In Washington, there is a creeping sense that the bottom has fallen out and that there may be no second term. Privately, senior Obama advisers say they are no longer expecting much economic improvement before the election.
Milbank relates the difficulties that White House press secretary
Thus did Jay Carney, the oft-besieged White House press secretary, have another briefing carjacked by bad news. And Carney, who either didn’t know the details of the bizarre episode or wasn’t at liberty to divulge them, had to execute a full range of defensive maneuvers.
“I can simply tell you that he was engaged, as has been reported, in a couple of traffic incidents,” Carney began, as if the secretary, John Bryson, had been photographed by a speed camera or two. Bryson “suffered a seizure, was hospitalized. But beyond that I’ll refer you to Commerce for the details.”
“Is the secretary healthy and fit to serve?” inquired Ben Feller of the Associated Press.
“I would refer you to the Commerce Department.”
Ann Compton of ABC News asked whether the White House chief of staff, who spoke to Bryson, considers the incident serious.
“I don’t have a specific response to give you,” Carney said.
CNN’s Brianna Keilar asked about “the timing of the seizure in relation to the accident.”
“I would refer you, as I said in the past, to the Department of Commerce,” Carney answered.
“I’ve been asking them for hours,” Keilar protested.
“I think I would refer you to the Commerce Department,” was Carney’s rote reply.
The former journalist informed the questioners that he “was not a presiding doctor on this case” and could confirm only that “the commerce secretary was alone, he had a seizure, he was involved in an accident.”
“He was involved in several accidents,” called out April Ryan of American Urban Radio.
“Thank you for the correction,” Carney said. He did not sound grateful.
I'll bet. The discussion concerned the strange case of Commerce Secretary John Bryson, the one Obama cabinet member who had, up to this point, not managed to scare the horses. Bryson had a series of traffic accidents in Los Angeles over the weekend.
Carney has a tough job, because he often has to defend the indefensible. In the case of Bryson, I think it's wise to withhold judgment, since it sounds to me like he has a medical issue -- based on the reports I've read it doesn't seem likely that this was just a garden-variety DWI.
The larger point is that things continue to get worse for Obama. Milbank totes up the scoreboard for this month, which has 18 days and a major Supreme Court decision to go:
Job growth has stalled, the Democrats have been humiliated in Wisconsin, the attorney general is facing a contempt-of-Congress citation, talks with Pakistan have broken down, Bill Clinton is contradicting Obama, Mitt Romney is outraising him, Democrats and Republicans alike are complaining about a “cascade” of national-security leaks from his administration, and he is now on record as saying that the “private sector is doing fine.”
Could it get any worse?
Of course it could. Syria has been imploding for months now. The Eurozone remains on the brink. There's increasing evidence that China's economy might be the mother of all bubbles. Iran and Israel are still doing their little thermonuclear tango. Illinois has no clue what to do about its financial problems. Neither does California.
Hey, but have a nice day.