As April bleeds into May a particularly mystifying view of the administration has been revealed. The temptation is to lean on the word “embarrassing” to describe the words and actions of the players in Obama’s chosen group, but this is a crowd seemingly incapable of suffering that emotion. There’s a reason behind this. A shield against self-awareness appears to have been instilled in them years ago.
It’s obvious the Obama Presidency is heavy on the prolix and nearly absent of production. Even the things they’ve accomplished are loaded with flaws and recall-worthy defects. These rarely get scrutinized in the media, who have blatantly positioned themselves as a PR wing of the Presidency. Widespread incompetence and puerile attitudes are starkly displayed by many players in both the administration and the media.
These people share the traits of the college sophomore who pledged during Rush Week but was never selected. Spurned, they attached to like-minded cast-offs in the poli-sci universe: student government, the school newspaper, and campus activism groups. The irony is that as they professed to broaden their horizons they experienced immersion into a deeply insular environment.
A hermetic mindset developed: beginning from privilege, ensconced in pampered campus life, then segregated social groups, before finally resting into their liberal cliques. The result is an overconfident belief system of unproven theorems, untested values, and unchallenged execution. This creates a crowd of the little-knowledge-is-dangerous sort spurned by the belief they know better than the rest.
Here is a rundown of those who have proven they derive from the sect of the Arrested Collegiate Pledges.
The prototypical class President who runs on a platform of impotence; hollow promises like improving school lunches and spearheading populist activism lead to accolades. When these oaths inevitably dissolve, the class President is never faulted, mostly due to campuses rife with perceived inequities. The quest for better cafeteria meals or a change to environmentally-friendly security lights is beyond the purview of the collegiate political office. The failure is attributed to other factors, like a corrupt system, an administration too focused on budgets, contract cronyism, etc. That means the Class President is never at fault.
This has been the hallmark of Obama’s Presidency. The shovel-ready jobs were never ready, the stimulus didn’t stimulate, and Obamacare was enough of a fiasco that the most proactive remedy was shielding the man and insisting we call it the Affordable Care Act. The Class President is always hailed for saying wonderful things; he is never held responsible for failed promises. He rarely has accomplishments to celebrate.
Jay Carney may typify the Arrested Pledge better than most, uniquely displaying all the qualities of this persona. As well as being the voice of this administration, he hails from the journalist side, exemplifying the incestuous relationship between the media and the White House. The campus construct, which adheres to the policy of no introspection, means a man like Carney holds expectations from both sides; he believes the press should not look into stories, and he feels this way because as a journalist he behaved that way.
On two consecutive days last week Carney operated with a stupefying level of truth-aversion. While few would fault the Press Secretary of any administration for attempted spin control Carney offered up two examples of explanatory avoidance that took prevarication to new lows. He applied a level of circular rebuttal that would have made Martin Short’s lawyer character Nathan Thurm proud.
Behold this paraphrased synopsis of his consecutive press conferences last week. When the Benghazi email was revealed, he was offended by some reporters who challenged the story.
CARNEY: The CIA told us the attacks were inspired by the video.
PRESS: The CIA testified they never suspected the video was the cause.
CARNEY: We never said the CIA told us this.
PRESS: Then who was the source of the video story?
CARNEY: You need to check with the CIA, they told us it was the video.
The press conference centered on the Obamacare enrollment figures was equally dismaying. In response to the Republicans finding their own figures to get answers, the press secretary gave more circuitous reasoning.
CARNEY: The data the GOP is reporting is incorrect.
PRESS: Then will you provide us with the correct figures?
CARNEY: We don’t have those numbers, you’ll need to get them from the insurance companies.
PRESS: That is what the GOP has done, they got their data from the insurers.
CARNEY: The GOP data is incorrect.
Only to people conditioned by a collegiate style of lax accountability can these be considered reasonable responses.
By now most are aware of Kerry’s unfortunate warning that Israel was in danger of becoming the newest enforcer of Apartheid. This is an stunning thing for anyone in the U.S. government to say about an ally; it is disastrous for it to emanate from the Secretary of State.
