There is a school of thought among GOP party pros that Fast and Furious is a distraction, that President Obama would rather talk about anything other than the economy. Much as I admire the insight and focus of people like Karl Rove, President Obama and his coterie are showing unmistakable signs of desperation. We witnessed the President's gum chewing demeanor, and awful presser performance in Los Cabos at the G20 summit -- a televised disaster that commandeered prime time television in the East.
Anyone who thinks that claiming executive privilege was a strategy to distract Americans from the economy should view the following four excerpts from yesterday's press briefing collected by Daniel Halper at the Weekly Standard. Halper's captions capture the disaster:
At today's White House press briefing, Press Secretary Jay Carney said invoking executive privilege is "entirely about principle." The assembled reporters laughed....
Carney also got basic facts about Fast and Furious wrong, though members of the press corps were on hand to correct him....
Carney also maintained that the White House is not being hypocritical by invoking executive privilege, even though President Obama once criticized the practice....
And Carney forgot the name of the slain border patrol agent who died as a result of Fast and Furious.
It is manifestly apparent that executive privilege was hit upon at the last minute. There was no time to prepare a rationale, no attorneys deployed to identify vaguely plausible-sounding wording, no time to focus group anything.
Obama is reeling. He has a hard time with criticism, and is accustomed to his charm and magnetism causing all problems to either disappear or fade from memory. Now, he is stuck, needing to prevent public scrutiny of something in those Fast and Furious papers. The Hillary faction, formerly held in abeyance by notions of party unity and racial healing, is now turning on him, if not overtly, at least in easy-to-decipher code.
Obama is out of ammunition, because all he has are the tactics that worked for him in 2008, the ones that used to work like a charm. The economy is headed in the wrong direction, and no matter how distracted the public may be with Fast and Furious, Michelle's nagging us on obesity, the charming adorableness of his children, or partying with Hollywood celebs, Americans know that the economy is terrible. You can't hide the fact that people are having a hard time making it, that on top of the unemployed are many times more Americans who know that their own jobs are at risk. Most small businesses, which employ a majority of the workforce, are struggling, trying to stay alive. The people who haven't been laid off must work much harder than in the past, and even so are nervous about their jobs.
Hat tip: Ed Lasky