with familiar clichés.

The only disturbance to the placid presser was caused by April Ryan, the White House correspondent for American Urban Radio Networks, who butted in with two unwanted questions on President Barack Obama’s emotional Friday comments about racism against African-Americans.

Carney waved away Ryan’s softball question about whether Obama had met “those expectations [for a public debate over the verdict], or did he exceed those expectations, because of all that’s been going on in these last couple of days since Friday?”

He then shut down Ryan’s follow-up about whether Obama would work with black politicians to promote legislation that would curb “profiling.”

A Washington Post poll released today showed that Americans split evenly over the Florida jury’s verdict, while Obama’s base of Democrats voters were lopsidedly opposed to the verdict, with 62 percent disapproval to 22 percent approval.

Today, Carney also downplayed the soon-to-be-former controversy that once gripped the nation’s airwaves for a few days.

“I think you heard his general view about ways to move forward, but beyond that I haven’t spoken with him about it,” Carney said.

The White House press corps also failed to ask Carney about new revelations linking top White House officials to the IRS scandal, bad news in a Gallup poll, and bad news about companies’ increased use of part-time workers.

But Jessica Yellin, CNN’s White House correspondent, did ask Carney an easy question about the birth of a prince in a far-away land.

“The President and First Lady and the entire First Family wait with anticipation for the birth of the Duke and Duchess’s child, and wish the family and all of Great Britain well on this pending momentous occasion,” Carney said.

Carney and the White House’s communications team gets some credit for the comatose conference, in part, because they produced the press release teasing Obama’s impending economy-related speeches on Wednesday and Friday.

The topic drew a host of questions from reporters, but Carney offered only vague, headline-free generalities.

“I’m not going to get ahead of the President in terms of the specifics of the speech he’ll give on Wednesday or the follow-on speeches that he’ll give,” he said.

“This is not what can Congress do in the next few weeks or few months; not what can Washington do even in the next three years,” Carney intoned.

“It’s about a longer view of this country’s future economically and how we need to ensure that we’re making the right decisions and taking the right action that allows for the kind of growth, the kind of security for the middle class that will ensure the health of this country’s economy in the future.”

Reporters repeatedly tried to extract some drama from the ennui.

“It seems to me like this is the biggest buildup you’ve ever given an economic speech,” said one reporter.

Carney responded with a 279-word mudslide of talking-points and clichés that contained no useful information at all.

“We think it’s important… we think that we’re at a crossroads in many ways in terms of where we’ve been and where we’ve arrived and where we can go economically.  As I said at the top, we were in severe dire straits economically in this country and globally when the president took office.  And he took — working with partners in Congress as well as other stakeholders — decisive action to stem the bleeding, to prevent a Great Depression, to put us back on track towards economic growth, and to give the middle class some tools so that it could feel more secure as we emerged from the recession… [and] that’s why the president feels that it’s important to give a big speech at this time,” he said.


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