Kerry responded in typical Arrested Pledge fashion. He first denied saying the things he was quoted saying, and then warned against anyone politicizing the issue. Understand the level of juvenile, hands-off entitlement it takes to boldly deny what others heard you say, as a politician on an international stage, then expect those quotes to not become political fodder. The last element was a press-aided declaration that the comments had been made in a private function and never should have been reported. Once you resort to the “that doesn’t count” level of denial, you have officially become childish.
The spokesperson for the State Department has operated in her role such that you would think she never left campus, and runs her office from a dorm room. She was asked directly in an interview to list Hillary Clinton’s accomplishments and was unable to do so. A day later Psaki readdressed the question, and she came up with things such as the “integration of women, and girls,” and “leveling the playing field.”
But Psaki really exposes her co-ed tendencies on Twitter. She infamously announced that she expected Russia to “live up to the promise of hashtag.” When her boss Kerry made his blunder she came to his defense by invoking the mockable media sources of Daily Kos and Think Progress. Psaki shows all the nuance and world experience of your average Epcot Center tourist.
The former White House spokesman came off sounding like the ultimate frat boy during an appearance on Fox News with Brett Baier. Asking for particulars on the day of the embassy attack Vietor seemed flippant much of the time, capped off by his response to a question about the talking points he had scripted.
“Dude, this was like two years ago. We’re talking about the most mundane things.”
Baier, to his credit, recognized this callow attitude and challenged him back with, “Dude, it’s what everybody is talking about.”
This man-child is the person the Obama administration tabbed for public communication.
In D.C. media circles there is no shortage of sycophants from the school paper. The ineffectual platitudes from the class president are considered brave and elevated thinking. They praise speeches as aptitude, and they ignore the resulting ineptitude.
A prime example is Hounshell, Senior editor at Politico. Lashing out at the many responses to the latest Benghazi email revelations on Twitter, Hounshell said, “Can you point me to a credible, authoritative story saying the WH knowingly pushed a false narrative?” Then he delivered the next amazing detail. He declared he had yet to read the email that was making the news. In one brief message he displayed contempt for those seeking out information, and his own ignorance of that which he spoke – essentially admitting journalistic negligence.
If he had written, “I’ll defend the White House position, regardless,” no one would have been any more surprised.
The writer of the Plum Line blog at the Washington Post displays that talent borne of the campus media, covering the administration with fawning enthusiasm. When it was commented that Jay Carney was oafish for disputing the ACA data the GOP released without producing a single document himself, Sargent rose to the defense.
@ron_fournier serious Q: Why don't reporters just call up the insurers and ask them for the latest data? #assignmentdesk
— Greg Sargent (@ThePlumLineGS) May 1, 2014
This displays abject ignorance and/or a lazy devotion to the administration. To reiterate, the GOP data was obtained from the insurers themselves. But Sargent shows a striking unwillingness here to engage the WH seriously. He feels no inspiration to ask about the administration data; he just accepts it.
Instead of placing the burden on his peers, why doesn’t Sargent call on the White House to produce the data that backs up their claims?
That was a rhetorical question. By now I think everyone knows.
That so many examples of sophomoric behavior have come to light in the matter of weeks is surprising, but that may be a result of how much of this incompetence has been shielded from us. It may also be a result of overconfidence. The lack of culpability in the administration, and the absence of curiosity demonstrated by the compliant press, means these distaff frat boys in Brooks Brothers suits have become comfortable. Now they’re revealing the frailty of their position.
These people once sought approval from their peers on campus.
In their careers they feel that they have achieved that lofty vantage. What America is witnessing now is the other side of their reality; we are privy to the foibles that were recognized years ago and prevented them entry into those realms. They have made for themselves the very male herds and sisterhoods they envied in school – absent true achievement.
The Arrested Pledges may have created the exclusive memberships for themselves -but we can see they still possess the skill sets of the collegian who has not figured out how to lead in the real world.